Habey USA, a subsidiary of Norco Industrial Computer Technology, which specializes on industrial personal computers has announced the world’s first Intel Atom processor-based platform designed for home-theater personal computers with hardware decoded for high-definition video. The platform support modern video formats as well as plethora or outputs and may become the heart of HTPCs from branded vendors.
Habey model BIS-6550HD (BPC-7852 mainboard) is based on Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz) central processing unit and Intel 945 GSE + ICH7M core-logic with integrated graphics core, just like the rest of low-power nettop systems from other manufacturers. However, Habey also installed a hardware video decoder chip (akin to those used inside Blu-ray disc players) that supports real-time decoding of H.264, VC-1 media contents at up to 40Mb/s, MPEG-2 at up to 125Mb/s, which is needed to playback Blu-ray discs. According to the maker, the decoder is very power efficient.
The platform from Habey features D-Sub, HDMI, composite and S-Video outputs, built-in CompactFlash socket, SecureDigital reader, two Serial ATA ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet, optional wireless card and HDTV tuner and so on. Unfortunately, audio-over-HDMI feature is not supported.
It remains to be seen whether the world’s first Intel Atom-based platform with hardware HD video decoder will have enough CPU power to process AACS, BD Java menus and enhancements found on Blu-ray disc players. In case Atom is capable of that, the platform may become an interesting solution for an HTPC and an alternative to Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M core-logic/Ion platform for multimedia enthusiast in budget. Otherwise, Atom is a useless chip in HTPCs featuring Blu-ray drives.
Unfortunately, Habey does not sell mainboards or platforms in retail and only provides them to interested system integrators and it still remains to be seen whether a company wants to sell branded Intel Atom-powered HTPC.