Some owners of home theater PCs (HTPCs) want as much of the same experience as a typical cable user as possible, which means they need to install CableCards into their systems to access scrambled digital channels and the like. For those whose TV needs are less demanding, a PC with a TV tuner can get you unscrambled cable channels and over-the-air HD stations. AMD is courting the latter group with the launch of its new ATI Theater HD 750 video chip, which the company promises will provide superior image processing and signal reception compared to its competitors (and, presumably, AMD/ATI's previous entries in this arena).
The new chipset supports NTSC, ATSC, and ClearQAM broadcast signals to fulfill many of your U.S.-based TV-watching needs, and lets you record broadcasts in such formats as H.264, DivX, and MPEG4. If you make use of Windows Media Center, you can schedule recordings to tape on your hard drive, as well as pause and rewind live TV. None of this is revolutionary stuff, but one novel wrinkle is that if the ATI Theater HD 750 is coupled with an ATI Radeon graphics card, ATI Stream technology (which harnasses a GPU's processing power for CPU-like tasks) can be used to speed the transcoding process.
AMD hasn't announced any specific products that will make use of the new chipset, but the company promises that its partners will release them starting later this year and that they'll take the form of discrete PCI Express cards, USB sticks, and "other" solutions (whatever those turn out to be).