RealTime IT News

Intel Puts More Stock in the Digital Home

Intel continued its quest to build what it calls the "Digital Home" with another round of major capital investments.

The chipmaking giant announced Monday that it has parceled out some of its $200 million in venture funding between five companies to support technology that lets people edit, manage and access content between PCs and other consumer electronics devices, including TVs, video recorders, stereos, and handheld over a wireless home network.

Intel did not disclose specific breakdowns of the payout, which is part of its Intel Digital Home Fund. Since its inception in January 2004, the division has handed out checks to companies in their series B and C rounds of funding that make products that align with Intel's vision.

This round of recipients includes: CableMatrix, Mediabolic, Pure Networks, BridgeCo and Envivio.

"Barriers, such as interoperability and ease of use, must be overcome to accelerate digital home technology adoption," Scott Darling, Intel Capital vice president, said in a statement. "We're investing in these five companies to help solve these technical issues, making it simpler and more enjoyable for people to connect their consumer electronics and computing devices and share content around their homes."

Intel said its investment in CableMatrix, based in Atlanta and Jerusalem, will help develop that company's On Demand Service Platform (ODSP) software based on the CableLabs PacketCable Multimedia standard.

San Francisco-based Mediabolic has a software platform that allows traditional categories of consumer electronics products, such as DVD players and PCs, as well as digital media servers, recorders and adaptors, to share music, photos and other media types.

Pure Networks, out of Seattle, makes consumer software and services to tie together a wide range of routers, gateways, networked devices and PCs with multiple operating systems

BridgeCo, based in Zurich, Switzerland, designs integrated chips and software that wirelessly link PCs to consumer electronics devices, so consumers can enjoy digital content anywhere in the home. Intel Capital first invested in BridgeCo in 2002.

Finally, Intel is investing in Envivio for the second time since 2002. Based in San Francisco, the company develops Moving Picture Experts Group Layer 4 (MPEG-4) and Advanced Video Coding H.264 software compression products.

The top chipmaker has been devoting time and money to beef up its presence in the consumer device space. Last month, Intel announced its collaboration with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) on a spec to connect entertainment PCs via Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocols (or DTCP/IP for short). The technology allows customers to distribute content over a number of devices. Intel said it is expecting the first products with DTCP/IP support to ship in the second half of 2004.

In the last six months, Intel has unveiled platform designs for "Florence," the new category of entertainment PCs expected to be available from OEM suppliers sometime soon. In April, Intel and Movielink announced plans to bring first-run movies to home computers and mobile PCs. Intel also teamed up with Dolby Laboratories with plans to bring consumer electronics-quality audio based on Intel High Definition Audio to PCs.

In a related announcement, Intel today introduced its Intel E7221 chipset (codenamed Copper River), which includes PCI Express interconnect technology and faster DDR2-533 memory, to single-processor servers.

Based on the previously introduced Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT Technology, the 3.60 GHz chip adds Intel Hyper-Threading technology, Intel Extended Memory 64 technology and SSE3 technology. The chipset includes PCI Express to deliver up to 4 GB/second throughput on an x8 interface. The company said the dual-channel DDR2-533 memory delivers up to 8.5 GB/second bandwidth, providing up to a 60 percent increase over DDR333 with reduced power consumption. The chipset is available today and costs $52 in bulk purchase quantities of 1,000.