RealTime IT News

Chip Developers Thirsty for Microsoft's Corona

Microsoft Corp. tacked two more companies to its list graphics chip makers when it inked agreements with ATI Technologies Inc. and NVIDIA Corp. Tuesday. The firms agreed to support the Redmond, Wash. software firm's new DirectX technologies, which make high-resolution video playback possible using the new Windows Media technology, code-named "Corona."

Microsoft has created DirectX to enable video processing in hardware, alleviating the burden video places on the PC's central processing unit (CPU). The result? This can render video playback at HDTV resolutions as high as 1,080p, six times the resolution (number of pixels) of today's DVD-quality playback from a DVD player (480p).

ATI and NVIDIA will embed this technology in their graphics chips and cards. Initially released in Windows XP, DirectX Video Acceleration provides a common interface for hardware and software developers to use for the acceleration of video processing routines. DXVA de-interlacing with ATI Radeon 8500 and NVIDIA's GeForce4 graphics hardware was on display last week at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2002 and is scheduled to be available to consumers this fall.

One analyst approved of the deal.

"The PC is entering a new realm as an entertainment device," said Steve Kleynhans, vice president at META Group Inc. "This development could serve as the catalyst that elevates the PC to a mainstream role in providing a high-quality home-theater experience."

The deal signals the industry's continued acceptance of Corona. At NAB2002 a few weeks ago, video and audio production hardware and software developers, including Accom, Adobe, Avid, Creative Labs, Discreet, Drastic Technologies, Echo Audio, M-Audio/Midiman, Steinberg, Syntrillium and Winnov said they would support Corona in future products. In December 2001, major DVD player chipmakers pledged to add support over the next year for Corona audio and video.

Microsoft will soon introduce two new professional audio and video codecs. The new Windows Media Audio Professional is the first codec to enable Web-based delivery of 6-channel surround sound with full-spectrum, full-resolution audio (24-bit/96kHz sampling). Corona is scheduled to be available in beta late this summer and is on track for final release by the end of this year.