Available: TBA
Manufacturer: APEX Digital

Article by: Burt Carver
Reprinted with permission from TechBits.ca

Details of a new PC gaming console emerge... VIA, S3 and APEX partnering to compete with PS2 and XBOX?

Hopefully not another 'Phantom', APEX Digital is scheduled to announce a new PC gaming platform. The current name of the product is the ApeXtreme Console, and will be announced at CES in Las Vegas.

A complete image of the console can be found here.

The console will be announced at an event where VIA Technologies is the primary sponsor. It is rumoured that the console will be based on the CN400 chipset, a recent introduction from VIA. The chipset addresses one of the main deficiencies of the CLE chipset by allowing for an AGP chip.

Richard Brown, Associate Vice President of Marketing for VIA Technologies has indicated that the console will be available in two 'flavours', one with an integrated Unichrome graphics core (MSRP $299) and one with the DeltaChrome graphics chip (MSRP $399) from S3 Graphics, another VIA asset.

Nadeem Mohammad, Product Marketing Manager for S3 stated, "S3Graphics is excited to partner with Apex Digital by providing our latest DeltaChrome graphics processor as part of the core technology of the ApeXtreme Console. We feel that the ApeXtreme Console is an outstanding platform for current and next generation PC-based games without the constraints of proprietary licensing."

The console is described on the CES website as:

ApeXtreme is an electronic game console that plays games designed to be played on a personal computer. Its Windows® architecture means that the ApeXtreme is not platform-dependent like other consoles.

Clearly this console is targeted at the consumer electronic segment, as Apex has a strong presence in this segment with their line of DVD products. The Windows compatibility of the machine indicates that it will have broader functionality then the XBOX and PS2, and allows greater choice of software to be run on the platform. The Windows XP operating system is embedded, and optimized for quick boot times for 'instant-on' capability. The unit targets the following tasks:

    * Gaming (up to and including Dx9 titles)
    * DVD Playback (Integrated Mpeg 2 decoder and six channel audio)
    * MP3 Playback
    * Image Viewing

Anticipated specifications are as follows:

    * 1.4 Ghz C3 processor
    * 20 GB Hard drive
    * 256 MB RAM
    * DeltaChrome or UniChrome based graphics chip

Anticipated connectivity options are as follows:

    * USB 2 ports
    * DVI / S-Video output
    * Ethernet / Modem
    * SPDIF

Looks like, with 5.1 channels out and the integrated audio controller, you could run a rather inexpensive console / home theater PC with High Definition natively supported. One of the key benefits of the DeltaChrome is the ability to de-interlace signals, so a 480p image rivaling the best DVD players on the market is possible.

When asked about PVR functionality, Richard Brown replied, "Not yet", which may be a glimpse of the next generation ApeXtreme. While there is a pricing spread between XBOX and this platform, this platform provides additional functionality seamlessly that XBOX and PS2 can’t touch, all in a compact, living room friendly package.