AMD Plan Unites Internet and TelevisionBy John G. Spooner | Posted 2006-01-04 Email Print
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AMD has a formula for making television more entertaining: add online content.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is about to go live with a plan to meld broadcast and Web content, which could make for more active television viewing.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker will unveil the plan, dubbed AMD Live, at this week's 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Under Live, AMD will work to help get broadband-connected PCs and televisions talking.
The company aims to make it possible for the couch potato to spice up a given program such as an auto race, accessed via a television by adding additional and more detailed Internet content from a PC.
The effort is important, AMD said, in that it could open the doors for new types of programming, but without necessarily requiring people to purchase special adapters, sometimes called set top boxes, which are often required now.
"What we're looking at is not how to displace existing devices such as set top boxes or how to get a PC into the living room," said Hal Speed, a marketing architect at AMD.
"The AMD vision is really that all of these devices are good at specific taskseach has value for consumers on its own meritsso how do we get them all working together in a way that improves and enhances consumer entertainment."
To further the goaland to counter its larger rival Intel Corp., which on Thursday is expected to detail Viiv its new brand and platform for multimedia-oriented consumer systemsAMD intends to set up Live as a brand for media-savvy PCs.
Under the Live banner, it will work with an array of others, including content providers such as broadcasters, software makers and hardware companies to make it possible to meld content on TVs.
It will announce numerous partnerships, one of the first being a pact with ST Microelectronics, a fellow chip maker, which designs and sells chips for set tops and other consumer electronics gear.
"Where we think the consumers' desire is really headed is how do they integrate more what's available on broadcast network with what's available on a PC today and get one experience," Speed said.
By working with ST Microelectronics as well as set top box and PC makers and even consumer electronics makers such as DVD-player or game console makers, AMD wants to ensure that elements such as graphics and audio horsepower that are needed to meld broadcast and Internet content are built directly into PCs, set tops and other hardware.
For AMD, Live could also spell more sales of high-end desktop PC and notebook PC processors, as machines using the brand are likely to be powerful.
Software companies and networking are equally important. Thus AMD aims to work with those companies to help transmit, decode and view the various audio and video formats that could come into play.
The chip maker also intends to use its relationships with content makers to help speed along the development as well. AMD has worked with content providers including companies like Dreamworks Animation. The Live brand name, meanwhile, comes from an existing program aimed at professional content developers.
When it comes to presenting content, AMD's Live vision is sort of like a hopped up version of NASCAR's TrackPass, a paid service that supplies Web based racing information, including information on each NASCAR race car driver, Speed explained.
Using the TrackPass example, a person could be watching a televised event and simultaneously pull up alternate views or additional information from the Internet and put both on screen. In the case of a racing event, the extras might include an in-car camera, racecar telemetry or details on a specific driver.
AMD also sees the potential for more interactive advertising as well, allowing people to search out car dealers or find specific movie listings via the PC-TV connection, Speed said.
Thus a Live-brand PC would becomes a home content server, while set tops or possibly other devices such as DVD players would become the clients responsible for showing that content on a television.
AMD, which is currently working on a specification for Live-brand PCs, expects that Live devices will begin arriving around mid-year, Speed said. Although they could take time to reach consumers.
"It's big and it's going to take years to fulfill," he said. "But it's how we, at AMD, see the worlds of consumer electronics and broadcast coming together with the PC and broadband world."
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