Home theater PCs aren’t new. But getting one that works, especially with HDTVs and HDMI, is now a lot easier with AMD’s Maui AMD Live! This platform is designed for Microsoft Vista Media Center and AMD Athlon processors. One key element, the AMD 780M chip set, includes Radeon HD 3200 display support with 128 Mbytes of sideport memory. This combination provides chip-set integration with the performance of a standalone video board with its own memory.
Systems based on this platform are designed to deliver high-definition content and a good user experience on the latest HDTVs. One of the first instances of this platform is MSI Computer’s MS-7411 (see the figure). The motherboard alone, which delivers 5.1 audio and a 100-W power amp that plugs into a PCI Express slot, eliminates the need for an external amplifier. Forget the PC speakers with this system.
Maui is designed to be combined with an HDTV via VGA/DVI, component or HDMI video, Blu-ray players, and high-performance audio components. The ATI Theatre 650 Pro adapter and Seagate’s Pipeline HD SATA II hard drive, which can deliver 12 high-definition streams at one time, can handle digital video recorder (DVR) support.
This platform will be showing up in a range of applications, from complete systems to bundles from outfits like Newegg.com. Check out “AMD Live! Home Cinema Platform” at ED Online 20164, for a more detailed review.