The new XBMC is out and it comes with a host of new features. The most interesting feature is the native support for VDPAU, which is a hardware acceleration technology for NVIDIA graphics chips. This will change the balance in the selection of hardware for my future HTPC.
You see, I have always been partial towards using a pure AMD/ATi hardware combo. However, with better hardware support for NVIDIA, playback of high-def videos would be smoother. Therefore, it brings new boards into the picture. There are entry-level NVIDIA based motherboards with the NF8200 chipset and then there is the new and exciting ION platform form NVIDIA.
I am likely to go for the regular NF8200 based chipset as that is the lowest possible chipset that supports VDPAU technology. It is far cheaper than the ION platform and it us more readily available in the market. I can get an ECS black motherboard with this chipset and HDMI for RM 265 (EUR 55). It can be cheaply coupled with a low-power AMD Sempron processor for another RM115 (EUR 25).
This combination, along with a decent amount of memory, should be able to produce stellar graphics performance for playing back almost any sort of video content. Of course, the features of the new XBMC do not end here. It also comes with a bunch of new codecs and other improvements. The full list is detailed here.
PS: Now, if only the prices for the 32LG53 TV would come down a notch. I’m all ready to jump onto the high-def band wagon!