After facing delays and weak performance (relatively), AMD's Radeon HD 2900 might be facing its greatest threat: a scandal and a lawsuit.
Several Hardware reviewers has discovered that the HD 2900 lacks the much touted UVD hardware video processing engine which is responsible for decoding HD Video.
Despite its lack of UVD, AMD advertises that Radeon HD 2900 XT features AVIVO which AMD's official site describes:
ATI Avivo HD technology is designed for high-end, high definition video playback in home theater systems. Free your CPU to power other applications with new UVD (Unified Video Decoder) hardware processing of HD video formats.
UVD is a dedicated video decode processing unit on ATI Radeon HD 2000 series graphics processors that offloads both CPU and GPU rendering pipelines. UVD technology reduces power use, decreases system noise and increases notebook battery life during HD video playback.
Contacting AMD, they confirmed that UVD is available only in the 65nm HD 2600 and HD 2400 series. AMD pointed out that the official Radeon 2900 family introduction pdf mentions"ATI Avivo HD is a technology platform that includes a broad set of capabilities offered by certain ATI Radeon HD 2000 GPUs. Not all products have all features and full enablement of some ATI AvivoHD capabilities may require complementary products", but failed to explain why they never contacted trade publications to correct the misconception.
When trying to play an HD Video on a Core 2 Extreme X6800 and a Radeon HD 2900 XT, CPU utilization was around 50%, but AMD claims that full HD acceleration is present on the R600 ASIC, and it will eventually be enabled via driver updates.