The Intel Atom N270 and N280 processors found in most netbooks can handle 720p HD video playback reasonably well. But they tend to choke on higher resolution 1080p videos. DigiTimes reports that Intel is working with Broadcom to address that for the launch of the new Pine Trail platform later this year.
Notice I said “Pine Trail,” and not “Pineview.” That’s because Pine Trail describes the platform, while Pineview will be the next generation Atom processor itself. Intel won’t be building the HD video decoding capabilities onto the CPU. Rather, the company will offer the Broadcom BCM70015 graphics chip as an option for computer makers that want enhanced video performance. The chip can handle 1080p while using less than 1W of power and play 720p video using less than half of that. The chip will work with Windows and Linux and supports MPEG2, H.264, WMV9, VC-1, and AVC.
But it sounds like it won’t be included standard on every Intel Atom powered netbook. That’s probably a good thing, since it will keep the price down (as well as battery consumption) on non-HD models, while offering improved HD video performance for customers who want it. But it does add one more variable that netbook shoppers will have to keep an eye on later this year.