Imagination Technologies: Atom-based Netbooks With Poulsbo

I met up with Imagination Technologies, makers of the PowerVR SGX graphics core that’s used in Intel’s Poulsbo chipset - the ideal companion for the Atom processor. Most netbooks to date have shipped with Intel’s 945G chipset, but we’re finally starting to see models come out with Poulsbo. The biggest advantages to Poulsbo are much lower power consumption as well as hardware video decode acceleration for all of the major codecs (MPEG-2, VC-1, H.264).

Quake III Arena + Cyberlink PowerDVD playing Blu-ray quality content, all on a netbook

I got a quick demo of a Dell Inspiron Mini 12 decoding a 1080p H.264 Blu-ray rip (20 - 35Mbps) while running through a Quake III timedemo. The video clip didn’t drop any frames and the Quake III demo ran at above 30 fps. The engineers on hand indicated that a real concern in these sorts of situations isn’t the GPU horsepower, the PowerVR SGX core can easily handle the two tasks, but rather memory bandwidth. Poulsbo only supports a single channel of DDR2-533 memory, barely enough bandwidth by today’s standards.

The Imagination Technologies staff also ran a dual stream video decode demo where they had a Atom/Poulsbo netbook playing one 8Mbps H.264 video and a 1080p H.264 video on an external display, simultaneously. Again, memory bandwidth is the only limitation here - the Atom never peaked above 29% CPU utilization.

Imagination Technologies also announced the PowerVR SGX543 at the show, a much faster (up to 40%) graphics core than what’s in Poulsbo. The SGX543 will probably show up in designs in about 2 years.

Four H.264 streams from Apple's Trailers website, all playing at the same time, without so much as a hiccup on Atom/Poulso

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View All Comments

  • Zoomer - Saturday, January 24, 2009 - link

    To be fair, the eee isn't 1.2lb like the sony is.

    Would probably make a difference in their overstuffed handbags.
  • VooDooAddict - Friday, January 9, 2009 - link

    Netbooks are slow. Even these $500-$900 units being toted here.

    People are usually willing to take 2 out of 3. I'll take slow, portable, and cheap. but not slow, portable, and expensive. Netbooks have a perfect niche under $400.

    I've got an Acer Aspire One it's perfect... for $300. If I had paid $500+ for this kind of performance I'd feel robbed.

    To even get a glance $900 that Sony for $900 needs a dual core Atom and 2gb of ram.
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, January 10, 2009 - link

    Netbooks aren't THAT slow. A modern netbook could run Windows 95 fantastically. They can even handle XP ok. But Vista + Atom = slow, no. You simply can't run Vista with the current Atom lineup. Reply
  • aeternitas - Sunday, January 11, 2009 - link

    I hope you mean Windows 2000. There is no reason to run Win95 on anything anymore. We have light distros of Linux for hardware that slow with way more functionality and compatibility. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    You'd be an idiot to run Windows 95 on anything connecting to the internet. My point was that Vista cannot run on crap hardware. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Friday, January 9, 2009 - link

    I believe Microsoft's dev team has released an unsupported driver that allowed the wireless NICs under Windows to be emulated, allowing you to link an emulated wireless with any of the free Wireless AP software that is available today.

    Also, many MB manufacturer's who have the wifi cards also bundle it Wireless AP software.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, January 9, 2009 - link

    Or, verify that the hotel actually does not allow multiple devices to use the same MAC. I accidentally found that our network (with MAC filtering) at work does not care if two systems use the same MAC address. Reply

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