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 Post subject: LogicSupply's BCM970012 PCIe mini card for HD on Intel Atom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:05 pm 
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LogicSupply's BCM970012 PCIe mini card decodes 1080p on Intel Atom

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Last edited by MikeC on Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:52 pm 
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LogicSupply probably wouldn't appreciate this, but I feel obligated to mention that you can get system pulls for like $20 on eBay.

I just recently picked up one of these cards and plan to install it in my netbook. The only complaint I've really had with my netbook is no ability to play back high def video, so this will be a nice little upgrade. Another cool thing is that software and driver support seems to be great. There are open-source Linux drivers available for the card, and application support is also good (supposedly Flash and Media Player Classic support this card). It's nice to see that it doesn't add much power consumption, that was one thing I was kind of worried about.

edit: And I see this was addressed in the final paragraph. That's what I get for replying before reading the entire review.

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 Post subject: so-so
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:11 pm 
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as an upgrade to an existing system, or if you must need a totally silent PC, this card might make sense.

for a new system, it doesn't: $60 goes a long way towards upgrading to any number of real CPUs that will not only decode HD, but do everything else much quicker.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:48 pm 
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So, now we know it only takes a watt or two to decode 1080p. Atom plus this Broadcom chip could make a compelling low power HTPC. I wonder how many appliances* this Broadcom chip is in?

* DVD players and TVs that stream hulu, netflix, etc...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:06 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
So, now we know it only takes a watt or two to decode 1080p. Atom plus this Broadcom chip could make a compelling low power HTPC. I wonder how many appliances* this Broadcom chip is in?

* DVD players and TVs that stream hulu, netflix, etc...

It's quite possible that those elcheapo eBay items are overruns, rejects, back-of-truck losses, etc from OEMs for big brands.

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Last edited by MikeC on Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:19 am 
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I think its a great product. I like how many corporations build niche products like this nowadays instead of just going the "safe" way...

The only sad part is probably that many of these workaround products shouldnt have been needed in the first place.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:43 am 
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impressive stuff.

it goes to show how truly efficient chips can be when designed specifically for a single purpose. the rrp is kinda steep, but the ebay deals look solid.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:00 am 
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Anyone actually tried the Broadcom Linux drivers on this or similar products? I'm wondering if there is Linux support, or "Linux support".


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:23 am 
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andymcca wrote:
Anyone actually tried the Broadcom Linux drivers on this or similar products? I'm wondering if there is Linux support, or "Linux support".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:44 am 
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Well the drivers and libraries are open source, so it should be trivial for devs to add support to GNU applications. Getting the card working in Linux isn't something I've really experimented with, though.

http://www.broadcom.com/support/crystal_hd/

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:37 am 
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Has anyone tried it with Hulu, fullscreen High setting?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:28 pm 
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Great review! I've been wondering about this since I saw it in Pine Trail's chipset diagram. IMO, this is a major move made by Intel.

1) This allows Atom to play HD content. One of the biggest cons to an Atom computer is its inability to play HD content. With this, now any Atom machine, whether it be nettop or netbook, can do HD. Before the only way to make Atom HTPC-capable was to get better graphics for it, ie Nvidia's ION, which brings me to my second point.

2) Nvidia's ION is now purposeless. ION was created to give Atom 'modern' integrated graphics instead of integrated graphics from three years ago. ION's main pupose was to offload video processing because the Atom chip can't do it. ION has no other purposes, since it's a terrible graphcs card. (in terms of gaming) So now, this Broadcom chip replaces ION completely and elegantly. The Broadcom chip can do everything that Nvidia's ION solution was set out to do. Not only that, but the Broadcom chip uses a fraction of the 9400m GPU that ION uses. Intel has effectively shut out Nvidia from the Atom platform!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:37 pm 
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I'm assuming this would have virtually the same benefit on an older laptop (C2D) that uses the i945 chipset + IGP. Is this correct?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:58 pm 
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Yup, should work great for HD playback on any system with a mini PCI-e slot. You could even get a mPCI-e to PCI-e adapter and use it in a desktop, but it would probably make more sense to get a cheap graphics card instead. Even the low-end $30 ones these days support H264/VC-1 decoding.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:05 pm 
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angelkiller wrote:
...... Intel has effectively shut out Nvidia from the Atom platform!

Not sure whether Intel was involved. Broadcom makes a bunch of other HD chips for Bluray players; it may have been a relatively simple sidestep to do the 70012. Unless.... Broadcom is owned by Intel?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:36 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
angelkiller wrote:
...... Intel has effectively shut out Nvidia from the Atom platform!

Not sure whether Intel was involved. Broadcom makes a bunch of other HD chips for Bluray players; it may have been a relatively simple sidestep to do the 70012. Unless.... Broadcom is owned by Intel?

Intel didn't like ION. Pine Trail uses a DMI to connect the CPU to the chipset instead of a FSB. (Which the 9400m uses) Nvidia doesn't have a license from Intel to use DMI. (scroll down) Intel also specified a "Third Party Low-Cost HD Video Decoder" that can optionally be used on the Pine Trail platform. So Intel specifically added support for this Broadcom chip on this platform.

I think Intel purposely shut Nvidia out. I mean, I don't think Intel's only goal was to shut Nvidia out. Pine trail uses 2 chips instead of three, so some changes had to be made. (eg DMI instead of FSB) But they realized two things. A) ION was no longer compatible with Pine Trail and B) ION is popular because it adds HD decoding to Atom. Users wanted to be able to play HD content on Atom, so Intel responded with the inclusion of this Broadcom chip.

I think this was a good move by Intel though. (the inclusion of the Broadcom chip) Ion's graphics are pretty overkill for just decoding video. As a result, Ion's power consumption is high. It would be much more power efficient to have chip dedicated to HD decoding than have a whole IGP dedicated to HD decoding. So now, Atom can decode HD content at Atom power levels, instead of ION power levels. Same thing, lower power consumption, higher power efficiency.

I don't think Broadcom is owned by Intel. They do compete for wireless chipsets. Both companies make wireless chipsets and it wouldn't make sense to own a company that would manufacture a competing product.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:02 pm 
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Don't most netbooks have their mpci-e slots taken by their wireless cards? I just pulled my G965 notebook apart and I would lose my network card if I wanted one of these. I DO have a express card slot that would work on this machine, but most netbooks don't have those.

I could be totally wrong here, and I'd have to go check out my netbook at home to verify this.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Canadian Shipping --- 36USD$ ..... *clenches fists*


Can't they stuff this in an envelope?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:25 pm 
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cloneman wrote:
Canadian Shipping --- 36USD$ ..... *clenches fists*

Yeah, that's ridiculous! The thing's smaller than a standard book of stamps!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:36 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
Unless.... Broadcom is owned by Intel?


Absolutely not.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:23 pm 
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Hi, I didn't read the whole article... but did you know that intel atom chipset artificially limits the output display resolution? So it is impossible to output 1080p through a DVI connection on an Atom system unless it is either a nvidia ION platform, or has a discrete graphics card.

I know this is true for pine trail, I assume it is true for atom + 945GM as well. What monitor did you test with? I scanned through the last page and couldn't see it.



EDIT: found source...
Quote:
Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3692&p=2


Last edited by DAve_M on Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Atom + 945GSE doesn't have that limitation, max resolution is 1900x1200 @ 60Hz.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:41 pm 
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frostedflakes wrote:
Atom + 945GSE doesn't have that limitation, max resolution is 1900x1200 @ 60Hz.


That really sucks that intel have done this for pine trail for no reason other than to segment the market (they want your money to go into a core i3 system or at least CULV system for notebooks), rather than getting a low power, silent, HD media centre based on atom :x


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:00 am 
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DAve_M wrote:
Quote:
Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3692&p=2


If this is true, Pinetrail is useless for HTPC, in my opinion. Could someone confirm this limitation?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:09 am 
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dCrypt wrote:
DAve_M wrote:
Quote:
Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3692&p=2


If this is true, Pinetrail is useless for HTPC, in my opinion. Could someone confirm this limitation?

Not really. From the same article: "Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768, over analog VGA you can do 2048 x 1536 (only 1400 x 1050 on the N450)." I've used VGA at 1920x1200 on a big screen TV; the video quality difference vs. HDMI is too small to be perceived clearly by me. Still, it's a PITA not to have HD resolution through HDMI.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:00 am 
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Has anyone seen the ExpressCard/34 version for sale anywhere (a.k.a. BCM970012IC)?

While I could replace the mini-PCIe wireless card in my netbook, it's near impossible to find a decent ExpressCard wireless adapter, so the ExpressCard version of this Broadcom chip looks like a better alternative.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:33 am 
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Does this card provide all modern sound formats as well?
(DTS HD, Dolby TrueHD, THX)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:35 am 
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dCrypt wrote:
If this is true, Pinetrail is useless for HTPC, in my opinion. Could someone confirm this limitation?


It's pretty disappointing. As long as Intel D945GSEJT is about, it should be still possible. At least then you get mobile parts, lower power consumption (desktop versions of atom do not throttle back for no reason other than market segmentation again). You get a DVI output as well which is not too common.

I suppose ION2 will deliver whenever that arrives. nvidia should team up with VIA for the CPU. That could be a good combo. Steal some of Intel's sales.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:37 am 
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MikeC wrote:
dCrypt wrote:
DAve_M wrote:
Quote:
Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3692&p=2


If this is true, Pinetrail is useless for HTPC, in my opinion. Could someone confirm this limitation?

Not really. From the same article: "Max output resolution is also limited. The best you can get over a digital connection (HDMI/DVI) is 1366 x 768, over analog VGA you can do 2048 x 1536 (only 1400 x 1050 on the N450)." I've used VGA at 1920x1200 on a big screen TV; the video quality difference vs. HDMI is too small to be perceived clearly by me. Still, it's a PITA not to have HD resolution through HDMI.
The big problem is though, that the HDCP handshake doesn't work via VGA. My computer magazine confirms the limited output capabilities as well.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:26 pm 
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angelkiller wrote:
Great review! I've been wondering about this since I saw it in Pine Trail's chipset diagram. IMO, this is a major move made by Intel.


What they are doing is allowing systems to be upgraded to HD features, but leaving the base model as low cost as possible without this feature. They purposely left out this feature to differentiate it from upper level products.

angelkiller wrote:
2) Nvidia's ION is now purposeless. ION was created to give Atom 'modern' integrated graphics instead of integrated graphics from three years ago.


Not really, since the ION has 16 "processors" it can be used for other functions like transcoding video. Windows 7 is going to use OpenCL, so GPU cores can be utilized by future software. It may take a little while before more software uses OpenCL, but at that point the ION will have processors to support it, while the Broadcom device is a hardware specific decoder.

In any case, here is on PCIex1 adapter card for standard motherboards.
http://www.hwtools.net/Adapter/MP1.html

One question I have is whether it supports Windows Media Center for HDTV.


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