VIA brings 1080p video playback to small devices

VIA brings 1080p video playback to small devices

VIA's new VX855 chip integrates the features of a usual Northbridge and Southbridge into a single package.

VIA has just stepped into the HD netbook debate by announcing its VX855 MSP (Media System Processor), which the company says can bring 1080p video playback to small devices such as netbooks and small form factor PCs. The VX855 features full hardware acceleration for a number of video formats, including H.264, and VIA claims that the chipset only uses 2.3W and doesn’t require a fan either.

VIA’s vice president of marketing, Richard Brown, commented on the new chipset, saying that "for the first time, system developers have an ultra low power media system processor that delivers high bit-rate HD video to small form factor and mobile devices." He added that "the VIA VX855 opens up exciting opportunities for several PC segments, particularly the mini-notebook category that will now be able to offer true 1080p HD video playback."

Unlike Intel’s standard Atom chipsets, which features both a 945-based Northbridge and a separate Southbridge, the VX855 integrates the features of a usual Northbridge and Southbridge into a single package that measures just 27mm x 27mm. VIA points out that this “saves over 46 percent of silicon real estate compared with competing twin-chip core logic implementations.”

The VX855 can control VIA’s Nano, C7 and Eden processors, and also features a PC2-6400 DDR2 memory controller that can handle up to 4GB of memory. The chip also features an integrated VIA Chrome9 DirectX 9 graphics processor and a VIA Vinyl Audio HD sound controller. The latter supports up to eight channels for full 7.1 surround sound, as well as a sample rate of up to 192KHz. Meanwhile an EIDE controller enables connection of up to two storage devices, and the chip supports up to six USB 2.0 ports too.

Last month, Intel dismissed Nvidia’s claims about the HD video trancoding capabilities of its Ion platform in a document called Nvidia Ion Competitive Positioning Guide. The document claimed that “neither gaming nor video transcoding are relevant to Netbook and Nettop users,” and also pointed out that Intel intended to address the lack of hardware acceleration for HD video decoding in its Atom chipsets with the forthcoming Mobile Intel GN40 Express chipset. In the meantime, however, only VIA’s VX855 and Nvidia’s Ion platform currently offer HD video playback on comparably small platforms.

Is 1080p video decoding a worthwhile feature on small devices such as netbooks? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


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DougEdey 13th March 2009, 15:04 Quote
jsheff 13th March 2009, 17:11 Quote
Intel: "neither gaming nor video transcoding are relevant to Netbook and Nettop users"
Nettop users: "HTPC!"
Furymouse 13th March 2009, 17:13 Quote
I think Ill have to postpone building my htpc till this comes out.
perplekks45 13th March 2009, 19:03 Quote
Give me money, I want this!
Burnout21 14th March 2009, 11:47 Quote
Originally Posted by Furymouse
I think Ill have to postpone building my htpc till this comes out.

ditto, the old electricity bill cant handle another PC, so this low power HD device is perfect!
Evildead666 14th March 2009, 13:03 Quote
I'd like a netbook to replace my PC when I 'play' with it too much.....(danm addiction to OCing)
If it could do HD playback thru a VGA/DVI port and at least quad audio thru my amp then i'm sold....
If it could look like the sony P-series too, and not have that price tag, i'd be there too.

As an HTPC, it can't decode VC-1 in hardware, but a Nano may suffice to decode VC-1 in software.....
Chocobollz 14th March 2009, 20:47 Quote
I wouldn't really trust what they're saying because here I have a Clevo M540SR laptop (Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2330; 1.6 GHz Merom core w/ 1 MB cache, VIA VN896CE w/ VIA Chrome9 HC IGP, 2x DDR2-667 1 GB) and it can't even play a 720p AVC-1 video properly. And from my long experiences with VIA, I wouldn't trust them at all!

I believe the Chrome9 family IGP were just a rebranded version of their old Unichrome Pro IGP (which I had used them before too, in my ECS PM800-M2 motherboard back in years 2003). Both IGP can't even run the old Counter Strike 1.3 smoothly at 1024x768 so I'm pretty sure that they lie to you about their support for 1080p video playback unless they're adding some kind of a new hardware decoder to the IGP (which is highly unlikely).
Timmy_the_tortoise 15th March 2009, 15:41 Quote
With each and every day, Intel loses more of my respect, and VIA gains more.

I really want VIA to succeed... I like their understated presence and approach to the market.
Evildead666 15th March 2009, 18:40 Quote
I'm with you there.
They have great technology, just look at the Core and Core2 and Nehalem tech...brilliant.
Then they decide to release a castrated chip, and restrictions on its use ????? (Atom)

Whatever happenned to letting the user choose ? I don't NEED a laptop, as i've said before the p-series is my ideal form factor, but with just a little more functionality...
Maybe the ARM netbooks will be good enough, and unrestricted, along with Via...
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