The second graphics card based on Toshiba’s SpursEngine chip, Thomson’s Firecoder Blu, went on sale in Japan this week.
The SpursEngine is derived from the Cell Broadband Engine microprocessor that runs the PlayStation 3 but includes four graphics processing cores, which is half as many as the Cell, and doesn’t have an on-chip controller CPU. The chip contains a hardware encoder and decoder for MPEG2 and MPEG4 AVC/H.264 video and is designed to be used as a co-processor in a PC for handling of calculation-intensive work such a real-time high-definition graphics processing.
Thomson’s new graphics card makes use of these characteristics and is aimed at people watching, editing or burning high-definition movies with Blu-ray Disc. The company says it can transcode AVCHD, a common format used in consumer high-def camcorders, to and from MPEG2 at up to 5 times faster than real time.
It works with Windows XP and Vista systems and costs ¥52,290 (US$539). It will be available in the U.S. in December and will cost $599.
Last week Taiwan’s Leadtek launched a board based on the SpursEngine. The WinFast PxVC1100 costs ¥29,800.