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Review: ATI Avivo Video and Display Engine - Technology Discussion

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 20 September 2005, 00:00

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabsw

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Avivo overview

Naming the beast

The timing of this article, some weeks before the hardware that implements the features we look to explain to you, is telling. Avivo is part of the next generation of ATI graphics products that they think deserves some limelight. ATI's multimedia team, major architects of the feature set implemented by Avivo, recently made a small tour of Europe to get the Avivo message out to web and print editors. Their reasoning for doing so, avoiding the upcoming Technology Day for the new products, centers around wanting to push Avivo as a separate entity, keen that the new capabilities for video and display don't get lost inside the 3D side of things.

Avivo to ATI is just as important as the 3D performance Multimedia worked with Desktop to create the collection of technologies. Godfrey's boys therefore needed a name. And Avivo wasn't choice number one.

You'll maybe have heard the name Kaleidoscope attached to an ATI product in the past, likely due to a slightly off-base Anandtech article where they tie the name to an IGP product. While Avivo technology certainly will feature in future IGP products, the then Kaleidoscope name was the name for the wider technology umbrella. Seemingly displeased with Kaleidoscope ("nobody can spell it properly!") they sought new nomenclature.

Next up was Clarity. What does Clarity conjure up for you? Images (ho ho) clear as crystal? Perfect vision? Excellent quality? Yeah, me too. Great name for a collection of video and display technologies I think we can all admit. So they binned that one too.

Instead, Avivo! If you press ATI on what Avivo stands for, and I bet you're thinking something like Advanced Video In and Video Out, they'll tell you it means absolutely nothing at all. That's not strictly true, I kid, I kid. The VIVO part of the name definitely has the correct connotations if you've used a discrete graphics card in the last few years. It's just.....not as good as Clarity or Kaleidoscope (my favourite, and some of us have the noodle to spell check!).

We promised ATI we wouldn't jest too much on the naming, so I'll leave the fun-poking there. Onto the meat and two veg of what Avivo promises to bring to the table.

The Fall 2005 Avivo Collection

We'll use ATI's own process diagram here to get the Avivo discussion rolling.

Avivo Video Path

The important first concept to understand is that Avivo is a collection of technologies that implement that video path, from input to output along the intermediate stages, but that a single Avivo-capable device doesn't have to provide all stages. Currently, a full Avivo implementation in your system would have to comprise a Theater 550 PRO-based capture card and a Radeon R5-series based display adapter.

The Theater 550 PRO card would provide the capture stage and part of the encode stage, the R5-series card providing transcode ability as part of the encode stage and the last three stages of the video path, including the new display controller for output.

Each stage is worth discussing discretely, starting with Capture.