The trouble with playing video on personal computers is that quality isn’t very good once the picture bigger gets bigger than a postage stamp. The problems are two-fold: frame refresh rate drops, and the pixelation becomes obvious as magnification increases. The scan rate can be boosted by standard video accelerator chips, which leaves the pixelation. VideoLogic Ltd the division of Avesco Group Plc due for separate flotation next year – reckons it has resolved the resolution problems with its new Powerplay Co-processor. The company is supplying the chip OEM to IBM Corp, for incorporation into the motherboard of a new machine that will which will be on display at Comdex/Fall next week. VideoLogic says that several other major manufacturers are also committed to the chip, which uses proprietary, smoothing algorithms.
It also indicates that the chip will be finding its way into set-top television decoders. The Powerplay chip costs $25 in quantities of 1,000 – negotiation will get them cheaper in bulk. To satisfy the upgrade market the company is producing its own board, the HiPerVideo 928Movie which pulls the Powerplay together with S3 Inc’s 928 graphics accelerator chip and an optional sound chip. The price has yet to be decided, but the company is intending to go head-to-head against standard graphic accelerator boards. The HiPerVideo is initially available with AT and VESA local bus versions, with a Peripheral Component Interconnect version due to be announced after Christmas. As well as being a product in its own right, the board is being used by the company as the foundation for a forthcoming set of daughter boards that will daisy-chain to the HiPerVideo via its VESA Media Channel connector. The VMC bus specs were ratified just last week and it is designed specifically for handling full-motion video. These daughter-boards will begin to appear early next year starting with video input and VideoCD/MPEG playback boards; a H.320 video-conferencing expander will follow on later in the year, based on joint development work carried out with Motorola Inc and British Telecommunications Plc. They will rely on another new VideoLogic offering – the Powerstream chip, which cost $55 each in quantities of 1,000. Powerstream is a highly integrated video processing chip that enables digital video coder-decoders to be attached to VESA Media Channel-based graphics subsystems. The Powerplay chip is sampling now, and the Powerstream will follow in early December. Both should begin volume shipments in the first quarter of next year. The chips are fabricated by a variety of foundries in the Far East, Europe and the US.