CES 2007: AMD unleashes second generation of Live! platform

Las Vegas (NV) - One could have thought that the first, sort of half-baked effort of the first generation of entertainment PC platforms could also have the last. But AMD took another, more serious look at the market and announced Live! notebooks, a Live reference platform for the family room and a CPU-powered NAS system.

Media center notebooks have been with us for a while, but these systems were typically assembled from Puzzle pieces a vendor selected. The market has grown steadily and AMD believes that there is actually enough demand to offer its Live! platform of for notebooks.

Notebooks that carry the Live! sticker require, just like their desktop counterparts, a certain minimum equipment of hardware. This includes a dual-core processor (Turion 64 X2 TL-60 or faster) and 1 GB of memory. On the software side, the notebook needs to be equipped with Windows Vista Premium or more and, as a result, house enough graphics horsepower to run the Vista Aero interface. AMD Live! notebooks will get the same software as Live! desktops, which includes, for example, media compression tools, and free backup of up to 25 GB of digital media.

AMD Home Cinema

More significant is AMD's move into the family room. So far, Live! PCs have been built into the shape of traditional PC cases; the new "Home Cinema," however, is a reference platform that resembles more the shape of a traditional set-top box such as a receiver or DVD player. The device is a PC at its core and, other than most comparable devices, comes with a standard DVD burner. But, AMD spent some time to enhance the device and bring some additional functionality to make it look and sound like more like traditional A/V unit.

The reference platform includes the ATI-derived Open Cable Uni-directional Receiver card, short OCUR, which - according to AMD representatives - enables the device to record and playback high-definition video.

The company also claims that the platform is able to play 7.1 channel sound and is good enough to replace a home stereo. We were told that the devices can be built around AMD single- and dual-core processors and various Windows Vista operating system versions. First commercial devices that take advantage of the Home Cinema foundation are expected to debut in H1 2007 and start at about $1000.

AMD Home Media Server (picture shows an HP model)

Another interesting Live! device is the Home Media Server, basically a network attached storage (NAS) device that is equipped with a Sempron processor. AMD claims that the simple addition of the CPU increases the bandwidth capability of the device. AMD representatives told TG Daily that the NAS, which should come in the form factor of a shoebox-sized PC, can run PC-specific applications, automatically backup content, provide audio/video push-services and even run home automation software.