AMD Launches Mobile Video Processor

Jay Wrolstad,

Chip manufacturer AMD today introduced a processor designed to handle the demands of multimedia content on mobile devices. The latest iteration of AMD’s Alchemy product line, dubbed Au1200, promises to provide video entertainment for consumers on the move, much like what MP3 players deliver to music fans.

The new chipset is a low-power, high-performance offering optimized for personal media players (PMP). It should help speed production of small-scale DVD-quality displays, enable video content transfers directly from digital video recorder, and provide longer battery life for next-generation portable hardware, AMD contends.

Simplified Download and Playback

The Au1200 features integrated media acceleration hardware and media player software. Because it does not require a digital signal processor (DSP) or DSP coding, the chipset will enable PMP manufacturers to deliver products to market more quickly and at attractive prices.

PMPs with the Au1200 processor can connect directly to video recorders and video content without having to transcode the file through a personal computer, thus slashing the time required to download and playback video entertainment on the portable device.

The chip is designed to work on players running the Windows CE.NET or Linux (news – web sites) operating systems. It will ship in the second quarter of 2005.

TiVo Signs On

Digital video recorder manufacturer TiVo has embraced the Au1200 as a component of its TiVo-To-Go initiative, which enables the direct transfer of television programs from a Series2 TiVo machine to PMPs, laptops and other portable devices.

Once content is on the PMP, the processor provides a DVD-quality display that can be transferred to larger screens without affecting image quality. The Au1200 supports the MPEG2, MPEG4, WMV9, H.263 and DivX media formats.

Mobile Video Has Potential

AMD is targeting a market that has a lot of potential, said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. “The portable device area is growing a lot faster than the traditional PC market, which has reached maturity and presents a challenge for AMD, Intel and other chip makers,” he told NewsFactor.

That challenge, said Haff, is to deliver a processor that can provide the power required by video content. He noted that Intel is addressing the issue with its Xscale portfolio. “Chip makers are taking a closer look at new products designed for specific tasks, such as multimedia content.”

A complete PMP reference design based on the AMD Alchemy Au1200 processor is available from First International Computer. The company is offering a portable media product called Vassili that features 3.6-inch display, a DVR-to-PMP direct connection, 20GB internal storage and 16-bit CD-quality sound.