Intel Moves DRM Into Chips for PC Streaming

Intel (s INTC) is taking a massive step toward controlling the way viewers get their content online with the introduction of a new processor that moves graphic processing and content protection into the CPU, according to multiple reports. The chip maker is also planning to launch a new video service, called Intel Insider, that will allow viewers to wirelessly stream 1080p HD video directly to their TVs.

The new processor, codenamed Sandy Bridge, has already been shipped to PC manufacturers and represents a major change in the way that content is protected from piracy. Until now, most premium content providers relied on software-based solutions to keep users from copying videos streamed to PCs. But by moving its content protection into the processor, Intel can keep those streams safe with no need for additional software from vendors like Widevine, which recently agreed to be bought by Google. (s GOOG)

Intel’s creation of a processor with content protection built in also comes as the media and technology industries are seeking to create a standard that would enable consumers to buy a piece of content once and stream it on multiple devices. The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), of which Intel is a member, recently announced the introduction of its Ultraviolet digital rights locker, which is designed to make this a reality. Intel’s content protection initiatives could theoretically make the PC portion of delivery easier by introducing a chip-based solution.

That could mean more content becoming available online, and in better quality. Already, Intel has signed up Warner Bros. (s TWX) to make its movies available in 1080p HD online at the same time they are available on DVD, according to the Wall Street Journal (s nws), something the studio has resisted in the past. Sonic Solutions’ (s SNIC) RoxioNow will also reportedly take advantage of the chip, which could open up streaming for a number of digital storefronts; RoxioNow powers the digital video-on-demand platform for Best Buy, (s BBY) Sears, (s SHLD) Blockbuster and others.

Sandy Bridge also integrates Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which the chip maker has enhanced to also support 1080p video. With WiDi, Intel will enable users with supporting TVs and receivers to stream HD video wirelessly to them.

While enabling graphics computing and content protection in the CPU may sound like a step in the right direction for Intel, it’s been down this road before. The chip maker failed with its Viiv-branded media chip platform, and has had a difficult time getting its chips into connected devices.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Uwe Hermann.

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