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Next Up, Intel Inside Your TV

Intel is moving forward with its ambitious plan to spread the Intel Architecture (IA) to places it's never been. At this week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF), for example, the chip giant announced plans to put Intel inside your TV.

Eric Kim, senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Home group, announced during yesterday's keynote, the Intel Media Processor CE 3100, the first System on a Chip (SoC) Intel's specifically built for consumer electronics devices, in particular high definition televisions.

Kim noted that prior efforts to bring the Internet to televisions always involved a browser, evoking memories of Web TV, the set top box and keyboard that provided Internet access through the television, but had an extremely primitive interface that was not particularly well received.

The CE 3100 would allow for a direct pipeline of content, no browser needed, such as high-definition video, home-theater quality audio and advanced graphics, plus all the benefits of Internet connectivity. Kim said it could go into a set-top device, television or any connected device, like a DVD player.

The tiny chip, smaller than a penny, contains a three-channel DDR2 memory controller, dedicated multi-channel dual audio DSPs , a 3D graphics engine and support for multiple peripherals, including USB 2.0 and PCI-Express, plus support for high definition video codecs like MPEG-2, H.264 or VC-1.

Yahoo on board

Intel isn't going alone with the CE 3100. Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) announced it will make a framework, called the Widget Channel, available for TV's with the CE 3100. Similar to Yahoo's Widgets for Windows desktops, it will allow you to put different content widgets on your TV for quick access to information, like news and weather.

The Widget Channel will use the same Yahoo Widget Engine, also known as Konfabulator, to run the software on your TV. Widgets written for PCs will apparently work with the TV version of the software. Among the widgets is the Sidebar, which docks to the right side of the screen, just like the Vista desktop.

There will also be a Blockbuster widget, letting people view high definition movie trailers before they go out to rent movies, one for Yahoo's Flickr photo hosting site, and one for Twitter, the popular networking application.

To support this new embedded processor, Intel also announced the formation of The Intel Consumer Electronics Network, which will support developers of content for Internet-connected CE device.

Intel plans to ship the Media Processor CE 3100 to consumer electronics manufacturers beginning next month. It has already lined up TV makers Samsung Electronics and Toshiba as customers.