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Broadcom Brings HD Video Playback To Netbooks

Semiconductor specialist broadcomhas launched a new single chip processor for netbooks called the Crystal HD BCM70015 which apparently will allow under powered Atom-based devices to stream HD video content smoothly.

Even the latest Pine Trail system launched earlier this week by Intel won't be powerful enough to play high definition content flawlessly, hence the need for specialist chips - or as we like to call them, co-processors.

Intel has already validated the chip from Broadcom which is able to play content encoded using a range of codecs (H.264/AVC, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV9, MPEG-4, DivX, Xvid and AVS) without any dropped frames or jitters; "even under heavy CPU load" says the press release.

It also provides the all important hardware acceleration for Windows Media Player and Adobe Flash 10.1, something that's the Nvidia Ion chipset - a v2 is expected to come at CES 2010 in January - is equally capable of doing.

Broadcom will be proposing the chip either as an ODM product for manufacturers to integrate on their motherboards or as a standalone PCI Express mini card that can be added at a later stage.

It would be interesting to see whether the solution is actually adopted by low cost Atom-based desktops or those looking to build increasingly popular HTPC devices.

Dan Eiref, vice president and general manager of Broadcom's consumer electronics line of business, said in a statement that "Netbooks have grown in popularity in part because they are easily transportable. Broadcom's low power and low cost Crystal HD technology will allow netbook owners, for the first time, to use their netbooks as portable multimedia playback devices on which they can experience HD video anytime, anywhere."

Our Comments

Intel must surely be wondering whether or not to allow Broadcom to compete with Nvidia, whose Ion chipset has managed to ridicule Intel's own onboard graphics solutions. Obviously, this brings up another interesting question for Broadcom; what comes next? will they be bold enough to launch a complete smartbook solution?

Related Links

Broadcom announces Crystal HD chip (opens in new tab)


Broadcom, Nvidia bring HD video to new Netbooks (opens in new tab)


Broadcom, Nvidia bring full HD playback to Pine Trail (opens in new tab)


Broadcom Crystal HD video acceleration on Intel's new Atom platform (opens in new tab)


Broadcom HD video accelerator targets new Atoms (opens in new tab)


Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.