Intel’s TV Everywhere Push: One New Chip, Many Partners

Intel today at its developer conference in San Francisco said it’s committed to the future of entertainment — a different kind of “TV Everywhere” than the one we talk about when we’re referring to Time Warner and the rest authenticating subscribers online. The chipmaker released a new system-on-a-chip for IP set-top boxes, Blu-ray and connected TVs called Intel Atom Processor CE4100 that upgrades video play, and also showed off a variety of interfaces and applications enabled by adding more compute power to consumer entertainment gadgets.

Intel’s execs demoed and described a future of television that’s informative, ubiquitous, personal and social. “TV isn’t TV anymore,” said Justin Rattner, director of Intel Labs and CTO. “It’s out of the box, it’s off the wall, and it’s not going back anytime soon. TV will be everywhere.”

Intel is facing an uphill battle to get included in living room boxes, but it’s trying to wedge its way in through agreements with partners and developers. Intel Digital Home Group GM Eric Kim talked up the company’s commitment to Flash as a development platform. It’s notable that the long-gestating Intel-Yahoo widget platform seems to have fallen by the wayside. “Widgets were last year,” said Kim. “Now we need full Internet development framework for television.”

Intel’s TV presentations — which had all sorts of guest appearances from partners like Cisco, customers like CBS and the BBC iPlayer, startups like 100-inch laser 3-D TV maker HDI and 3ality Digital, and even avowed sci-fi geek LeVar Burton — did make evident tension between how much entertainment will be a specialized TV experience and how much it will be the same across various platforms like mobile, the PC and the movie theater. That’s in part because Intel won’t be making many of the decisions about specific devices and experiences — though its 2-hour-long demo of its vision of the future included context-relevant advertising, video chat, speech navigation, broadcast TV and UGC combined, integration with a user’s calendar and behavior, computer vision to analyze what’s going on in video, and in-home 3-D. It’s a long list.

As for the new chip? The 45 nm CE4100, an update to last year’s CE3100, replaces the Pentium core with an Atom core. It supports dual 1080p decode, high end audio, and now MPEG4. It has a doubled 2-D and 3-D graphics clock speed and integrated uncompressed 1080p a/v capture capability, and integrated NAND controller for faster boot times, and is backwards compatible in a number of ways. It’s also smaller.

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