Intel Still Trying to Put Smarts Into the Boob Tube
By Don Clark
Silicon Valley has been talking for 15 years or so about marrying TV and the Internet. For the most part, it’s still just talk; most people still use their PCs when they want interactivity, and rely on their TVs when they want to be passive content-watchers.
But Intel is not giving up. The chip giant, having run along with partners down most of the blind alleys of interactive television, gave an update this week about a reformulated TV strategy that might be paraphrased as follows: it’s the software, stupid.
In other words, people don’t want to visit Web sites or engage in other PC-like activities while relaxing in front of their big-screen TV. They want new experiences that exploit the combined possibilities of TV, the Internet and computers. That means Intel needs to get lots of smart programmers to write new applications that make TVs more fun and useful.
Eric Kim, senior vice president and general manager, Intel’s digital home group, compares today’s situation in TVs to smartphones before Apple and its iPhone App Store showed the market what was possible. “With iPhone everything changed,” he says, in an interview following his keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco Thursday. “We think a similar thing could happen on TVs.”
A year ago at the same event, Kim put a lot of the emphasis on “widgets,” simple programs that appear on TV screens and exploit a format developed in an alliance with Yahoo. This year, he stressed that widgets are helpful but not sufficient; programmers need a more powerful development environment that they understand already.
The best candidate, Kim suggested, is Adobe Systems’ Flash format, which is already used to bring animations and video to Web sites. And not some stripped-down version of the technology, either, but technology that is capable of playing games and other sophisticated content. So Intel and Adobe announced plans to adapt its Flash Player 10 technology to consumer-electronics devices by the first half of 2010.
Flash 10 requires computing power and, not surprisingly, Intel wants to help with that. On Thursday it announced a new system-on-a-chip for TVs, set-top boxes and other devices based around its popular Atom microprocessor, a successor to a similar chip Kim introduced a year ago.
Among the other developments at the show, Kim predicted that simple PC games will soon arrive on such consumer-electronics devices without the need for a computer or gaming console. A Toronto-based company, TransGaming, announced a game-delivery service called GameTree.tv that plans to offer a library of games and help software companies adapt those products to run on devices powered by Intel chips. (Most PC games are designed to exploit the Microsoft’s Windows operating system and its graphics technology, DirectX; TransGaming helps adapt those games to work on the Linux operating system and a graphics technology called OpenGL).
Kim was followed in talking about the future of TV by Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer. He supplied some examples of what smarter TVs and associated software could do for users. Navigating among many more entertainment options will be one of the biggest challenges; one piece of technology that Rattner showed automatically called up his list of previously chosen programming choices by identifying his face when he walked up to the TV. Another possibility is to call up likely choices of Web sites or TV programs based on sites a user recently visited on their smartphone or laptop, he said.
One of the most impressive demonstrations came from 3ality Digital, a Burbank, Calif., company that has been involved with events such as live 3D broadcasts of football games. After the IDF audience put on a special set of dark glasses, Rattner spoke with a larger-than-life 3-D rendering of Howard Postley, 3ality Digital’s chief technology officer. An odd sensation–akin to a human interacting with a hologram.
- 工商時報 2009-09-26
英特爾24日在英特爾開發者論壇（IDF）中，宣佈推出內建Atom核心的媒體處理器系統單晶片CE4100，打開進軍數位電視市場大門，英特爾也將整 合資源，推動Light Peak的光纖傳輸解決方案，成為數位電視傳輸主流規格。英特爾技術長賈斯汀（Justin Rattner）表示，預估2015年全球將有150億個可看電視的消費性電子產品終端，這將是個具龐大成長空間的新市場。
當然，英特爾此刻重新回到數位電視市場，正是看準了全球各國已經陸續開播數位電視訊號，今年起也將開始收回類比訊號頻譜、停播類比訊號。 既然電視走上了數位化，代表電視市場不在只是單向的傳播，賈斯汀指出，喊了多年的互動電視將成為未來主流，2015年全球將有150億個消費性電子產品終 端，可以收看數十億小時的電視節目，這是個十分驚人的龐大市場。
英特爾不僅推出媒體處理器CE4100，也決定推動Light Peak光纖傳輸解決方案，成為數位電視市場標準規格。賈斯汀表示，Light Peak將具備標準型接口，只需要一條光纜，就可將家中所有電子產品資料串聯起來，如將Netbook的電視訊號利用Light Peak接上電視，不僅可以看電視節目，也會具有很強的互動性。
英特爾要做大數位電視的市場大餅，其他晶片供應商當然是有福同享。如目前數位機上盒內建晶片，包括揚智、聯詠、聯陽等國內供應商，及智 原、創意等設計服務業者，均已受惠於數位電視訊號陸續開播，晶片出貨屢創新高。法人預估，未來英特爾勢必會投入更多資源，力拱數位電視市場，揚智、聯陽等 相關晶片廠將直接受惠。