CES 2007: AMD Launches Home Cinema, Home Media Server Platforms

Launched at CES 2007 in Las Vegas, the AMD Live! Home Cinema and AMD Live! Home Media Server aim to bridge the gap between the television and the PC and introduce a more comfortable form factor for the living room or bedroom, said Aaron Feen, director of consumer marketing at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD. The two new platforms are slated to be included in OEM offerings in the first half of this year.

Also at CES, AMD took the wraps off an AMD Live! notebook PC platform that's designed to make it easier for OEMs and system makers to build consumer laptops. AMD Live! notebooks will be available later this month in Europe from ASUS, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and MSI, AMD said.

AMD Live! Home Cinema set-top box concept design

The AMD Live! Home Cinema is a set-top box with PC technology that's intended to serve as a "perfect mate" to a flat-panel TV and a DVD player, according to AMD. The company collaborated with the cable TV industry to ensure that the device can access premium content, enabling users to have a fully functional DVD recorder and the ability to record high-definition HBO and other TV programming while also surfing the Web.

In addition, AMD said it has struck a deal with a small audio company to develop a compact, high-quality audio system that supports 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.

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At CES, AMD plans to demonstrate the AMD Live! Home Media Server platform, which is based on Microsoft's new Windows Vista Home Server but can use other operating systems, AMD said. The consumer electronics device is a stand-alone box that can interoperate with PCs seamlessly in the home, the company said.

The first units are due to ship in the first quarter and be priced at $1,000 to $3,000, AMD said. "We'll ride the economies of scale of the PC industry because it is a PC. But it runs a consumer electronics version of Windows, and that will drive down the price," Feen said. "It's a great play for digital integrators."

AMD also aims to address another problem consumers face as their digital photos, videos and music files pile up on their PCs and take up more and more hard-disk space -- a trend exacerbated by movie downloads and the rising use of digital camcorders, the company said. At CES, AMD is launching its AMD Live! Home Media Center, a backup solution that allows consumers to easily store, back up and manage their digital content and helps them build media libraries. It will be demonstrated with Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

AMD said the intent of the reference designs is to resolve some of the nightmares that system builders, solution providers and customers have faced in trying to integrate a myriad of consumer electronics with PCs.

"We see that one of the biggest problems consumers have is bringing it all together," Feen said. "By providing the reference design, software and applications, it will be easier to set something up to connect two devices together. What we see is consumer wants to do this, and when they can't it's slowing adoption. You'll see this as a turning point where we overcome some of these hurdles."

The goal is to be "the best 2-foot friend to the 10-foot friend," he added, referring to the proximity of user to the PC screen and TV screens, respectively.

However, at least one digital integrator said it might be difficult for AMD to sell the reference designs.

"AMD is trailing Intel in the digital home space. Consumers will feel that AMD is copying Intel, even though this is hardly the case and AMD has great technology," said Frank DeFilipis, vice president of business development at Link Your House, Atlanta.

"As for the set-top box, I predict slow sales," DeFilipis added. "I would need to see AMD's box work well with DLNA equipment before I would consider using it. I'm sticking with Intel for my projects for now."