Toshiba Formally Unveils Notebooks with SpursEngine Chip

Toshiba’s New Laptops to Upscale DVDs to Nearly High-Definition Quality

by Anton Shilov
06/24/2008 | 08:36 PM

As expected, Toshiba Corp. has formally announced details about its Qosmio laptops that feature the company’s SpursEngine multimedia processor that is supposed to upscale standard-definition video to “high-definition quality” and also offer a number of additional features, such as face recognition and gesture recognition.


Both new Toshiba Qosmio G50 and Qosmio F50 mobile computers are based on Intel Centrino 2 mobile platform and feature slightly faster mobile Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processors than those available today. Both machines are aimed at multimedia oriented end-users and feature either 1920x1080 (G50) 18.4” or 1280x800 (F50) 15.4” screens along with Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT mobile graphics processing unit, digital TV tuner as well as Toshiba SpursEngine multimedia co-processor. Like all high-end laptops, the new Qosmio from Toshiba feature extensive set of various connectors and connectivity options.

The main purpose of SpursEngine SE1000 chip inside Toshiba Qosmio notebooks is to upscale standard-definition DVD video content to nearly high-definition quality using a special technique. The extensive upscaling technique is supposed to bring back high-definition videos to Toshiba hardware after the company dropped its HD DVD high-def format and refused to equip its devices with Blu-ray disc. It remains to be seen whether very-advanced up-convert technology actually enables high-definition experience.

Another feature offered by Toshiba’s software that takes advantage of SpursEngine’s processing capabilities is “Face Navigation” feature that recognizes and memorizes faces as they appear on screen, and displays them in an easily searched index that can be used to playback video segments featuring a specific person. In addition, Toshiba’s Qosmio notebooks powered by SpursEngine SE1000 offer “Scene Thumb” feature for easier navigation to a particular scene.

The high-end Qosmio G50 series also adds “Gesture Control” for gesture-based interfacing: simple hand movements captured by the PC’s integrated CCD camera, can be used to control video playback and pause, for example, without a mouse or remote controller.

Toshiba Qosmio G50 and F50 notebooks will be available in late July, 2008. Actual pricing depends on configuration and varies from country to country.

SpursEngine is a co-processor that integrates four of Cell high-performance RISC core SPEs, half the number of the full configuration, hardware dedicated to decoding and encoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 video, XDR memory interface as well as PCI Express interface. By combining the high level, real time processing software of the SPEs with the hardware video codecs, the SpursEngine realizes an optimized balance of processing flexibility and low power consumption. The prototype of SpursEngine operates at a clock frequency of 1.5GHz and consumes power at 10W to 20W.

The SpursEngine SE1000 reference board is compliant with PCI Express 1.1 x1 and x4 slots, sports 128MB of 1.6GHz XDR memory and carries SpursEngine processor at unknown clock-speed.