Company: ATI Technologies
Authour: Rage3D
Date: June 15th, 2006
IRC Chat with Blair Birmingham and Jason Slaughter

Hello everyone .. Jason Slaughter here from ATI Multimedia. I have with me Blair Birmingham as well.


QUESTION: Uhm, is it public yet that they're ditching MMC in favor of Catalyst Media Center or whatever?

As you've seen we've announced Catalyst Media Center as part of our new Theater 650 Pro product... going forward you'll see it on more and more of our products.
Ultimately MMC will go away for new TV Tuner products, but it will be available for download for older products on ATI.com and supported for quite a while.

 

Question: I work with closed captions. Current AIWs allow capture of line 21 (captions) and all VBI lines (great stuff). Will there be a AIW based on Theater 650 that will do EIA 708 captions and will it give access to the full DTVCC Transport Channel?

Sadly, we can't comment on unannounced products. But would such an AIW do closed captioning and everything else? Probably. We support closed captioning and VBI with our current AIWs.

 

Question: When will ATI truly and fully support output to HDMI connection and full 720P and 1080P output?

Well, that's more of a question for our Radeon guys, but I do know that Sapphire and Gigabyte announced X1600 HDMI and X1300 HDMI recently.

 

Question: It's clear that video processing capabilities have come a long way with the AIW series. Do you forsee an eventual equality between what we view on TV and what is rendered by our AIW cards?

Well, there are lots of things to consider. On the capture side, we have a DTV group at ATI which produces TV chips for high-end consumer electronics under the Xilleon and Theater brands.
That video decoder (including 3D comb filter, noise reduction, edge enhancement, etc) is what makes up the video input processing capabilities of the Theater 650 Pro. That's part of the "Avivo" hardware for capture.
On the display side, we've got a big graphics engine which has a lot of processing capabilities. You've probably seen our "HQV" scores, of 123/130. What you might not know is that consumer DVD players routinely score less than 60 on that test.
So the pieces are coming together. The short answer is Yes. Absolutely.

 

Question: Has DRM had any positive/negative effects on the work you are doing? Are you aware of any problems or advantages it will produce for ATi in future?

These days, DRM is a fact of life. We of course follow all of the rules we need to in order to meet the requirements for the DRM necessary to bring premium content to the PC.
In some way yes, this means more work and development for ATI. However, on the bright side, it lets us bring content to the PC that wouldn't otherwise be there.
A good example is the "OCUR" device that we've worked on with Microsoft. This finally allows encrypted OpenCable content to future OEM Vista PCs. The digital cable available in the US. This is the TV content everyone in the US wants on their PCs.
So yes, DRM means some additional development, but it also means opportunies for new and better content on the PC.


Question: As ATI continues marching foward in the chipset market, do you suppose that AIW would become integrated onto the chipset, for an "all-in-one" motherboard solution?

As usual, we can't comment on unannounced products. For motherboard makers today they could put Theater 650 Pro on the motherboard with a PCI-E connection (go call up your motherboard manufacturers and ask for this please! :) )


QUESTION: Are there any plans to offer more user control over the picture settings? Similar to the new viddy features in nVidia's new control panel with the edge sharpness & noise reduction features?

Well, since this this multimedia, I'll talk about our capture products. The Theater 650 Pro announcements to press mentioned that we'll have a new applet for changing all of the features of the Theater 650 Pro video decoder. That includes noise reduction, 3d comb tweaks, etc. So yes.

 

Question: can we expect, with the upcoming release of windows vista, to have the catalyst control center and the multimedia center more tighly integrated (in a more natural, transparent way) into the operating system, for even easier and faster use?

We're looking at lots of improvements to Catalyst software for Vista of course, and we're working very closely with Microsoft. Unfortunately I can't comment on any specific features.

 

Question: with the release of the theater 650 how much longer will we wait to see cablecard based tuners from ATI?

As you've seen, we've announced an OpenCable (cablecard) product that will be available when Vista arrives for new OEM PCs. Theater 650 Pro doesn't have anything to do with CableCard directly, but of course it does allow you to get free-to-air content on today's PCs.

 

Question: Is hdcp over hdmi through windows Vista a feature we should see when Vista is released, or will it take a new product release?

The HDMI products from our partners today support HDCP over HDMI already.

 

Question: With HD video becoming more and more popular, how long will it be before we see HD input capabilities on the AIW series? I can see this becoming especially important as HD-DVD and Blu-Ray media hits the market?

Currently no All-in-Wonder has an HD input. You know I can't comment on unannounced products. :) There are valid reasons to have an HD input on an All-in-Wonder, but we don't have one today.

 

Question: What is the most requested feature for up coming AIW products?

In general, people want faster All-in-Wonders, digital (ATSC) inputs (we already gave them DVB-T in Europe), hardware MPEG2 encode, and even better video quality.

 

Question: In the average lifecycle of one of your products, from concept through design and release to obsoletion, what do you feel is the greatest pressure on you in your role?

Product lifecycles have been shrinking. They're already very short on the graphics side and we're seeing the same thing come to TV tuners. Our standalone TV tuner products have lifecycles of many years (TV Wonder Pro, HDTV Wonder), but the All-in-Wonders are always a bigger challenge. We're always trying to provide the latest ATI graphics technology to customers and balance that with cost-effective All-in-Wonders cards such as the All-in-Wonder 2006. We enjoy the challenges of leading in a high tech market.

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