Sapphire shows off two unusual parts

CES 2011 Leftovers: HTPCs and a new AIW

Sapphire LogoAT CES, AMD partners weren’t showing any new GPUs, mainly because the only ones that came out were mobile parts. Sapphire did have a few interesting pieces to show off though, including a full HTPC.

The first one is a new card, the 5570 XtendTV, a modern take on the All In Wonder cards of yesteryear. These new cards have a Mirics TV chip on board, allowing you to view any content your TV can see on your PC. From there, you can simply use Media Center or whatever other program you have to TVR, record, or tweak the things you are watching. Sadly, there are no Linux drivers, DRM may remove rights, but it adds cost.

Sapphire 5570 XtendTV card

Sapphire 5570 XtendTV card

The interesting bits come in with the FlexiStream software Sapphire provided, it has one huge feature, streaming. When you are not home, you can take your live video and stream it to your laptop, work machine, or anything else that can view the output. Best of all, the setup uses the ATI AVIVO block for encoding and decoding of the video stream, so CPU usage should be very light. DRM issues that can cripple legitimate functionality aside, this could be handy for road warriors.

Sapphire mini-HTPC

Mini-HTPCs now come in deep blue

Next up is an unnamed mini-pedestal HTPC, something you knew that Sapphire was going to do sooner or later. This current one is an Atom + Ion, so it should be more than good enough to support the basic HTPC tasks. If not, you can always stream things from your 5570 XtendTV and use the horsepower on your PC to do what you want.

When asked about Brazos, the Sapphire guys would not commit to anything solid, but smiled a lot. Looking at the tea leaves, we can see the calendar they are sitting on clearly enough. It says CeBIT is a few days away, so here’s to hoping.

Last up, Sapphire was showing off some cables, most notably a USB3 cord. These are very likely to be sold along side the Sapphire mobos and HTPCs. Getting excited about a cable is hard to do, but putting out things like this is a logical move, and there is no down side for the user.

Even in the absence of major chip releases, Sapphire shows that you can do interesting things when you are allowed to break free from the reference design handcuffs. The company is in a very interesting position to pull in videos, stream it to their HTPCs or things on the road, and keep it all in their ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how they can leverage the blocks they now have in place.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate