Intel Adds AOL, DirectTV, and NBC to Viiv Entertainment Strategy

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LAS VEGAS -- As expected, Intel unveiled the two newest planks of its strategy for consumer PCs at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show. But the company also announced partnerships with content providers such as America Online, the DirecTV Group, and General Electric's NBC television network that will give users of those new PCs an opportunity to start watching content on their systems.

Intel president and chief executive officer Paul Otellini used his afternoon keynote slot at CES Thursday to formally unveil notebooks based on the Centrino Duo--formerly known as Napa--and Viiv home entertainment PCs. Intel has been talking about its latest notebook technology for over a year, and Viiv made its debut appearance at the Fall Intel Developer Forum last August.

Yonah Is Core Duo

All that was left to reveal were the names of the chips that make up the Centrino Duo package. Yonah, the former code name for Intel's first dual-core version of the Pentium M processor, is now known as Core Duo. This chip will provide the basis for all of Intel's processors starting later this year when the company introduces new chips based on the low-speed but high-performance design principles used to create the Pentium M.

"The Core Duo is our first new premium brand since Pentium," Otellini said. It will be used in desktops, notebooks, and eventually handheld devices, he said. As with the earlier versions of Centrino, the Centrino Duo package will feature a Core Duo, a mobile-optimized chip set, and upgraded wireless.

As would be expected, just about every major PC vendor, including Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo Group, Samsung, Sony, and a host of others plan to have Centrino Duo notebooks available shortly.

In another nod to the Centrino strategy, PC makers will be able to take advantage of Intel marketing efforts behind the Viiv brand if they purchase a package of Intel silicon. This includes a dual-core processor, a chip set, and a networking chip, as well as software that allows users to share content around their home networks.

Viiv Content Partners

Until this announcement, what had been missing from the Viiv hype was the presence of major content providers on the level of satellite television provider DirecTV and NBC. Intel and DirecTV plan to develop sometime in 2006 a set-top box based on Viiv technology that can receive content from DirecTV's satellites, said Chase Carey, president and chief executive officer of DirecTV, who joined Otellini on stage along with Jonathan Miller, chairman and CEO of AOL. AOL's thousands of music videos, vintage television shows, and sports highlights will also be available to users who buy Viiv PCs, he said.

NBC plans to make video clips of the upcoming Olympic Games in Turino, Italy, available to Viiv users through an NBC Web site, said Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC's Universal Television Group, in a video shown during Otellini's speech.

These partners will make their content available through an interface, available on the startup screen of Viiv PCs, jointly developed by Intel and Microsoft, said Don McDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel's digital home group.

Intel's vision of the digital home has taken several twists and turns since Otellini first unveiled the concept of the entertainment PC at the 2004 CES. But the concept is finally coming together with powerful new chips and alliances with global content companies, he said.

"A test of good technology is once you use it, you can't go back," Otellini said. Viiv PCs will start to appear on store shelves and on Web sites over the next few days.

For more CES coverage, head to PC World's CES Info Center.

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