RealTime IT News

Home Sweet 'Pentium Extreme' Home

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In the 1970s and early 80s, "The Jetsons" depicted life in the future as a world in which computers and other digital devices worked together to improve quality of life for the people who owned them.

While this fantasy hasn't been realized yet, a home that runs on predominantly digital devices certainly is a lot closer to reality than it's ever been, thanks to companies such as Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel .

This was the message at the Intel Developer Forum Tuesday afternoon as Louis Burns, vice president and co-general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, touted the future of the digital home to a crowd of about 3,000. In the event's first-ever afternoon keynote address, Burns also previewed innovative new products, product designs and technologies -- among them the brand-new Intel Pentium 4 processor Extreme Edition 3.20 gigahertz (GHz), supporting Hyper-Threading technology.

"Homes are the center of our lives, and are the places we go to create memories and recreate them with digital technology," Burns said. "We're starting to see great strides and great products in the marketplace. This, however, is only the beginning."

According to Burns, the high-tech industry has made significant progress since last year's fall IDF on developing industry guidelines for distributing digital media in the home, and revolutionary change is imminent. In order for this change to happen, the next steps are to enable the availability of premium content on the home network, and to present consumers access to the types of compelling content they want to enjoy.

"It has to be easy, has to be connected, and has to be a great experience for consumers," he said.

As such, Burns spent most of his speech showing off new and innovative products designed to provide consumers with the positive experience he has in mind. First, he unveiled the Intel 815 Digital Set Top Box reference design, a tool that provides customers with a low-cost solution to obtain video-on-demand over a broadband connection. This technology, which will be available from Wyse Technology sometime next year, can be utilized for applications such as networked digital media recorders and personal video recorders, and allows service providers to add optional services as they enter market segments over time.

Next, Burns unveiled the LCD Media Center, a soon-to-be-released product from Gateway that will serve as an all-in-one digital entertainment device, enabling consumers to record their favorite TV show in the background while playing a 3-D game. The product is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT technology, an innovation that allows consumers to simultaneously run multiple programs more smoothly and efficiently.

Burns also showed the audience a variety of next-generation Digital Media Adapters (DMAs), devices that wirelessly transfer personal digital video, photos, and music from a PC to a TV and a stereo. Some of these devices included I-Cube's Play@TV, Lenovo's Media Link, and the ShowCenter device from Pinnacle . "These products will turn the home into an on-demand entertainment center," he said. "Consumers will be able to watch what they want, when they want it, wherever in the house they'd like to watch."

According to Burns, other Intel product designs and innovations will help make products in the digital home easy and fun to use:

  • The Pentium 4 processor Extreme Edition 3.20 gigahertz (GHz) supporting Hyper-Threading technology, a processor with an additional two megabytes of cache to maximize speed for high-end gamers and computing power users.
  • PCI Express x16 graphics, the next generation I/O standard that will be available in solutions from graphics vendors in 2004.
  • The Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) form factor specification, which enables the next generation in PC system design and is expected to supercede the ATX family of motherboard form factors down the road.
  • Resilient power supply technology, which soon will provide consumers to power their computers on or off instantaneously, providing additional safeguards to recover data if the PC loses power unexpectedly.

Of course the digital home couldn't ever become a reality without the ability to share protected content between devices. Burns acknowledged this point explicitly, stating that little progress will be made without industry-wide acceptance of Digital Transmission Content Protection over the Internet Protocol (DTCP/IP), a content management technology co-developed by Intel, Hitachi , Toshiba, Sony , and Matsushita . In emphasizing this new protocol, Burns echoed sentiments aired earlier in the day by Paul Otellini, Intel's President and COO.

"In the digital home, protection between devices is a must," said Burns in conclusion. "When we discover this, consumers will reward us with purchases."