Support for the next generation of Windows Media technology, code-named Corona, got another boost today when major graphics-card makers announced that they will directly support Corona video playback in the silicon of their next-generation products. ATI and NVIDIA will build support for Corona directly into their video cards, enabling high-definition video playback on Windows-based PCs.

"Windows Media Corona is validation that Microsoft shares our goal of advancing the PC as an entertainment device," said Dan Vivoli, vice president of marketing at NVIDIA. "Corona is designed to harness the performance power of our graphics processor units (GPUs), resulting in a seamless home-theater-quality experience on any desktop or notebook PC."

Corona is the technology behind version 9 of Microsoft's Windows Media technologies, which will ship late this year. Corona will include server components, such as the Windows Media Services that will ship in Windows .NET Server, and desktop components, such as Windows Media Player (WMP), as well as new audio and video codecs and various tools. Corona's audio and video codecs supply a 15 percent to 20 percent performance and quality improvement over the previous versions.

ATI and NVIDIA also announced support for DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA), a 3-D interface that enables video processing, including Windows Media Video (WMV) decoding and de-interlacing, on graphics hardware, freeing the PC's CPU for other tasks. DXVA will provide the basis for the UI in Longhorn, the next Windows release, which will use hardware 3-D rendering, when possible, to speed up and enhance the UI.