AMD officially launched its “Trinity” line of second-generation AMD A-Series APUs for notebooks two weeks ago and systems will be hitting the store shelves in a few weeks; desktops are expected later this summer. Reviews are showing that AMD significantly increased its performance per watt over its predecessor, “Llano,” and as a result, Trinity is competitive with Intel on battery life as well. One set of special hardware and software features AMD collectively refers to as the AMD HD Media Accelerator relates to a visibly enhanced and faster multimedia experience, which I think deserves a closer look as mainstream and techies users alike can benefit significantly from their use. It is also good indicator that chip makers are focusing even more on the end user experience and ways to improve it.
Smooth out shaky videos
All of us reading this column have taken a shaky video on our smartphone, palmcorder or camcorder. Whether it’s soccer games, track meets, or the first time our babies run, we all take shaky video. And all of us have watched a shaky video, too, and people relate differently. Some have no issues, but many do and won’t even watch the video. My wife actually feels sick watching any video like this and I’m sure she isn’t alone.
To smooth out these videos and remove the “shakes”, AMD developed AMD Steady Video technology. When run on a Trinity-APU system, AMD Steady Video technology significantly reduces the amount of jitter the user experiences when watching these videos. It is also done automatically without user intervention when video is displayed on supported browsers and media players. AMD Steady Video works with the top web browsers and media players. AMD Steady Video web browsing is supported by Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. The feature is also supported in Windows Media Player, VLC Player, and ArcSoft and Cyberlink media players, too. This covers an incredibly wide swath of global users.
Improve video quality on any device
One of the technologies more sophisticated users can appreciate is the AMD Accelerated Video Converter. This technology significantly accelerates the recoding and transcoding of video. Recoding means changing the format and size of a video. This helps when users capture video in a very high quality format that is very dense, but want to put the video on their phones, tablets or even upload to YouTube. Recoding the video makes it smaller or places it into a different format where it can be better viewed, shared or edited. Transcoding means recoding and playing back the output in real-time versus storing and sharing. This is the area where the AMD Accelerated Video Converter significantly improves the experience because it cleans up that same video at the same time as it’s recoding the video.
Transcoding comes in handy when you have devices spread out all over the house with video files on them and you want to watch those videos on a myriad of devices from TVs to PCs to game consoles to tablets to smartphones. Transcoding optimizes the video specifically for the playback device as every device prefers different kind of video. A “Trinity”-based notebook using the Accelerated Video Converter with a program like ArcSoft Link+ acts as a “media server” and transcodes the video and sends it to the playback device. The source file doesn’t have to be on the “Trinity” notebook; it can be on any device in the home and if it supports the latest DLNA protocol and if on the same LAN. DLNA isn’t niched anymore as it is supported on virtually every new major consumer electronics device and will even be the basis for all future set top boxes that will stream protected content around the home.
As a final benefit, AMD Perfect Picture technology is a video post-processing capability that works in concert with AMD Steady Video such that all the video that passes through the Trinity-based notebook is cleaned up to look sharper and have richer, more accurate colors. As a result, users can playback better looking video on their companion devices regardless of where they are in the home. This usage model may be for the more sophisticated users, but through features like Apple’s AirPlay and iTunes Share, consumers are getting much more comfortable playing back content from remote devices
Speed up file downloads
Today on a Windows-based PC, there isn’t a QOS (quality of service) arbiter to determine which application gets bandwidth. Users can be downloading a gigantic file like a movie, game, or app and the rest of the system is useless for anything like web browsing and video conferencing. With data density increasing at a faster pace than bandwidth, this will become a larger issue in the future. This is where AMD Quick Stream assists.
AMD Quick Stream adds the QOS feature that Windows lacks. The concept is simple; it provides equal access to each download. If four apps are downloading content, each app gets 25% of the available bandwidth. With three apps, each would get 33%. I found this feature useful as I was downloading a game in the background, looking up stuff on the web, and doing a Skype call. The system just felt more responsive.
By adding the AMD HD Media Accelerator to all Trinity APUs, AMD is in many ways bucking the tech hardware industry rut of feeds and speeds that don’t demonstrably improve the end user experience. This is neither a minor investment nor a desire to load systems with bloat-ware; these are expensive technologies designed to improve user’s expressed areas of pain while fitting into very small resource footprints. The multimedia features are also comprehensively released and supported for multiple web browsers, media players, and home data protocols which ensure widespread deployment and regular updates. What AMD has done with AMD Steady Video and AMD Quick Stream is undoubtedly positive for end but also a positive message for the ecosystem, too.