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Intel's Montevina Chip Will Bring HD Video

Intel's Montevina Chip Will Bring HD Video

by , 2:15 PM EDT, September 26th, 2007

Recently, Intel's Paul Otellini at the Intel Developer Forum demonstrated support for blue-laser optical formats that promise robust support for high definition video in PCs within a year, according to EDN.

The Montevina chip is a refresh of the Santa Rosa platform that will bring desirable improvements to video decoding, said EDN's Senior Technical Editor Brian Dipert. It is a portable, tuned version of the Penryn processor.

Looking at the HD video handling, the author noted that even though Blu-ray and HD DVD have very different physical formats on the disc, once the data stream is pulled off, they look very much alike since they typically use three video formats: MPEG-2, MPEG-4/H.264 and Microsoft's VC-1. However, in a portable environment, the asymmetric nature of the codecs requires much more processing on the encoding side than the decoding side, and this influences design decisions for a portable computer.

"Frankly, Microsoft is far more invested in HD DVD, by virtue of its HDi interactivity scheme, which competes against the Sun-developed Blu-ray Java approach, than is Intel. To wit, I suspect that Intel's past stated preference for HD DVD was primarily a favor to its key partner, Microsoft," Mr. Dipert observed.

The author pointed out that the video encode process places a heavy burden on the CPU and, hence, the battery. "Montevina's chipset support for H.264 decode will broaden to the point that Intel believes it will no longer require Broadcom assistance (and also won't be placing an excessive power-consumption burden on the system CPU)," he wrote and noted that in a demonstration of identically configured systems, a Penryn prototype completed a DivX encoding session substantially faster than its Merom (Core 2 Duo) processor.

In light of the significant CPU burden to encode HD, all this suggests that the current line of Intel chips just isn't up to the task and we'll have to wait for the next generation Montevina and Penryn from Intel before we see the needed improvements in HD video manipulation, especially the encoding side for video professionals.

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