Nvidia has its eyes set on the netbook market—but it's taking a cautious approach. That's the message PC World got from Nvidia Investor Relations VP Michael Hara, who said netbooks could use Nvidia integrated graphics chips in the future to improve their handling of 3D graphics and video playback.
Hara also stated, "We're not saying we're not interested [in netbooks]; it's a matter of how the market will evolve." To Nvidia's credit, the netbook market is still something of a moving target. An Intel executive recently stated that the market didn't develop the way the chipmaker expected, and AMD has made it clear that it plans to focus only on high-end netbooks and cheap ultraportables.
Nvidia may have several options if it does decide to offer a netbook chipset. In April, the company announced a desktop platform for Via's low-power Nano processors, so a mobile flavor could be the next logical step. However, reports from the rumor mill suggest Nvidia used that possibility as a bargaining chip in discussions with Intel. Intel may have agreed to let Nvidia develop a chipset for its Atom processor—but only if the graphics firm doesn't offer a mobile solution for the Nano.
In the meantime, netbook shoppers seeking capable graphics processing may have to stick with machines like Asus' N10J, which couples an Atom processor with Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS discrete graphics.