Intel flips channel to consumer electronics

Intel flips channel to consumer electronics

Intel Corp. is stepping deeper into the consumer electronics market, hoping to put an Intel chip inside a plethora of home entertainment devices including televisions, portable media players and PCs designed for the living room, said Paul Otellini, Intel's president and chief operating officer, at the Consumer Electronics Show Thursday.

Otellini shed light on Intel's plans to enter the digital television market later this year, reports of which surfaced last month. Intel will manufacture a line of LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) chips codenamed Cayley that will find their way into rear-projection televisions by the end of this year, Otellini said.

The company hopes its chips will allow television vendors to sell thinner and cheaper rear-projection televisions, reducing the cost of a single television by moving much of its electronic complexity into silicon. Otellini demonstrated a digital television that used a LCOS chip developed on an older generation of Intel's process technologies.

Texas Instruments Inc. currently dominates the market for rear-projection digital televisions with its DLP (digital light projection) technology, but LCOS will produce sharper images at a lower price, according to Otellini. By 2005, consumers will be able to purchase a 50-inch LCOS television with Cayley chips for under US$1,800, he said.

Intel, in Santa Clara, California, also hopes to popularize a new PC design it is calling the entertainment PC. Last month, Gateway Inc. released an early version of the concept, which calls for a PC that looks like a component from a traditional home entertainment center.

Intel incorporated some of the technologies that it has discussed over the past year into its entertainment PC reference design, including Azalia, a next-generation audio standard for PCs, and Grantsdale, a forthcoming chipset that will allow desktop PCs to become wireless access points.

The company also showed a number of portable media players using its XScale chips. The XScale chips, which are normally found in personal digital assistants, will allow device manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Creative Labs Inc., and iRiver America Inc. to build portable media players that can handle video as well as audio, Otellini said.

In order to realize the vision of a connected home, Intel and other industry groups will have to work together with the entertainment industry to develop ways to protect content from piracy, but still allow consumers to share files around their home networks that they have legally acquired, Otellini said.

Otellini welcomed actor Morgan Freeman on stage to discuss the cooperation that Intel and Freeman's studio, Revelations Entertainment LLC, have undertaken. Freeman took the occasion to announce that his studio will release a move in 2005 that will be available over the Internet the same day it is released in movie theaters.

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