updated 04:00 pm EDT, Tue March 10, 2009
Intel on GN40 and 1080p
Intel today confirmed that the GN40 chipset for Atom chips should be capable of playing 1080p video. Talking to Fudzilla, the semiconductor firm says the more advanced graphics acceleration in GN40 can decode most common bitrates of the full HD resolution without the stuttering and frame rate drops of the current 945 chipsets used with most Atom-based netbooks and nettops. However, Intel also warns that the video hardware isn't capable of fully processing the full output of Blu-ray, which has "significantly higher" bitrates as high as 24Mbps for the video as well as extra layers like picture-in-picture commentary.
What formats would play back smoothly aren't known, though formats like H.264 and WMV are often used for online video distribution and carry significantly lower quality which is easier to process.
The revelation is a partial gain for Intel, which has taken frequent criticism for poor video acceleration that has prevent netbooks from being used for modern 3D acceleration or HD video. Observers have cited this as a potential reason for hesitation by Apple and others regarding netbooks. NVIDIA has seized on this by promoting its Ion platform, which can play full-bitrate 1080p, and has accused Intel of withholding licenses for Core i7 processors as retaliation for luring customers away from Intel's own chipsets.