NVIDIA has been developing the Ion platform as an alternative to small-sized desktop computer systems that are powered by Intel's low-power chipset and Atom processor. With the Ion, the chip manufacturer can enable system builders to come up with desktop PCs that provide a decent performance ratio and almost all features that are available for a full-fledged desktop. However, due to the Ion's small-size form factor, such systems come in a considerably smaller package and with a more decent price tag.
Back when we first had our hands-on experience with the Ion, in December last year, we were certainly left with the feeling that we were holding NVIDIA's version of the Mac Mini. The system's small size and overall performance specifications allow for full-HD video decoding and, with the help of the chip maker's CUDA technology, the GPU can be used for more general purpose computing.
According to Tom’s Hardware's sources, an NVIDIA partner has confirmed Ion in the upcoming Mac Mini. Moreover, it appears that Apple was among the first to receive a prototype unit of the Ion, long before other NVIDIA partners had a chance to work with it. This could mean that the new Mac Mini will be powered by an Intel Atom 330 processor, coupled together with a GeForce 9400M GPU. The solution could allow for the lowest priced Mac system on the market, enabling a higher number of customers to take advantage of Apple's exclusive operating system.
The Ion-based Mac Mini is said to be scheduled for a March release, around the same time as the CeBit show in Hannover, Germany.