Intel Declares ‘Viiv’ Digital Media Initiative

In a move to capitalize on opportunities and challenges in the emerging digital entertainment industry, Intel yesterday said it is developing a broad family of PC, consumer electronics and mobile platforms and technologies.

Dubbed Intel Viiv (rhymes with “five”), the technology is designed to enrich consumers’ enjoyment of digital entertainment. The company said PCs based on Intel Viiv technology will be available early next year.

The PCs will include a remote control and will be powered by a suite of Intel technologies, including a dual-core processor, chipset, platform software and wired networking capabilities.

“Intel Viiv technology is our first platform designed from the ground up for the digital home, where consumers are passionate about the idea of accessing their content anytime, anywhere in their home on a number of devices,” said Don MacDonald, vice president and general manager, Intel Digital Home Group.

Copying Centrino’s Success

MacDonald said that, following the success of Intel Centrino mobile technology, the company is applying a similar branding strategy to its new digital home platform composed of Intel’s latest PC technologies.

Just like the Centrino brand mandates the use of a Pentium M processor, a mobile chipset and Intel’s WiFi chips, PC vendors must use a dual-core Intel processor, chipset, a network controller and a software package from Microsoft in order to use the Viiv brand.

Mass Market Niche Chips

Phil Leigh, Inside Digital Media senior analyst, told TechNewsWorld that Viiv demonstrates Intel’s growing revelation that multi-purpose microprocessors can be used for specific applications.

“Viiv is a sensible product because as computers get more powerful we really don’t need them to do our word processing 100 times faster. We need them to do new things,” Leigh said. “Digital media is clearly the direction of the future.”

TV-Like Functions

Intel also integrated consumer electronic features into the Viiv technology platform to make it easier to use and contribute to the overall entertainment experience.

All PCs based on Intel Viiv technology will ship with the Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition operating system and media software that lets consumers interact with their PC in the same way they operate a TV.

Consumers will also be able to turn their PCs on and off with the touch of a button through a new platform feature called Intel Quick Resume Technology. Each Intel Viiv technology-based PC will also ship with 5.1 surround sound for home theater-quality sound.

With an optional TV tuner card, this same PC will be able to record, pause and rewind live TV programs, and store them on the hard drive for later viewing.

Advocating for Interoperability

Intel is advocating industry interoperability specifications for a variety of digital home technologies, from digital displays to wired and unwired technologies.

MacDonald said industry interoperability specifications are vital to ensuring digital content can get inside and move between devices in the home quickly and easily.

Analysts said interoperability will indeed be key — and there are two ways to achieve the goal. The first way is getting all parties to agree on a standard. The other way is for one company to become the dominant supplier.

“In the past, if Intel hasn’t been able to get formal agreements with everyone, it has tended to dominate the market and thereby become the standard,” Leigh said. “So far, Sony and Panasonic and RCA and others have not shown a lot of expertise in digital electronics. The best example is iPod taking the Walkman business from Sony.”

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