Poulsbo's Graphics: Full HD Decode and not Made by Intel

The graphics core used in Poulsbo is actually not designed by Intel. While Intel wouldn't reveal the true designer, it did confirm that the core was made architected by and licensed from a 3rd party. We asked why and Intel simply stated that this 3rd party was further along in developing a very low power graphics core, and it simply made sense to license it rather than produce its own. This is a significant departure from Intel's standard operating procedures when it comes to integrated graphics in its chipsets, and highlights how very different the Atom project was from previous designs.

Update: Imagination Technologies has announced that Intel uses the PowerVR SGX graphics core and the VXD HD video engine.

The 3D block of Poulsbo was designed by Imagination Technologies

The graphics core does include a full HD video decode engine that can fully accelerate H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1 video streams. Intel claims that the engine is capable of decoding full bitrate Blu-ray movies however it lacks the ability to decode a second stream, and thus can't be certified for use in a Blu-ray device. Intel claims that the platform will only consume 120mW during H.264 decode.

Then there's the issue of output resolution. The graphics engine only allows a 1366 x 768 output resolution, so while it can decode a full 1080p HD stream, it can only output it at a lower resolution.

On the 3D side Poulsbo's GPU is said to support both DX9 and DX10, but the initial driver will only support DX9L. Honestly, in situations like these we'd be surprised to see anything beyond the initial level of graphics support. GPU performance isn't going to be anything tremendous but we did see Poulsbo running UT2004 quite well in a live demo. Intel told us to expect a 3DMark '05 score around the 150 point mark.

The 2D engine in Poulsbo is still an Intel designed block.

Poulsbo: An Unusually Revolutionary Chipset Lower Power than Centrino


View All Comments

  • adntaylor - Tuesday, April 8, 2008 - link

    On that chart with price / power, you need to be clearer...

    For price, you show the combined price for CPU + Chipset. For power, you say just the CPU... so 0.65W for the CPU... but you're conveniently ignoring the >2W figure for the chipset!!! This absolutely flatters Intel wherever possible.

    AMD are just as misleading - they describe the Geode LX as "1W" which excludes the non-CPU core parts of the chip (which is an integrated CPU + GMCH)

    Just please be honest - the figures are out there in the Intel datasheets... it takes 10 minutes to check.
  • Clauzii - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    I still have a PowerVR 4MB addon card, runnung in tandem with a Rage128Pro. Quite a combination w. 15 FPS in Tombraider. Constant(!) 15FPS, that is..

    Amazing what they actually achieved back in 95!
  • Clauzii - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link


    Totally misplaced that. Sorry.
  • wimaxltepro - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    The Atom represents a shift in processor architecture that is the most dramatic departure for Intel since introduction of x86 processors... the philosophy of how computing itself occurs from centralized processors to distributed processing based on an extension of the popular x86 instruction set.

    The Atom is not about the immediate prospects for the Atom or Nehalem products: we will likely see members of Intel's new product family be used in embedded applications in consumer products and in areas where specialized communications processors are more the rule. While not optimized for use in specific networking applications, the products capitalize on the wide range of support available in IT/Networking to develop common functions that leverage the low cost, low power/processing capability to be used as a common denominator for a wide range of applications.

    Intel has been built on the 'Wintel' architecture: massively integrated chips needed to handle the massively integrated operating systems and applications of Windows (and Apple) environments. The Atom allows migration and broadening out from that architectural motif to a very highly distributed architecture. So, the increased parallelism found in the internal chip architecture is enabling of changes in external system architectures and device applications that go well beyond the typical domain of Intel.. and right into the domain of 'personal wireless broadband' and SDWN, Smart Distributed Wireless broadband Network.

    The decisions about in-order vs. out of-order instruction streams, memory architecture, I/O architecture have been made in light of the broad vision for how computing, networking and, out of hand, how wireless enabled broadband networking including WiMAX will occur. This should be understood for what it represents as a shift in direction for Intel both in response to broad industry shifts and as a trend setting development.
  • jtleon - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    Thanks to all the flash player ads, etc., a mobile web device will continuously avoid switching to low power states. Thus one could argue that advertising will be carbon footprint enemy of the internet's future. This is already becoming the case for desktop/laptop machines.

    Without such continuous (arguably wasted) consumption of CPU power, then Intel's engineered power management might have a significant impact on the value of the Atom.

  • 0WaxMan0 - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    I am definatly much impressed and enthused by intels work here, the future looks interesting esp for those of us who like low power cross compatible computing products.

    However I have to point out that a low power modern x86 cpu has allready been done infact 4 years ago with AMD's Geode. While technically much weaker than the Atom and with out any where near the scalability (single core design etc.) the Geode has been available in the same TDP ranges for a good long while. Take a look here http://www.amdboard.com/geode.html">http://www.amdboard.com/geode.html for some old stuff.

    I do hope that the Intel name and hype makes more of an impact than AMD managed.
  • whycode - Thursday, April 3, 2008 - link

    Does the TDP quoted include the chipset? Or is that CPU only? Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, April 3, 2008 - link

    Anand, the Pentium M does not feature Macro Ops Fusion. Its Core 2 Duo that started Macro Ops Fusion. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 3, 2008 - link

    You're correct, I was referencing micro-op fusion. I've made the appropriate correction :)

    Take care,
  • squito - Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - link

    Am I the only one shocked to see that Poulsbo is a 130nm part... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now