May 12, 2009, 8:57 PM — A prototype device due to be shown in Tokyo Wednesday may give laptop computers a better shot at performing heavy-duty video processing.
Space and heat considerations often limit the amount of computing power that can be packed into laptops. But Taiwan's Leadtek plans to unveil a prototype external video processor that brings the power of Toshiba's SpursEngine chip to portable platforms.
The SpursEngine was developed by Toshiba and is based on the same architecture as the Cell Broadband Engine microprocessor that powers the PlayStation 3 console. While the Cell contains a Power PC core and eight "Synergistic Processing Elements" cores, the SpursEngine contains only four of the SPE cores.
The chip also contains a hardware encoder and decoder for MPEG2 and MPEG4 AVC/H.264 video and is designed to be used as a PC co-processor handling of calculation-intensive work such a real-time high-definition graphics processing.
Leadtek already offers a plug-in SpursEngine board for desktop PCs and the prototype device essentially packages the board in a case with PCI Express connector for use with laptops.
The device will be on show at the Embedded Systems Expo that runs from Wednesday to Friday. Leadtek hasn't detailed when it will be available or a likely price but the PC Card costs about ¥29,800 (US$308).