Intel GN40 to support some 1080p playback

March 11, 2009 // 2:11 p.m.

Tags: #1080p #720p #atom #blu-ray #gn40 #hd #hdmi #intel-atom #intel-gn40 #ion #netbook #nvidia-ion

If you've been holding out for Intel's new GN40 chipset in order to embue your Atom-equipped system with HD playback capabilities, you might be in for a disappointment.

According to a report over on Fudzilla, Intel has finally come clean about the capabilities of its new chipset. While the GN40 was always going to handle the relatively lightweight 720p HD format, no-one was quite sure whether full-HD 1080p would be on the cards. According to Intel: maybe.

An official statement from the company slightly clarifies the positioning of the chipset: “GN40 is designed to do 1080p HD playback for typical broadband internet content; it is not designed to enable full Blu-ray capability where the bitrates and demands of multi-layer content are significantly higher than that of internet HD content.” This comes despite claims from Intel that it would be offering "full Hi-Def video decode with HW acceleration with the off-roadmap Mobile Intel GN40 Express Chipset."

While this will be a disappointment for anyone expecting the next round of netbooks to sport full Blu-ray playback capabilities, it's not that surprising: Atom has always been aimed at the low-power end of the market, and any media playback functionality will have been designed with this in mind. With even the larger netbooks shying away from anything as fancy as a 1,920 x 1,080 display – and just how usable would that be with a 10” diagonal anyway – the lack of true 1080p playback is perhaps not that big a deal.

With that said, the possibility still remains of a low-power system equipped with an HDMI port to allow connection to a large-screen display – and that's something on which 1080p would almost be a requirement. With Intel clearly not targeting the GN40 and Atom pairing at this niche market, perhaps there's a chance for rival Nvidia's Ion platform to steal the limelight?

Has this news really turned you off the GN40, or were you always going to side with Nvidia's Ion anyway? Perhaps you think the whole concept of an Atom-based low-power system is pointless and think everyone should be running overclocked quad-cores? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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