Ion – a tiny Media PC from Nvidia

First of all, the new thing about it isn’t its size, but its ability to work together with on Atom CPU from Intel. That’s not usual, since there’s been only one chip-set available so far, which is design to work with on Atom CPU, and that’s Intel’s 945GM. Now the GeForce 9400M chip-set will be able to cooperate with Intel’s low power and low buget CPU, the Atom. And you’ve read right. The chip-set is called GeForce (MCP97), and Nvidia uses this new nomenclature for all integrated chip-sets since the begin of 2008.

Intel’s 945 integrated chipset is almost 3 years old, and isn’t capable to handle HD content. Hence Asus’ Eee-Box lacks of such features, like playing back H.264 footage. Linux users are in a lucky position meanwhile, because Nvidia offers since the 14th of November hardware acceleration for H.264 content. So running Linux on this box and using vdpau as output device with e.g. mplayer should be no problem then.

The power consumption is told to be around 13W and the feature set is quite impressive, but it’s not said, the OEM will realize all of them. Here’s what the Ion-Box comes with:

  • 7x USB-2.0-ports
  • 2x eSATA,
  • 8x chan.-audio,
  • 1x S/P-DIF
  • 1x VGA,
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DVI-D
  • 1x RJ45 GBit
  • 2x Mic

Of course you won’t be able to put in a HD DVB-S2 card in it. But having a quick look into the Internet reveals already DVB-S2 USB cards. Don’t know it if would be able to use such a device (e.g. DVB-S2 HD 2104 USB BOX ) with an Linux installation, but theoretically it would be possible.

I would use such a box in combination with an media server, such a server could also host a DVB-S2 PCI card, and offer the stream via socket connection to the client. In our case it would be done with e.g. xine or mplayer as video front-end. I do nothing else right now, although I’m on the same box like the server (xineliboutput plugin for VDR).

And that’s what I’m basically looking for: Using this device together with an Linux media Center like Elisa, XBMC, MythTV or of course in my case My Media System (MMS)

It should be mentioned, that this is only a reference design, and the look,name and feature set will differ.
I’m really tense to know what the prize will be.

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