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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  • marc1000 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Indeed, I want an Atom+ION, but it has not yet come to public availability in Brazil. And Intel is killing ION with the new Atoms, so I believe I won't ever see a Atom+ION board here, because the stores will only launch only the "newer" Atom boards (that is, IF they even launch it...) Reply
  • efficientD - Saturday, January 09, 2010 - link

    The other problem with and atom setup is the low cost no L3 cache Athalons. With a decent 785G mainboard, you can get much better performance in only a slightly bigger package for about the same HTPC money. That is the direction I would go if I could build an HTPC right now. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The reason for high idle and in some way, high load power is due to the Asus board. Not only that, but the H57 chipset.

    The Intel H55 mobo will lower power consumption enough to get it below the i5 750 and i7 860.
    Reply
  • Kaleid - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Would these be chips on would dare to overclock considering the foxconn socket problems that has been reported here @ anandtech? Reply
  • Zool - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Its quite confusing now, with 9 desktop and 11 mobile i-xxx cores now. Not a single digit shows core numbers or the gpu on the new 32nm cpus.
    Actualy its a total mess now for a average user.
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I second your opinion!!! Perhaps Intel hired some marketing folks from Nvidia!!! =D Reply
  • Harry Lloyd - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    So which chip is responsible for HDMI Audio - the CPU, or the H5x chipset?
    Can we get HDMI audio support with a Lynnfield CPU?

    And one other thing - I assume we can use HDMI audio without haeving to use the integrated GPU (for display) when we have a PCI-E card?
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The GPU on the processor. Reply
  • Alberto - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The main problem is the Motherboard, likely an early sample not much optimized. Both Xbit Lab and The Tech Report have found a lower idle system power consumption in the new Intel plataform versus the Lynnfield solution. Maybe This article needs of a fast update :-) Reply
  • Alberto - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The italian site www.hwupgrade.it have discovered even better results. Over an Intel DH55TC motherboard this new cpu is IMPRESSIVE at idle.
    Intel seems right again.
    Reply

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