During the Digital Home keynote this morning, Eric Kim announced Intel’s first purpose-built system on a chip for consumer electronics devices, such as set top boxes, digital TVs and “other connected CE devices
It’s clear that the Internet is going to become more and more ubiquitous and embedded over the next few years, especially after sitting through Pat Gelsinger’s keynote yesterday. Adding connectivity to an increasing number of consumer electronics devices is only going to accelerate the rate of connectivity.
The Intel Media Processor CE 3100 was formally codenamed Canmore; it’s based on a Dothan core with an 800MHz core speed and features 256KB of L2 cache.
Additionally, the CE 3100 includes dedicated hardware for multi-stream video decoding and processing in codecs such as MPEG-2, H.264 and VC-1 over an HDMI 1.3a output. It also features advanced four-field per pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing and nine-tap, 128 phase, independent horizontal and vertical scalers.
The chip includes a triple-channel 800MHz DDR2 memory controller supporting tiled memory mapping and channel interleaving, along with dedicated multi-channel dual audio DSPs with support for 7.1 surround sound implementing various audio codecs, including full compatibility with Blu-ray.
In terms of graphics horsepower, the CE 3100 includes an Intel GMA 500 graphics core that’ll be used for overlaying menus and videos. The graphics engine is based on a unified architecture with two execution units for shader processing, accelerated BLTs/alpha BLTs, programmable anti-aliasing and is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenGL VG 1.0 APIs.
All of this gives the chip the potential to improve the overall AV experience with more advanced picture processing algorithms, too and that’s something that the graphics guys have been talking about more and more. Although details are scant at the moment, one would hope that over time these algorithms can be tweaked and improved through firmware updates.
To demonstrate the power of the decoder, Kim showed two 1080p video streams playing side by side, while also manipulating the streams in a 3D environment without any evidence of dropped frames. The chink in the armour though was the fact that only one of the streams was H.264, which obviously puts the question of whether or not the CE 3100 can decode dual H.264 streams right at the front of my mind.
Moving further ahead of time, Intel said that it would release an Atom-based CE processor in 2009 – and by that time, there should be a multi-core Atom processor available. Internet-enabled TVs with multi-core processors could be here sooner than you think...
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