ATI launches Theater 550 Pro chip

Chicago (IL) - ATI's Digital TV division today provided details on its upcoming Theater video decoder chip which will be integrated in the manufacturer's future All-in-Wonder cards.

The Theater 550 Pro will replace the current Theater 200 chip in the not to distant future. The 12-bit chip features 3D Comb Filtering for NTSC and PAL and 5-line 2D Comb Filtering as well as improved noise reduction which will result in significantly higher image and video quality, according to ATI.

"The chip will deliver output similar in quality to HDTV, which we currently only see in TVs of the $5000 range," spokesperson Chris Hook said. "Over time, the chip will be built into all All-in-Wonder products from the entry level $100 card to the top-end $500 card." Initially, the chip will be seen in TV tuner cards and then moved into the All-in-Wonder cards in 2005.

The company also expects notebook manufacturers such as Acer, Compaq, and Quanta to integrate the Theater 550 Pro. The chip is equipped with PCI and PCI Express interface and does not require a heatsink or cooling fan.

ATI believes that the chip especially will play its role in PCs running Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition. According to a statement, the functionality and performance may rival those of high-end PVRs and television sets.

The official announcement of the Theater 550 Pro is scheduled for October. The chip is currently sampling and is ramping to production, ATI said. A range of products from firms such as Gigabyte and Microstar are expected to appear on retail shelves within the next few weeks. Tul used the opportunity to already announce its product, named Powercolor Theater 550 Pro today.