Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's a Viiv PC?

Our home PC(s) are getting old and will need to be replaced in order to take advantage of the coolest Vista features.  Having a Media Center PC would also let us do some things on our TV (like Hi-Def, Tivo-like DVR) that are long overdue for a family like ours.  But how do you know which PC is future-proof?

An easy way is to follow Intel's Viiv specs. According to this nice summary in Byte, Building A Viiv PC requires the following components:


A chipset that is from one of the Intel 945/955/975 Express chipset families. Viiv also specifies an Intel dual-core processor, including the Pentium D, Core Duo and Pentium Extreme Edition.


Another important Viiv ingredient is an NCQ SATA Hard Drive. NCQ stands for Native Command Queuing, which increases a SATA drive's performance by letting it receive more than one I/O request at a time and letting the drive itself determine the order in which to carry out the requests. A remote control is not required for Viiv compliance, but Windows MCE does require a Phillips Key Code MCE-Type remote for full functionality.


A Viiv-compliant motherboard featuring a 945, 955 or 975 chipset must also include an Intel ICH7-DH chip (the DH stands for Digital Home). The ICH7-DH enables Intel's Matrix Storage Technology which supports NCQ hard drives and RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. The ICH7-DH can take advantage of NCQ without needing an actual RAID array or more than one hard drive. Viiv also specifies a gigabit NIC, which all three chipsets support.

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