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Toshiba SpursEngine Add-In Video Cards Coming Soon

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 9 comments

Toshiba SpursEngine, released earlier this year is based on the same Cell processor technology as used in the Sony PlayStation 3 console.

The SpursEngine is designed to process high-definition (HD) video with its four Cell-cores.

Toshiba’s first systems to include the SpursEngine are the Qosmio G50 and F40 notebooks, which were unveiled in June of this year. PC Add-in cards are slated to arrive soon, before the end of this year.

The SpursEngine is able to encode or decode HD video thanks to hardware based MPEG2 and H.264 codecs and can also upscale standard-definition video to high-definition on the fly without tying up the computers main processor. Card makers have hopes the SpursEngine will find its way to home PCs based on low-cost processors, such as the Intel Celeron – to offer high-end video capability.

LeadTek and Thomson both plan on introducing add-in SpursEngine based cards in the coming weeks. LeadTek’s card should arrive later this month, coming in at roughly US$286. Thomson’s cards should arrive by November and are expected to cost between US$375 and US$400. LeadTek recently showcased its card, the Winfast PxVC 1100 at the Ceatec Exhibition in Japan. The PCI Express card with 128MB XDR memory fits easily into a small form factor desktop and required only a very small heatsink to keep it cool.

A LeadTek representative manning the LeadTek booth claims the company hopes to use passive cooling for their cards versus a fan when they are released – this has yet to be finalized however.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2008 7:36 PM
    Did I miss something...why would you want a $250 to $400 card to take over SOME of the duties of a $50 to $999 video card. Have they considered putting these cards in 50" and up TVs instead? (I'm not sure how much these things do, but a $250 video card can clean up high def video nicely..remove noise from cable, correct dithering, ...)
  • 0 Hide
    evilshuriken , October 1, 2008 8:28 PM
    "The SpursEngine is able to encode or decode HD video thanks to hardware based MPEG2 and H.264 codecs".
    So this would be used for hardware accelerating video transcoding and playback?
    That sounds nice, but a graphics card can accelerate HD play back as well as play games for around the same price, and should eventually allow for acceleration of video encoding once the software is ready. So, is this really necessary?
  • 0 Hide
    kschoche , October 1, 2008 9:15 PM
    The cool part about this is that its an add-on, meaning you can still have HD playback/encoding/etc on a laptop or desktop sporting integrated graphics, which may save money and power depending on your requirements.
    However, imo the XDR memory requirement is absolutely crippling the cost effectiveness of these chip..

  • 0 Hide
    zarksentinel , October 2, 2008 3:29 AM
    need more detail on hows it work compare with gpu.
  • 0 Hide
    ceteras , October 2, 2008 9:28 AM
    A chip dedicated to multimedia jobs would be great if it could be included in low-power laptops, the kind used for casual tasks.
    If the price would not be too high, a celeron, atom or via processor, integrated graphics (for lower power consumption) + toshiba's SE could make a great laptop for a certain market segment.
  • 0 Hide
    ceteras , October 2, 2008 9:31 AM
    I also wonder, if the presence of a SpursEngine in a PC could someway lead to porting PS3 games on PC?
    That would be way cool, but I seriously doubt it will ever be done.

    And regarding comparisons with gpu, I guess this chip gets the job done with lower power requirements.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2008 2:08 PM
    For less than $200 I'd pick up an hd4850 before this gimick.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , October 2, 2008 6:44 PM
    we're saying that you get a video card when you only have integrated graphics. and yeah, an HD4850 would be a lot better and cheaper even if it is big or uses a lot of electricity.
    this could be interesting if it can be used in Folding or any application, but with a PS3, still pointless product. probably,there's excess manufacturing capability of cell chips.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 4, 2008 4:42 AM
    Toshiba will sell some of those cards only with their premium laptops, to people who doesn't know much about computers, and that's all. Rest will buy something like AMD Puma or similar.