Tom's Hardware says that Apple will use NVIDIA's Ion platform in an updated Mac mini, and AppleInsider says it could also be used in an updated Apple TV.
NVIDIA's Ion platform is a low-cost, small-form-factor logic board that includes both an NVIDIA graphics processor and Intel CPU (among other things). According to AppleInsider, Ion uses the same 9400M chipset used in the new MacBook and MacBook Pro models. We knew that existing iMac and Mac mini models are already using the 9400M as part of the NVIDIA MCP79 platform. Either way, with the 9400M, full-screen HD decoding is built-in.
According to Tom's Hardware, the Ion package slated for use with the Mac mini includes an Intel Atom 330 processor. AppleInsider says that performance gains for a new Mac mini based on this platform could require OpenCL, a technology only available so far in builds of Snow Leopard.
Tom's expects the new Mac mini to arrive in March, while AppleInsider, says that it could arrive "this month." Fingers crossed.
The Apple TV, on the other hand, with its 1GHz CPU, would see a significant boost with Ion. The margins on the Apple TV are already tight, though, and adding more power could break the bank on Apple's "hobby" project. But what if the next-generation Apple TV and Mac mini were one and the same?
It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping! Stop, you're both right.