A few months ago ATI finally launched its response to nVidiaâ€™s 7800 series of GeForce GPU in the form of the X1000 series of graphics processors.
While the battle for 3D gaming performance is at the heart of the graphics card, ATI hoped to gain extra brownie points by announcing its AVIVO platform. This is a technology that according to ATI was designed to provide the optimal video experience on the PC. The headline feature was hardware support for H.264 but this actually proved to be something of a damp squib as there was no driver support. However, this is set to change as at a press conference a couple of weeks ago, ATI revealed to the press that on December 22nd it will make Catalyst 5.13 available for download, which will finally enable hardware the assisted acceleration of H.264 on the X1000 series. For it to work you need a Radeon X1K series card, the Catalyst 5.13 drivers and a decoder, which will shortly be released by Cyberlink.
As ATI only committed itself to producing monthly driver updates, the 5.13 driver can be thought of an extra freebie for X1000 series owners â€“ think of it as a Christmas present from ATI. The benefits of the 5.13 driver though will apply exclusively to X1000 series owners. When asked why this was the case, Godfrey Cheng, Director of Marketing, Multimedia Products at ATI stated that supporting older hardware would mean devoting resources to two different codebases and that the company preferred to concentrate of fully supporting its next generation products. To my ears that translates to, â€˜we want everyone to buy our new cardsâ€™. You can hardly blame ATI for that, but itâ€™s still disappointing for those who recently spent a fair wedge on Radeon X850s.
AVIVO consists of three things â€“ Image quality, connectivity and HD Video. As far as image quality is concerned the key components are 3D Comb Filtering, which reduces image artefacts, 10-bit internal colour processing and a high quality TV-Out. While Maxtrox has offered 10-bit colour processing for many years with its G550 cards its introduction into AVIVO signals a step up for mainstream gaming cards and will become increasingly important as the colour gamut of LCD displays improves.