Intel who in partnership with Microsoft have been accused of crashing PCs and servers for years are now trying to muscle in on the TV, Blu ray and PVR market as demand for consumer electronics outstrips PCS.
The only problem is that the consumer electronics Companies from the Sony’s to the Samsung to the LG’s and Panasonic have openly said that they are not interested in Intel technology unless there is a real benefit.
There is no doubt that the humble TV is set to be a key part of the home, from being able being able to watch TV programmes, to movies to sport, to being able to access the Internet and IP based content services and there is no doubt that a strong performing processor is key. But will it be Intel.
Remember Companies like Toshiba and Samsung already have their own processor manufacturing and storage operations and Companies like LG and Samsung have been buying millions of processors from the likes of Broadcom and Qualcomm for years to go into their mobile phones.
However the TV is set to change and Intel wants a share of the action.
The new TV’s will have storage and lots of it and what is being done right now by a personal video recorder will be built into the TV as standard allowing consumers to store content, fast forward commercials and access content from a multitude of locations.
It will also have wireless connectivity and a new generation of low power display options, which will be controlled by a processor which is the market that Intel is trying to hustle into.
The experts are questioning as to whether an open market for services can evolve around a TV display screen? Colin Dixon, a senior partner with the Diffusion Group has long argued that, though there are some real problems that must be addressed, taking an open approach to Internet video delivery will dominate.
He claims that at the recent Intel’s Developer Forum, Intel announced that it was bringing its considerable weight to bear on the topic of delivering video content to a TV in an open environment.
Eric Kim, SVP and General Manager of the Intel’s Digital Home Group, said he believes that the Internet and television will become deeply integrated. In support of this statement, Kim announced (1) a new, more powerful Intel processor for set-top boxes, (2) deeper integration of Adobe Flash 10 on STBs, and (3) advanced support for PC games on the TV. “Taken together, these innovations are a powerful endorsement for the open Internet economy he” said.
The Adobe announcement means that Intel will support the full version of Adobe Flash 10 on its CE line of processors, an important development for open Internet access to the television. Because Flash is the platform of choice for multimedia application developers, bringing this environment to the television allows these companies to target the most relevant screen in the home – the living room TV.
It also allows many existing applications to run unmodified on the TV. Perhaps more significantly, support for Flash also means support for Flash video. Since the majority of web video today is provided in Flash, many video sites will be able to deliver directly to the TV without re-encoding their content.
One of the biggest barriers to supporting Flash on STBs has been processing power. Simply put, Flash support overwhelms many of the current generation of STB processors. Enter Intel. The new Atom processor CE 4100, the successor to the CE3100, draws on both the netbook heritage of the Atom and the CE pedigree of the 3100. The benefits of having “Intel inside” CE platforms becomes all the more clear, just as Apple found out when it switched to Intel processors back in 2005. The same benefits should accrue to the STBs using the CE4100. Much of the work done in support of the PC should now be portable to any Intel-powered CE device.
But there is one fly in the ointment. Intel’s CE processor line uses Linux as its operating system. Does not that mean that PC games using DirectX can no longer be used?
Not according to TransGaming. This small Canadian company specialises in bringing unmodified PC games to both Mac and Linux operating systems. Now it is doing the same for Intel’s CE4100. The company has written software that maps DirectX calls to OpenGL so that PC games can run in Linux-based Intel CE SoC environments. It also has plans to bring its GameTree gaming service to CE4100-powered devices. Since GameTree is cloud-based, it is uniquely suited to the modern (often diskless) CE environment.
With Intel now publicly supporting an open market for Internet TV services, the momentum is shifting. Delivering a new, beefier CE processor means STB manufacturers can now deliver products with the speed necessary to run today’s Internet applications on the television.
The port of Flash 10 to the CE4100 software stack at last unchains the creative talent of an army web developers and a sea of web video, all of which can now be delivered to the television.
The port of DirectX to OpenGL by TransGaming allows companies deploying Intel-based STBs to easily add professional-grade gaming services to the mix.
The announcements by Intel and RCDb/Videon illustrate clearly how the open market for services at the TV is finally coming in to focus.
So expect many such announcements in coming weeks and months.