Lights, Camera… Opteron!

Advanced Micro Devices Tuesday said it has scored a deal to install its new server-class 64-bit Opteron processors in digital cinemas run by the Landmark Theatres movie house chain.

The playback systems, developed by Digital Cinema Solutions (DCS), will use AMD Opteron processors running Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series software.

The machines are expected run 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server operating systems when they become available. Landmark said it would be rolling out the new systems nationwide this year.

“AMD has an understanding of how important independent filmmakers are in moving digital technology forward. We are thrilled to have them on our team,” said Jim Steele, president of Digital Cinema Solutions.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD says since its processors were used to create special effects in many of the films being run at the movie houses (“Men in Black II,” “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” and “Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones”), that using their chips again for playback should make it a better show.

“The quality and clarity of digital video will be unbelievable,” AMD vice president and general manager Marty Seyer said in a statement.

The AMD Opteron processor is based on AMD’s eighth-generation processor core, and is 32- and 64-bit compatible. The company officially launched the chip for servers and workstations back in April 2003.

The deal is also a commercial validation of the Windows Media 9 platform (formerly code-named Corona).

Released last September, the software touts audio and video quality at any bit rate as well as the first 5.1-channel surround sound codec for the Web. It can be used to create live and on-demand audio and video content and comes with a new streaming server in Windows .NET Server 2003.

Microsoft originally debuted the platform for Internet and home theater systems, but the Landmark deal marks one of the few times it will be used to replace traditional film systems.

When it was announced, organizers at the famous New York-based film gathering — IFP Market Rough Cut Showcase — encoded and digitally screened four films using the Microsoft platform.

Earlier this year, the Sundance Institute approved the Windows Media 9 Series as an accepted screening format for the annual Sundance festival.

Last month, Microsoft announced its media software is being snapped up by professional television and cable broadcast groups including the Associated Press.

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