Intel homes in on entertainment

IDF: Secure wireless and dual-core processors? That's entertainment, says Intel

Home PCs able to serve multiple high-definition video streams over secure wireless links are key to the long-predicted digital home, Intel said at its Developer Forum on Wednesday. The company also pushed its dual-core Pentium processor -- without naming it or discussing any technical details -- as an important component in entertainment PCs.

More concretely, Intel released information about version two of its Networked Media Product Requirements (NMPR, pronounced 'Nipper'), which sets standards for the secure communication, user interfaces and interoperability it sees as necessary for digital home entertainment devices to catch on. Much of this development has taken place in the Digital Living Network Alliance, a group of around 160 companies including HP, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony previously known as the Digital Home Working Group. This has developed compliance testing and certification regimes, and is based around technologies such as Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play.

NMPR v 2 also includes DTCP/IP, which protects paid-for media content across wireless networks. This lets the main PC in a home do the intensive work of decrypting protected video and audio, then puts a light layer of protection over it before transmitting it to cheaper end devices. The standard is similar to a VPN technology. "DTCP/IP will work with many different sorts of digital rights management," said Bill Leszinske, director of Intel's digital home marketing and planning division. "Users will want to view premium content anywhere in the home, while content providers need to protect their rights."

Intel intends its Entertainment PC platform to replace a wide variety of home entertainment devices, including digital video recorders, stereos and TVs, which may go some way to justify the standard's multi-hundred dollar premium over normal PCs. "Only Entertainment PCs can display high-definition DVDs; no current DVD player is able to decode them." said Leszinske. He also said that Intel and Dolby Labs had signed an agreement to link Dolby's PC entertainment standard with Intel's high definition audio, and that only PCs so equipped would be able to display the Dolby logo.

A number of companies demonstrated their wares at a Digital Home exhibition within the Intel Developer Forum technology showcase, including Tatung, Dell, Samsung and LG.

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