AMD has announced a new product that will officially bring cable-based digital TV to your PC.
I am busy sifting through all the data collected today, but several of you were asking for more information on the AMD ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable tuner, so I thought the very least I could do is give you all the presentation tha AMD was showing the press!
Most of the information that could be provided to us was shown in these slides, but I wanted to reiterate a couple of points. Yes, Vista is a requirement for this device to work and that means you’ll be waiting for AMD’s partner OEMs to implement their Vista systems before the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner will even be an option. It is possible that you’ll see this as a retail product but there are a lot of technical specs that have to be made for support including full system HDCP support, a fast enough CPU to handle the codec decoding and decompression as well as support for your cable provider. Also, the motherboard BIOS needs to have a special “key” built into it that will allow the digital tuner to function.
From a technical stand point, the AMD card uses an ATI Theater 550 chip for decoding of analog channels but uses a custom Xilinx logic chip and a Blackfin DSP chip from Analog Devices to handle all the data compression / decompression and encrypting that is required. Another interesting note is that with the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner the CableCard technology never touches the PC and so cable companies don’t have to worry about someone being able to “crack” the CableCard technology.
There are a lot of restrictions in the regulations that go into bringing a product like the AMD ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner to market; but the ability to finally watch more than over-the-air digital and HD channels is definitely a BIG STEP FORWARD in getting an HTPC into every user’s living room. Hopefully we’ll have one of these configurations soon so we can evaluate the user experience that it provides to consumers.
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