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Intel Inside The Home: Exec Presents Chip Maker's Digital Home Strategy

With its eyes on a digital home market, Intel and its partners are set to release a series of technologies and products aimed at enhancing digital, video, audio and graphics capabilities in networked homes.

In a keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum, Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's desktop platform group, said the segment is becoming ripe for extensive growth and change as technology platforms and standards become public.

"Homes are really the center of our lives around the world," Burns said. "That's our place we go to spend time with our families, our friends, to be entertained." It's also a quick-growing space, Burns noted, pointing out that $214 billion was spent on home improvements in the United States last year.

To dive into the digital home space, Intel unveiled what it is calling a new platform standard, Balance Technology Extended (BTX), which includes a motherboard specification designed to improve performance on digital media including photos, video and music. Burns demonstrated a digital multimedia PC based on BTX technology, formerly code-named "Bit Water," showing streamlined video editing and audio management functions.

In addition, Burns announced that within 60 days, Intel would begin shipping a gaming- and PC enthusiast-specific processor, the Pentium 4 HT Extreme Edition, which will be optimized for high-performance graphics used in state-of-the art, 3D gaming applications.

During his speech, Burns presented a video announcement from Scott Smyers, chairman of the Digital Home Working Group, a 17-company collaborative. Smyers said the working group intends to finish a set of guidelines for network-based multimedia devices by the end of this year, and publish those guidelines in the first half of next year.

With that in mind, Smyers said, he expected the first set of technology products based on those standards specifications will ship in the second half of 2004, including "content servers" that will provide management of digital still images, home movies and other home content.

Among other parts of his keynote, Burns demonstrated an LCD Media Center PC by Gateway, San Diego, which will be available within 30 days, he said. The system runs the Microsoft Media Center PC, providing on-demand video capability. Gateway executives, for their part, said as recently as last week that they intend to develop a solution provider channel to help integrate those LCD-TVs into larger solutions--including commercial spaces--as part of their digital display strategy. Further information on the Gateway LCD-TV was not immediately available.

"We're making great progress," Burns said. "Standards are in place to make this happen. As those standards get pushed into products and those products are moved into the marketplace, it moves into reality. It has to be easy, it has to be connected and it has to be a great experience."

Digital convergence in the home, as well as wireless connectivity, are the two primary themes of the Intel Developer Forum, Intel's twice-a-year conference to update developers and OEMs on its technology and product roadmap. The three-day conference at the San Jose Convention Center this week will host 4,500 attendees, executives of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said.

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