Intel to Buy Digital Display Technology

Intel is returning to the digital display world
with an agreement to purchase Oplus Technologies.

Oplus, out of Yokneam, Israel, is a privately held fabless
semiconductor company that makes chips and related software for flat-panel plasma and LCD-TVs, projection systems, LCD multi-function
monitors and emerging digital display applications.

The company, which has approximately 100 employees, will continue
selling products under the Oplus brand name and will report to the
Intel Consumer Electronics Group. Terms of the agreement were not
disclosed.

Pending regulatory approval, the purchase helps replace Intel’s
failed attempts at introducing its liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) technology — a
type of LCD in which the crystals and electrodes are
sandwiched between polarized glass plates. Intel spokesman Bill Calder
characterized LCoS as too expensive to produce and focused on too narrow
of a product line, namely rear-projection televisions.

“What Oplus does is the intelligence within the image and the
enhancement of the image in all types of displays. So this is a broader
market opportunity,” Calder told internetnews.com. “The other
benefit is that they also work in standards-based silicon, which is
closer to our core business than LCoS.”

Best known for dominance in computers and servers, Intel has been
working steadily on its
digital home initiative, where it can advance
its technology for a converged world of computers and displays. Intel
said it will use Oplus’ technology to provide chips for a wide range of
consumer electronics devices, including set-top-boxes, digital media
recorders and digital televisions. The technology will compete directly
with similar ones from NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics, Samsung and Sony.

Calder said Oplus’ technology would not replace any graphics
processors in PCs or servers, but it will let Intel talk more with
digital television manufacturers.

“Forget the PC; there is convergence happening in a number of devices,
and at the core of all of it is silicon,” Calder said. “As they are
networked, it is no longer about projecting the image. Eventually
televisions will have network connectivity, and that is where we will
have a key advantage.

Oplus currently sells three lines of video processors — Rembrandt,
Matisse, Monet — targeted at digital display manufacturers and other
partners like STMicroelectronics, ViewSonic, JVC, and BenQ. Calder said
Intel would continue those contracts and approach even more of the
market. Oplus also has three design centers in Osaka, Japan,
Hsinchu, Taiwan, and State College, Penn., which Intel is expected
to continue to support.

Intel is expected to discuss the Oplus acquisition further at the
Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco next week.

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