Reading the specs for the next generation atom and I'm thinking it will probably handle HD streaming which is the main thing zacate and current atoms can't do. Anyways looks like there is potential for a completely passively cooled, super low energy, HTPC.
Let's hope it's better than CedarTrail. I was psyched for the D2700 and I did use it in a few builds but not HTPC -- a couple of audio server and office PC builds. The biggest fiasco with CedarTrail was the GPU driver support. Horrible. It's like they just gave up.
The next generation zacate is suppose to be quad core also so it should handle HD netflix and have decent drivers, the only thing is that I don't think it will be nearly as efficient as a 22nm intel part. But yeah, if MS and AMD worked together to support silverlight in hardware acceleration even the current generation zacate would run HD netflix just fine. fairly frustrating.
Recent Atom processors have opted to use graphics processors licensed from PowerVR, the same company responsible for the GPUs in iOS devices and other smartphones and tablets. But Valleyview brings things back in-house: it will offer a seventh generation Intel-made GPU with four execution units.
In plain English, this is the same graphics technology used in Ivy Bridge's HD 4000 and HD 2500 GPUs, though those parts have more execution units—16 in the HD 4000 and just six in the HD 2500. The GPU should support the same APIs as the Ivy Bridge graphics parts: that means DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL 1.1 should all be present.
With Valleyview's GPU, you'll get all the media-related features of a modern GPU—Valleyview's GPU can decode H.264, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG 4, and VC1/WMV9 video and encode H.264 and MPEG2, and an included VXD392 coprocessor can also decode H.264, JPEG, and VP8, but the reduced number of execution units means you're not going to get staggering 3D performance in desktop games.
What you do get is a GPU that can decode a 1080p stream at 60 frames per second while using just five percent of the CPU's power, which will be very useful for video playback—the GPU also supports Intel's Wireless Display technology to enable AirPlay or Miracast-like streaming to a TV from mobile devices. The GPU's two display pipes support up to two simultaneous displays at once over HDMI, DisplayPort, DSI (for the tablet versions), and VGA (for the desktop and mobile versions).
Ok so I am understanding it correctly in general though - that if your software and hardware both support accelerated encoding that some of the process is offloaded to the GPU to speed it up?
They have an actual hardware encoder built into the GPU. Dedicated silicon specifically for a few codecs. AMD, Intel, and Nvidia all now have hardware encoders in their latest GPUs instead of the last generation CPU/GPU accelerated processes.