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Hardware development is starting to throw up new technologies to us as the arrival of Windows Vista draws closer. The next ‘shake-up’ is in the area of integrated graphics.

High definition media content is the spur, and current solutions simply don’t handle it. Only a small number of high end, expensive display cards claim to be capable of the technology. Nvidia has been developing an integrated chipset which has high definition clearly in its sights.

The C51PV chipset was first demonstrated earlier this year, and will provide a graphics core similar to the 6200TC display cards. The difference is that the C51PV chipset will also encode/decode high definition content using the H.264 codec. The encoding/decoding is highly demanding on computer processors, and needs hardware graphics assistance to be successfully handled on a PC. Currently no personal computer CPU handles it adequately. To successfully play full high definition media content (720p) you’d need a dual Xeon 2.8GHz or better. To play full high definition content adeauately (1080p) you need a dual 2GHz PowerMac G5 or better.

Graphics circuitry will need to take the load off the processor in future, and the quality of onboard video solutions is going to need to accommodate the technology. We can expect to see new chipsets from IBM and ATi in upcoming months, so keep an eye out for them.

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