New silicon tuner
If youíve seen previous ALL-IN-WONDER cards, youíve no doubt noticed the huge Philips TV tuner ATI typically integrates on their cards. The old tuners didnít generate a lot of heat, and were quite responsive, switching channels quite rapidly, but they took up an enormous amount of real estate on the AIW board, swamping the entire upper portion of the PCB in most cases.
A close-up look of the Microtune TV tuner
The ALL-IN-WONDER X800 XT was the first AIW card ATI announced to use a new silicon tuner from Microtune, the MT2050, which sits underneath a gold-plated casing. The new tuner requires minimal external components, and contains fewer parts -- in turn allowing it to consumer less power and generate less heat. According to ATI, the MT2050 is able to generate a power saving of 11% over older tuners, while requiring 20% less surface area.
With graphics cores constantly running faster and requiring more power, larger, more elaborate cooling is often required, as you can see on todayís high-end graphics cards. They also require more power circuitry. By implementing a smaller, more power-efficient tuner into the AIW line, ATI can integrate more features on their AIW cards, even as they continue to scale to higher clock speeds with more memory. For instance, both DVI and VGA connectors are available on the back plate of the AIW X800 XT and AIW X600 PRO, both of which use the new Microtune tuner.
The new tuner delivers good visual quality, although we did notice that it isnít as responsive as the Philips tuner ATI used previously. Whereas the old tuner was flick-of-a-light quick when changing channels, thereís a definite two second pause when you change channels with the MT2050. If youíre familiar with older ALL-IN-WONDER and TV WONDER products that used the Philips tuner, youíll definitely notice the difference in performance.
THEATER 200 chip no longer rests on the bottom of the card
First launched with the ALL-IN-WONDER 9700 PRO nearly four years ago, the THEATER 200 chip is now a staple of ATIís WONDER products, and is the backbone of the AIW X800 XTís multimedia capability. The THEATER 200 chip receives the signals from the Microtune tuner chip, where it is then passed through one of the the THEATER 200ís two 12-bit analog-to-digital converters (many competing solutions use 9-bit ADCs). From the ADC, the signal is passed to the THEATER 200ís 2D 3-line comb filter, through the video scaler, and ultimately passed on to your monitor. The chip also handles all audio duties, performing audio demodulation and stereo decoding.
According to ATI, the THEATER 200 boasts an average power consumption of only 0.858 watts, as we mentioned earlier, this is critical for a high-end multimedia card like the AIW X800 XT, as its R420 VPU will consume the bulk of the boardís power; if companion chips like the THEATER 200 and TV tuner were power hungry chips as well, ATIís engineers would be forced to add additional capacitors and VRM circuitry to the board, complicating the cardís design and making it more expensive to produce.