San Jose, California-based Chips & Technologies Inc is shipping a video controller that can route video data through the PCI or VL bus of a portable computer, obviating the need for a feature connector or proprietary interface. This saves manufacturers the cost of cabling and space on the board, making it easier and cheaper to […]
San Jose, California-based Chips & Technologies Inc is shipping a video controller that can route video data through the PCI or VL bus of a portable computer, obviating the need for a feature connector or proprietary interface. This saves manufacturers the cost of cabling and space on the board, making it easier and cheaper to offer computers with multimedia capabilities. It also offers a performance advantage, says the company, because as video data is brought in via the bus, it can be stored in the frame buffer, as opposed to as an overlay, so users can capture, store, manipulate and print the image. To reduce power consumption and increase performance, the 65548 controller uses a compression method that takes advantage of the way screens display information: in most cases the majority of the screen is the same colour, information which is stored in one byte to three bytes per pixel which uses up lots of memory and takes up a lot of bandwidth; the 65548 takes that information but for 100 pixels and stores it in offscreen memory. This leaves the majority of the bandwidth for processor access. Power consumption is also reduced by the controller’s ability to take advantage of high-speed Extended Data Out dynamic RAMs. Central processor unit overhead is also minimised with proprietary Windows linear acceleration drivers and an integrated BitBLT, Blocked Transfer, engine that gets the controller to do the work of moving Windows around the screen. The 65548 supports the 32-bit VL local bus and the PCI bus, and features a direct 32-bit memory bus and 16-level First In, First Out buffer for fast memory write and zero-wait-state processor operation. Built-in video overlay capability enables access to virtually any video source and display live video images in a Windows environment. It offers simultaneous cathode ray tube and flat panel operation, which the company said is hardly something punters are clamouring for but means that if a user wanted to make a presentation to an audience she could view the notebook screen while also displaying images to the audience on a cathode ray tube display. The device supports resolutions up to 800 by 600 pixels, with up to 64,000 colours in both active matrix and dual scan displays. Virtual display drivers enable users to run high-resolution cathode ray tube applications on a smaller flat panel screen by panning the larger virtual screen. The 65548 has a video port for backwards compatibility with the company’s existing family of flat panel controllers. The 65548 is fabricated in 0.6 micron process and available in either 208-pin plastic quad flatback or 256-pin Ball Grid Array and is available now for $30.