Clarkdale: The Perfect Home Theater PC

AMD was first to achieve it - the Radeon HD 5000 series support Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA bitstreaming over HDMI. With Clarkdale, Intel is the first to achieve the same with integrated graphics.

If you have a Clarkdale CPU and a H55, H57 or Q57 motherboard, you can bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA over HDMI. Outputting 8-channel LPCM over HDMI is also supported.

I’ve tested it and it just works. Using an Intel supplied build of PowerDVD 9 I had no problems bitstreaming either codec from a variety of BDs. My only complaints actually have to do with the PowerDVD software itself.

The PowerDVD Media Center interface for Windows 7 is much improved over the last time I used it. You can even select to bitstream the high definition audio codecs from within the interface:

The setting doesn’t remember itself unfortunately. There’s no way to always force/prefer the use of TrueHD/DTS-HD MA where available. You always need to select it manually.

It continues to be easier to play pirated/unencrypted Blu-ray content than legitimate content on the PC. While PowerDVD 9 has worked fine for me over the past few months, I have noticed strange behavior if you stop a movie in the middle of its playback and/or exit the MCE interface and attempt to later resume. Sometimes the software won’t recognize that you have a valid HDCP link between your PC and display and you’ll get a black screen instead of actual video output. The only way to recover in this situation is to reboot the whole machine.

Clarkdale is just perfect for an HTPC. You get the benefits of integrated graphics without sacrificing any features at all. It’s taken entirely too long but we now have the ability to have the same functionality from a PC as we get from a set-top Blu-ray player. Err, hooray?

Memory Performance - Not Very Nehalem Intel HD Graphics: A Lot Better
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  • Marcin - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    2D load Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The Radeon HD 5870 is quite power efficient if it's not running a 3D app. Our load tests were done using our x264 encoding benchmark to stress the CPU. That's why I used the 5870 as a companion in those benchmarks - makes overall system power consumption lower so we can better see differences between CPUs. Good job AMD :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Intel gives us this crap instead of 32nm P55. Reply
  • DrMrLordX - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Can we see results on an i3 530 instead? Some people with ES chips are reporting that i3s are not good for much of anything over 4 ghz. Also, the vcore on your 4.8 ghz is pretty high, even with water cooling. I would not want to run an i3 at that vcore on a daily basis.

    The phase results are really interesting, but I have to wonder how well this chip scales given the memory speed limitations you run into at higher BCLK.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    First CPU-Z screenshot on the overclocking page shows CPU @ 1.3GHz, I don't think this is the correct shot? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Speedstep and Turbo enbaled. The full load speed is 26X149 BCLK, so around 3874MHz.. Reply
  • Spoelie - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    True, comment on gaming benchmarks:
    " the Core i3s are good gaming chips - especially when you consider how far you can overclock them. "

    But how would you know, not having any in-house?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I've heard some very good initial results but I will be able to confirm when I get back from CES :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Suddenly it all makes sense. Intel would never enable 1080p decoding on Atom D510 not because of technical issues, but simply because it would kill the market for i3 even before it was released. The HTPC market does not need the i3 brute-power, but this is the only platform that will have HDMI and 1080p. If Atom D510 could do 1080p and had HDMI output then the choice for a HTPC would be a no-brainer. And excuse me, but I already have a gaming rig, so all I want right now is a HTPC to play PC content on my TV. And I won't buy a core i3 to do that, but I would buy a decent Atom board if it had the required HDMI and 1080p... so, for me, no HTPC for now... Reply
  • Kjella - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    That is why the old Atom + ION exists, excellent setup with 1080p acceleration and HDMI out. If you don't want it, wait until AMD or VIA/nVidia manages to work something out. Reply

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