Here's a few interesting articles I came across regarding the "future" of DVD upconversion
[quotef805e0f5df]Toshiba goes Quad Core with the Qosmio laptop series
Three new models serve up HD quality from SD discs
So we've just emerged from the darkened depths of one of the most heated press conferences we've ever seen to mark the launch of Toshiba's Qosmio F50, G50 and X300 Quad Core laptops.
[bf805e0f5df]Why was it so heated? Simply because Tosh unveiled its Quad Core HD technology to claims that these machines can run HD quality films from bog standard DVDs via a dedicated processor for Blu-ray rivaling images, leaving three other processors simultaneously able to process and work at premium speeds on other things. Multitasker.[/bf805e0f5df]
Equally, if not more exciting, is the inclusion of hand gesture control, Minority Report style. A quick demo and lift of the hand, palm facing the Qosmio's screen saw the film playing instantly pause. Same gesture again and we're up and running. Using a dedicated series of pre-determined gestures ("to avoid people just making rude signs" according to Toshiba), you can move between files, control the mouse cursor, click by flicking your thumb down, flick between multimedia apps with the swipe of a hand and more. It looked and worked pretty well in our mini hands on.
Dressed in slick glossy black, the F50 and G50 each offers real time upscaling of standard def pictures to HD quality, video editing, high speed transcoding (the demo showed it to be twice as fast as non-Quad Core rivals), and that hand gesture control.
The F50 serves up a 15.4-inch screen, compared to the G50's 169 widescreen 18.4-incher.
The third entry is the altogether gaudier X300, ridiculously branded the Fire Shark thanks to its lurid red flame design. It may appeal to some but we T3ers thought it looked like a souped up Citroen with flames painted down the side.
Targeting the gaming market, the X300 is drowned in a sea of funky red LEDs, casing and detail for a "refined and tactile experience".
It's not all about the rouge though, as under the flashy flame featured bonnet sits an Intel Core2 Duo Extreme CPU, dual HDDs and GDDR3 SLI graphics. An NVIDIA GeForce graphics chip and Harman/Kardon sound system round out the deal.
[bf805e0f5df]There was no doubt however that it was the Quad Core HD processor and claimed top quality upscaling that ruffled the feathers of some of the older, more set-in-their-ways journalists attending the event. Us? We're willing to try anything that means HD quality results from DVDs we've already paid, happy to sit back and watch the cynics fight the merits of Blu-ray 'til downloading takes over.[/bf805e0f5df]
We'll be covering the new Tosh lappies in a video review later on so keep them peeled for a visual hands-on and then let us know what you think[/quotef805e0f5df]
Then, there is this article that covers just a tiny bit more detail
[quotef805e0f5df]Toshiba laptop touts 'quad-core' processor
(Credit Toshiba)The "Quad-Core HD Processor" used in the Qosmio G55--due mid-July--is based on the SpursEngine which is derived from the Cell Broadband Engine, a multicore chip architecture jointly developed by IBM, Sony, and Toshiba. The Cell architecture, in turn, is derived from IBM's Power Architecture. Today, IBM uses the Cell processor in a line of blade servers.
The four processing elements inside the chip have a clock frequency of 1.5GHz, while boasting a relatively low power envelope of 10 to 20 watts. Typical mobile Intel processors have a power envelope of 35 watts.
The SpursEngine can deliver up to 48 GFlops (billion Floating point operations per second) or 12GFlops per processing element. Every element has 256KB of integrated memory, according to Toshiba. And the processor excels at high-definition video encoding and decoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 (MPEG-4) streams.
(Update the Qosmio G55's main processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo--it will be offered with a "Montevina" Centrino 2 processor --while the graphics chip is an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT. The SpursEngine is a co-processor that accelerates certain multimedia tasks.)
As discussed in an earlier CNET Crave post, Toshiba is touting the Cell processor's special features. The Japanese company says that the processor achieves what many high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) from the likes of Nvidia and AMD now feature transcoding acceleration. Transcoding, or converting--movies, for example--from one format to another, can be extremely time consuming, sometimes taking hours.
A typical 1GB movie can be converted--or transcoded--in less time with the help of the SpursEngine processor what might ordinarily take an hour can be done in as little as ten minutes, the company said in a statement. This is a feature that Nvidia is also promoting aggressively on its newest GTX 280 graphics processor announced Monday. In short, offloading multimedia-intensive tasks to a specialized processor (like an Nvidia GPU or Toshiba SpursEngine) can speed up many common tasks dramatically.
Toshiba is touting other uses too. The processor allows the user to pause, fast-forward, and rewind a movie "just by moving your hands." Toshiba calls it "gesture control."
And this is what Toshiba says about a "Face Navigation" feature. "Find that face--or that unforgettable scene in home movies and Hollywood films...The new Toshiba Face Navigation feature captures facial expressions so you can quickly locate the part of the video you want to see."[/quotef805e0f5df]
[quotef805e0f5df]Quad Core HD Processor
The company's new Quad Core HD Processor is at the heart of Toshiba's new upscaling technology. It integrates high definition H.264 and MPEG2 encoders and decoders alongside four 128bit SIMD RISC processors, and works in parallel with the device's CPU.
[bf805e0f5df]It's not just upscaling that the chip helps with either. It can also video index material by 'remembering' faces on film, something which could be invaluable for videomakers. As is the chip's ability to increase video editing and transcoding times.[/bf805e0f5df]
[bf805e0f5df]When asked if the upscaling tech would be used in new DVD players, Thompson refused to comment but did hint at things to come by adding "There's absolutely no reason why the technology couldn't be used in televisions."[/bf805e0f5df]
By Marc Chacksfield[/quotef805e0f5df]
I almost forgot... The DVD Forum apparently approved a new logo for use with the DVD format
[quotef805e0f5df]Tokyo (Japan) - A new DVD logo released by the DVD Forum has added to the speculation surrounding Toshiba’s HD-enabled DVD player that is expected to become available later this year. The organization chaired by Toshiba approved the “DVD Download/DL” logo during its most recent Steering Committee meeting.
Since Toshiba’s decision to drop out of the high-definition race with Blu-ray we learned that Toshiba will not jump on the Blu-ray train, but worked on cheaper DVD players that will feature enhanced image scaling capabilities. While there is no definite information on Toshiba’s technology yet, it is widely believed that these new DVD players will be based on the company’s SpursEngine 1000 processor, a trimmed-down version of the Cell BE CPU, in order to deliver higher quality video scaling than what is offered in DVD players today.
But it looks like that Toshiba is looking to get DVD players much closer to Blu-ray in terms of other features as well. During the most recent DVD Steering Committee meeting held on June 11 in Los Angeles, the organization approved the DVD Download/DL logo, which is speculated to describe Internet connectivity to extend content stored on a DVD. No further details have been made public about the logo.
The DVD Steering Committee also approved updated specifications Chinese HD DVD format (C-HD DVD) and has not yet cancelled further discussions on the general HD DVD format yet. In addition to several specification approvals passed in the February 27, 2008 meeting the Committee also passed the HD DVD-Video Product Requirement & Guideline Version 1.2 in the June 11 meeting.[/quotef805e0f5df]
From what it sounds like, we might have internet-enabled DVD players and web content on DVD discs coming soon. I'd like to try out those new Quad-Core machines and see how this modified "Cell" chip performs at upconversion.