AMD: 'Digital Living Room' To Take Many Forms

Speaking at the Digital Living Room 2006 summit here Tuesday (Dec. 4), Joe Menard, vice president of AMD's consumer business unit, said the concept the digital living room—the concept of a sophisticated in-home entertainment network—is likely to take many forms to suit various budgets, needs and degrees of technical savvy.

"There is going to be no one usage model," Menard said. "There will be models when PCs end up in the living room. There will be models where PCs do not end up in the living room."

For AMD, Menard said, this philosophy represents a change in thinking that evolved partly from the company's acquisition of ATI Technologies Inc., which, among other things, is a major supplier of chips for digital TVs.

"For AMD, the strategy used to be get a PC in the living room," Menard said. "Now it's to think about the best usage case that a customer wants and how we can provide silicon to do that."

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In fact, according to Menard, the digital living room may not look all that different than the average current U.S. living—with a souped-up TV and perhaps one peripheral device. "It's not a big deal to put a disk drive in a TV, or have a TV stream video to another TV in the house," Menard said. "A lot of consumers might want this model— There is one TV, one remote."

Menard described several other potential usage models, including a single peripheral device that might serve several purposes—functioning as a PC, DVD player, CD player, personal video recorder and other things. No matter what the usage model, the dream of a digital living room remains futuristic for most consumers, Menard said. Reaching the goal will require more content, better ease-of-use and more bandwidth, he said.

"If there is a big problem in the living room, it's because this stuff is not yet easy to use," Menard said. "And the only way to deal with that is working with suppliers to make it easier to use."

So which usage model will win the digital living room?

"I would not even try to speculate on which model is going to be the winner," Menard said. "We will support them all."