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Promising TV tuners on ATI THEATER 550 PRO are already available

Despite the fact that ATI Technologies announced its THEATER 550 PRO multimedia processor as far back as in September 2004, the first products on it became available only these days. Last week Canadians made a paper announcement of TV WONDER ELITE, while in Japanese retail stores one could already buy THEATER 550 PRO based TV tuners made by ATI partners:

THEATRIX and GECUBE TV CINEMASTER 550PRO from Sapphire Technology and Info-Tek correspondingly (more solutions to come from Gigabyte Technology, Micro-Star International, Tul and YUAN High-Tech) have reference design and differ by packages only.

The small low-profile PCB is rather chip-free: Silicon Tuner semiconductor HF unit under a metallic plate, THEATER 550 PRO processor itself (made in mid-October 2004) and MPEG coder buffer — a 16MB 4ns GDDR chip from Samsung (K4D261638F-TC40). There are three connectors: TV and FM antenna sockets and S-Video/Composite.

Such component minimalism is a distinguishing feature of all THEATER 550 PRO based products, so they are bound to be compact. Besides, theoretically, a solution based on a single chip that combines features of several discrete chips should be cheaper to produce, so the second advantage is lower price ($120 in Japan (same as for similarly featured Leadtek WinFast PVR2000) vs. $149 ATI TV WONDER ELITE).

The third and seemingly the most important advantage of THEATER 550 PRO based solutions are related to processor capabitilies themselves. Though only tests will indicate the real performance of 12-bit intermediate frequency demodulator and 12-bit video decoder (together with its 2D comb filter working with 5 lines simultaneously, the 3D comb filter separating color and brightness components of TV signal and the hardware noise reduction circuitry). The programmable processor is capable of handling up to 60 billion elementary operations per second and support variable bitrate video encoding. Simultaneous processing of audio data (up to 48 kHz, can be converted into dual-channel Dolby Digital format) allowing you to forget about video and audio mistiming is also a plus.

THEATER 550 PRO is designed for both PCI and PCI Express buses. Info-Tek, for example, is already going to introduce GECUBE TV CINEMASTER 550PRO PCIe. Besides, judging by ATI plans, there will be a model for notebooks as well — fit into AXIOM (Advanced eXpress I/O Module) form-factor.

The device will be supplied with traditional radio remote control named REMOTE WONDER PLUS transmitting signals to receiver connected to a USB port.

Source: PC Watch

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