Next generation Intel Haswell video engine – covering all the standards in 2013
With more programmable multi format hardware assisted encode & decode pipeline, future Intel desktop and mobile CPUs are expected to provide pretty decent HD and even 4K (QuadHD) video content creation and playback experience, no matter what standard used.
Yes, we are stuck with 480i 'quality' TV for quite a while now (OK officially PAL standard is 625 lines, and NTSC AT 525 lines, but still, no improvement there for half a century). While there is a portion of HDTV programming, up to 1080i, for the past half decade, most programs are still created at the old quality level. If you record own content, of course you can get even 1080p60 or 3-D 120 Hz 1080 HD if using the right cameras – most new displays can handle 1080p60 well anyway.
The problem is that, for that recorded content, there are multiple standards of encoding and therefore decoding it, so the hardware side has to ultimately support most of them to ensure smooth real time playback as well as fastest possible encoding. And, even though we haven't yet used the HD to the fullest for TV and video content, the push is there already for the next level of quality, at QuadHD or 4K graphics, with 4 times more pixels or up to 4096×2304 recorded content quality – yes you need then a 4096×2560 16:10 display to show that plus the menu and editing buttons on top & bottom, I guess.
For the next push in the resolution and video quality, we can expect more of beyond-HD displays to enter mainstream by 2013 – Intel is expected to cover the required capabilities in its Haswell socket LGA1150 processors in that timeframe. The added key video capabilities in Haswell are expected to include full MVC and SVC hardware encode and decode, as well as much faster AVC processing, required for 4K resolution handling of course. JPEG and MPEG hardware decode is there to help handle large image and current video opening and editing, with up to 16K x 16K still image handling capability. MJPEG processing support is there also for common Webcam video conversations.
On top of it, there would be special effects hardware accelerated support, such as image stabilisation from shaky camera recordings, quite a common issue that plagues users, as well as colour gamut mapping and frame rate conversion in hardware for different display options. Other supported effects in hardware will include de-interlacing, reducing noice, sharpening and skin tone correction, among others – not bad at all for a general purpose CPU, after all.
The impact? Well, even your Haswell-based UltraBook will then be quite a powerful high-end video editing machine, with all these capabilities in hardware. You'll also have file browsers will fully shown JPEG images and MPEG movies able to browse hundreds of file entries in real time, rather then slowly waiting for image icons to render. DVD and HD, as well as 4K, authoring will also be faster. Couple it with the deep colour and 3-D stereoscopy capabilities mentioned before, and you got quite a combo there. And, since it will be included with nearly every Haswell CPU to ship, it will be supported by tens of millions of new PC systems by default, justifying more of higher-resolution screens for us out there.