Intel’s next generation Atom processors for netbooks, tablets, and desktops are due out by year’s end, and while the Cedar Trail chips won’t offer much more processing power than today’s Pine Trail chips, it looks like they will offer much better graphics performance.
We already knew that the Cedar Trail platform would support 1080p HD video playback and Blu-ray decoding. Now Chippy at UMPC Portal has some more details.
Cedar Trail chips will feature a GMA 3600 graphics core with PowerVR technology. Intel Atom N570 and earlier netbook chips didn’t feature hardware acceleration for HD video playback, which means that HD video taxes the CPU. That’s why Atom N550 and N570 chips dual core processors can handle 720p HD video, but most single core Atom chips cannot.
The GMA 3600 graphics core, on the other hand, is designed to handle HD video decoding. Chippy reports that he watched a Cedar Trail system recently decode a Blu-ray disc with H.264 video with DTS-HD audio while the computer’s CPU usage stayed under 20 percent.
This isn’t the first time Intel has built HD video capabilities into an Atom chip. The company’s Oak Trail and Menlow chips use GMA 600 and GMA 500 graphics, respectively, both of which have some support for high definition video — but those low power chips are typically much less powerful than Pine Trail or Cedar Trail chips and are most often found these days in tablets and other fanless computer designs.
Cedar Trail still doesn’t offer hardware support for encoding video.