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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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ATI Imageon Video Chip Review
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2002
 Version 1.00  Revised 4/27/2002

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Introduction

The ATI Imageon 100 represents a significant step forward in video designs for PDAs including Pocket PCs.  The ATI Imageon 100 provides additional functionality for video graphics processing to occur on the video chip versus on the Pocket PC's cpu. The Imageon 100 includes support for 2D video acceleration which will improve the speed of video games.  It also includes a hardware based MPEG-4 video decompressor right on the video chip.  It supports 384k of  video ram and displays up to 320 x 240 without external video ram.


ATI Imageon 100 Chip

MPEG-4 What's the Big Deal?

Since the Imageon supports MPEG-4 video decompression and playback right on the video chip.  Well this is a major improvement to be able to playback video on PDAs including the Pocket PC.  This improvement allows the PDA to off-load the complex computations for video playback to a dedicated processor rather than using a cpu like the StrongARM to perform these functions.  This efficiency is especially true if it involves floating point computation.  The StrongARM and XScale CPUs  do not have floating point instructions.  Floating point computations are performed by using multiple integer computations to complete this function.  So the ability to offload these complex functions make PDAs more efficient.

Demonstrating the Imageon 100 Playback

You can see the Imageon 100 playback MPEG 4 video right here.  The video plays back at 30 frames per second according to ATI.  I saw it in real life at CES and I was impressed with the high quality.  The video here is just to demonstrate that it is real. 


This is the ATI demo board with the Imgeon 100 between the 4 gold circles.  It uses the StrongARM cpu from Intel operating at 206 mhz.

Conclusion

I hope that future Pocket PCs use video acceleration hardware with video playback capabilities in hardware.  The use of MPEG-4 compression in hardware will allow users to see flawless video playback while using low speed wired and wireless networks.

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