IDF, San Francisco – Taking its first major steps into consumer electronics (CE), Intel today announced its first purpose-built Intel Architecture (IA) System-on-chip for CE and plans for the Widget Channel – a collaboration with Yahoo to bring the Internet to television.
Eric Kim, senior vice-president and GM of the Digital Home Group at Intel, says that CE is one of the four "mega areas" beyond the PC that the company is targeting, the other three sectors being netbooks, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and embedded technologies.
And proof of this focus lies in the launch today of the Media Processor CE 3100, the first in a new family of purpose-built System on Chips (SoCs) for consumer electronic devices.
"Today is the first time that we announce this," says Kim. "And by September [these processors] will be in high production."
On the collaboration over the Widget Channel with Yahoo, Kim says that the timing could not be better.
"We think the time is now to bring the Internet to television," he says. "I know people have heard this for over a decade, but now the consumer is ready and the industry is ready. The time is now to bring full Internet to the TV.
"The Internet is changing the game," Kim says. "Not only in terms of devices, but the whole service model, ecosystem and whole industry. One of the biggest challenges in television Internet integration is that the platform which is used is predominantly optimised for playback. Video and audio wasn't capable of keeping up. But the Internet has been like a whirlwind, the speed at which technology comes out – it's so quick and it is embraced by milions.
"The only thing to keep up with [this pace] is the PC," he adds. "And the PC is built on Intel.
"We now want to bring that foundation to the consumer electronics industry for the first time," Kim says. "Overall, we think the Intel Architecture makes a difference in consumer electronics. That industry is shifting from playback only to a full, rich Internet experience and to do this, you need a consistent foundation. And that's what we provide. Our new platform is one that cuts across devices and service delivery so that users benefit by essentially doing what they want to do no matter which device they're using."
Kim says that in creating a CE ecosystem, Intel is being joined by TV service providers such as Comcast; by content providers like Disney and NBC; OEMs Toshiba, Sony and Samsung; and advertisers like Adobe.
"We are working with a number of parties across the ecosystem and coming up with a new paradigm," Kim says.
Obviously, the tie-up with Yahoo is but one step on a long journey.