AMD Goes ‘Live’ With Media PCs

Advanced Micro Devices officially launched its bid to get into the living room this week, touting technical capabilities and a team of supporting computer manufacturers as it rolled out its “Live” media PC platform.

Describing Live PC as a “full-featured, easy-to-use media center PC,” AMD said the computers would run Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors, and would be available to PC makers beginning next month. AMD also made its AMD Live Entertainment Suite, a package of software and services designed to enhance media PC performance, available right away.

Though there are some differences in its approach, AMD is trying to answer Intel’s Viiv platform push, which relies on similar technology to give the PC a place outside the office.

“In terms of media center capabilities, such as the ability to stream to remote media players, that is very similar between the two,” Insight64 Principal Analyst Nathan Brookwood told TechNewsWorld.

Platform Partners

AMD listed original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that will carry Live PCs beginning in June, including Acer, Alienware, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP and others.

AMD Vice President Bob Brewer said the Live technology is aimed at merging broadcast television content with interactive broadband applications and services.

Live will be more media friendly by storing consumers’ digital content in a central location and providing tools to allow access to the stored content using devices already in the home, AMD said.

Tools that compress, network, manage, backup and remotely control Live computers and their media content are among the Live features AMD highlighted.

Tools of the Trade

While AMD’s strategy is similar to Intel’s Viiv in that it involves branding and promoting a platform, the smaller chip company is taking a different approach, Endpoint Technologies Founder and President Roger Kay told TechNewsWorld.

“The idea that AMD is providing tools for OEMs and users is new and different, and will probably help them promote the platform,” Kay said.

Highlighting that AMD does not have the marketing budget to campaign as hard as Intel, Kay said the company was shrewdly taking advantage of its position.

“The way they view it, and correctly, is they really are taking advantage of Intel’s advertising,” he said. “Intel is promoting the concept. In some sense, [AMD] is doing a good job taking advantage of what Intel is doing.”

Market Push

The biggest difference in the two media PC approaches from AMD and Intel, which both have similar objectives, is focus, according to Brookwood.

He explained that Intel, with the help of Microsoft, is looking to put the PC front and center in the living room, while AMD is looking simply to carve out a place for the PC there.

“Intel wants to push the set-top box aside and take over,” he said. “AMD wants to sit beside or possibly inside the set-top box.”

The biggest hurdle for both companies in their media PC pursuits is pushing such a major change in the marketplace, where today most consumers are content with their existing living room media devices.

“For both Intel and AMD, the whole notion of getting PCs in the living room as full-fledged members or complements of devices is a challenge,” he said.

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