LogicSupply's BCM970012 PCIe mini card for 1080p on Intel Atom

Audio|Video|Misc | Short Takes
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February 4, 2010 by Mike Chin

Products
Broadcom Hardware Decoder BCM970012 - PCIe Mini Card
Sample Supplier
Logic Supply
Price
US$59 - $10 off w/ SPCR10 coupon code

Logic Supply's Broadcom Hardware Decoder BCM970012 is an unusual product. It is a PCIe Mini Card that provides video/audio hardware acceleration and enables support for H.264 and VC-1 video decoding like playback of Blu-ray discs and streaming 1080p high definition multimedia content. It is meant specifically for netbooks and nettops that lack built-in support for HD video.

We're talking about Atom-based systems running on the Intel chipsets, which have taken the world by storm over the past couple of years. None of them really have the ability to play HD video. The problem is lack of computing horsepower in the CPU and the absence of hardware video decoding support in the chipset.

If you have an nVidia ION based Atom system, however, HD video/audio playback is generally fine. HD video decoding support is the ION's trump card over the Intel chipsets for Atom. But if you have an Atom PC with an Intel chipset that you're thinking of replacing for a new machine capable of HD, Logic Supply's BCM970012 PCIe Mini Card could be just what's needed to extend the useful life of your netbook or nettop for another year or two. Many Atom netbooks, nettops and devices have a mini PCIe slot. An add-on that extends PC life has got to be worth examining for just the ecological benefit alone.

The device itself is tiny, measuring about 1"x2", it's just a little PCB, like most devices that plug into a PCIe Mini slot.


Front and back sides of the Broadcom Hardware Decoder BCM970012 - PCIe Mini Card from Logic Supply.

The main chip on the device is a Crystal HD decoder BCM970012. Here is Broadcom's description:

From the Broadcom BCM970012 Product Page:

The chipset is a single-stream HD AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2 decoder solution capable of full HD real-time decoding. The high performance and low power consumption of the solution allow reduced CPU utilization and support for mobile platform designs.

The chipset supports any compliant resolution from QVGA up to 1920 x 1088.

As part of the Crystal HD Enhanced Video Accelerator solutions from leading OEMs, the BCM70012 enables feature rich 1080p streaming multimedia experience on netbooks and nettops. With support integrated within Adobe Flash Media Player, the vast library of online content from sites like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Crackle is now available for enjoyment on netbooks and nettops at low cost and without sacrificing the portability and long battery life of these platforms.

  • Multistandard high definition video decoding in the following formats:
    • H.264/AVC HP at L 4.1 1080p/1080i, 40 Mbps
    • SMPTE VC-1 AP at L 3 1080p/1080i, 40 Mbps
    • WMV9 (VC-1 SP and MP)
    • MPEG-2 MP @ ML and MP @ HL
  • QVGA to Full HD (1080p) support
  • Streaming Media playback on netbooks/nettops
  • Blu-ray disc playback on netbooks/nettops
  • Protected media playback on netbooks/nettops

It all sounds good. The key question is whether it works, and how well. That's what we're here to find out.



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