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Broadcom Unveils Netbook Video Decoder

The Crystal HD video decoder boosts performance on netbooks using Intel's latest N450 Atom processor.
Broadcom has introduced a single-chip video decoder for computer manufacturers that want to give a performance boost to Intel's latest Atom platform for netbooks.

The Crystal HD is being offered for netbooks that use Intel's new N450 Atom processor and NM10 Express chipset. Broadcom says Asus, Dell, Samsung, and other manufacturers will ship netbooks with Crystal HD next year.

The new product is based on Broadcom's BCM70015 single-chip, high-definition video decoder. The company claims its product is "low-cost, low-power" technology that can deliver quality playback of streaming HD video.

Netbooks, which are inexpensive mini-laptops with screens between seven and 10 inches, are built for basic computing tasks, such as Web browsing and e-mail. Broadcom and other companies offer chips that offload video and graphics from the CPU in order to boost system performance.

"Our Crystal HD technology provides high-quality video playback within a low-power, low-cost solution that will enhance the consumer netbook experience in 2010," said Dan Eiref, VP and general manager of Broadcom's consumer electronics division.

Crystal HD uses similar technology to that Broadcom makes for set-top boxes and consumer media players. The netbook product can play back video in multiple formats, such as H.264/AVC, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV9, MPEG-4, DivX, Xvid, and AVS. The technology also supports popular media players, including Windows Media Player and Adobe Flash Player.

Intel introduced its next-generation Atom platform on Monday. A major advancement in the latest netbook platform from the previous generation is the integration of a graphics and memory controller on the same piece of silicon as the CPU. The combo reduces the number of chips from three in previous products to two, which will make it possible for computer makers to build slimmer netbooks, according to Intel.