RealTime IT News

Otellini Touts Next-Gen Notebooks, Home Theater

LAS VEGAS -- Intel demonstrated three new brands for the notebook and home theater PC markets.

Speaking at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show here, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini formally unveiled the Core Duo brand -- a marketing moniker designed to promote the dual-core nature of its newest line of processors. The brand launch marks the debut of Intel's first new premium brand since the world's largest chipmaker unveiled Pentium in 1993.

Otellini also announced the much-anticipated, dual-core successor to the company's popular Centrino technology. Dubbed Centrino Duo -- after the improved-performance dual-core processor at the heart of the technology -- the brand is aimed squarely at consumers who routinely perform "multimedia multitasking" on their machines, like ripping CDs while watching video and downloading photos.

Intel's recently-unveiled VIIV platform also received a lengthy demo at the show, with Otellini and other Intel spokespeople describing VIIV's capabilities and content partnerships.

Like Centrino, VIIV is a marketing term describing a number of interrelated PC components that deliver, in Otellini's words, a "digital entertainment experience." In this case, VIIV functions more like an approval seal, however, signifying to consumers that dual-core PCs and components are capable of working together to deliver special features.

Those VIIV features include the ability to send videos and other media to other VIIV-compatible televisions and PCs throughout the home. It also enables users to download premium content from a roster of partners, including new additions America Online, NBC, Mexico's Grupo Televisa, Bollywood distributor Eros, and Shanghai Media Group.

The introduction of the three brands comes at a time when Otellini said consumers are have reached a point of high expectation from PC technology. In mobility, for instance, consumer awareness of WiFi drove the sale of more than 30 million Centrino-powered notebooks during the past 12 months, he said. But users seek ever-advancing capabilities, and the same level of simplicity they see in consumer electronics devices.

"We expect a WiFi connection in that coffee shop, and we are disappointed when we don't get it," he said.

To offer consumers new capabilities, Otellini said Intel turned to dual-core chips -- which promise increased performance along with better energy efficiency.

"We are all multitasking creatures," he said. "This demands more and more performance. But we want things to become more and more mobile; this demands lower and lower power."

Intel isn't the first to market dual-core processors. But Otellini highlighted Intel's past successes in driving consumer adoption: "With Centrino, we made wireless capabilities a mainstream technology," he said. The suggestion thus being that Centrino Duo and VIIV would both ascend to similar levels of popularity, while simultaneously popularizing the new capabilities offered by the platforms.

Centrino Duo, for instance, "is 88 percent faster ... offers an extra hour of battery life, and [with it] WiFi gets better," Otellini said. "It delivers more performance and consumes less power. This will enable new forms of mobile entertainment."

Otellini is already banking on the success of the Centrino Duo and the desktop Core Duo CPU. While it took a year for consumers to purchase a million PCs that used Pentium processors, Otellini said Intel expects the millionth Core Duo chip to ship in a PC within three weeks.

With regard to VIIV, Otellini has similar hopes. During his keynote, he introduced a number of new Intel partners to the stage; among them DirectTV, which worked with the chipmaker to develop technology enabling VIIV PC users to record high-definition satellite signals, and stream those to other devices within the home.

As is typical for big-name CES events, a slew of Hollywood celebrities joined Otellini on stage to promote Intel's partnership with ClickStar, a company it spun off last year to pursue the digital, in-home distribution of Hollywood content. Tom Hanks, Danny DeVito, and Morgan Freeman appeared briefly to ham it up while touting the service. Freeman and director Brad Silberling, also on stage, announced that the upcoming film "Ten Items or Less" would debut simultaneously in theaters and through ClickStar to VIIV-enabled PCs.

The entire process of watching film premiers, recording video, and sending video to other devices in the home remains rights-managed, Otellini said. It also, ideally, will be user-friendly. Indeed, Intel's demonstration VIIV machines all relied on Microsoft's Windows Media Center operating system, widely recognized for its fairly simple user interface.

"We made the PC much more CE-like," he said. "It's a new experience in the home, and it puts the consumer in control."