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Intel piggy-backs support for 1394 on ATI announcement

After all it said about USB, it's a bit embarrassed

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ATI today launched its latest All-in-Wonder video card. No big deal, you might think - the company was bound to upgrade the product after launching the latest generation of its Radeon graphics chip t'other week.

But this time, the launch was a little different. Firstly, ATI announced its support for IEEE 1394 - a move of which we approve - and, secondly, so did Intel.

Intel has, of course, been something of a 1394 fence-sitter, occasionally wobbling over toward keenness on the connectivity standard - joining the 1394 Patent Pool, for instance - but usually swinging round to its own USB technology and dissing 1394 completely.

1394? Pah! Only useful for digital video freaks who want to hook up cameras to Macs. No, what you really want is USB, far more useful than 1394... or so we can paraphrase Intel's stance on the two buses over the last few years.

Of course, with Intel now pursuing its 'PC as digital hub' strategy, connectivity with consumer electronics kit is suddenly in fashion, and the chip giant is forced to embrace 1394. No USB 2.0 support in Windows XP, at least in the initial release, may have helped twist its arm on the matter.

Which explains why Intel is piggy-backing its support for 1394 on ATI's own statement of support. It needs to say these things, but it kind of hopes no one will notice.

ATI's motivation here is similar to Intel's - to take advantage of all that 'digital hub' marketing by actually allowing PC users to connect to 1394 peripherals through the All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500DV. All-in-Wonder essentially adds 1394 to its array of video-in ports, but it can also be used to hook up other peripherals, such as hard drives and CD/DVD units, too. The card also contains all the usual TV tuner and DVD playback functionality, along with DirectX 8.1-level 3D graphics acceleration.

It's a smart move on ATI's part, and will help further distinguish its products from rival boards based on Nvidia chips. It's not the first media card to bring 1394 to the PC - Creative Labs' Audigy has that honour, we believe - but it is the first graphics card to do so. ®

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