CES: Intel unveils Sandy Bridge, plays up video enhancements

LAS VEGAS - Intel today unveiled the second generation of its Core processors - codenamed "Sandy Bridge" -  playing up the visual elements that will create a new experience in computing, the company said.In a standing-room-only press conference at the Venetian Hotel, company CEO Paul Otellini talked about the next evolution of the PC and the push into evolving categories, including televisions, cars, digital signs and home automation systems.

CES 2011

LAS VEGAS - Intel today unveiled the second generation of its Core processors - codenamed "Sandy Bridge" -  playing up the visual elements that will create a new experience in computing, the company said.

In a standing-room-only press conference at the Venetian Hotel, company CEO Paul Otellini talked about the next evolution of the PC and the push into evolving categories, including televisions, cars, digital signs and home automation systems.

But his presentation was mostly focused on the PC and the growth there. Over the coming year, he said, the processors are expected to land in more than 500 desktop and laptop PCs, bringing a microarchitecture that will combine visual and 3D graphics technology on a single chip.

On stage, company executives played up the "user experience," - and not just for consumers who want to watch the content but also want to create it. An on-stage executive called Sandy Bridge "visibly smart" and "a revolution from a technology point of view... a cornerstone of the computer revolution."

At the heart of the news were three new features - Intel Insider, Quick Sync and WiDi.

Intel Insider, Otellini said, brings a deep integration of security that's attractive to Hollywood studios and enables the delivery of premium content in a High Definition 1080p format. The security is the key that's opening the door for studios to release HD content to the PC market at the same time they're released to DVD and Blu-Ray.

Quick Sync, a built-in hardware accelerator reduces the time that it takes to edit and share video, reducing the time to complete some video tasks from hours to minutes. The company said that a 4-minute HD video that used to take 4 minutes to covert for iPod playback is estimated to take 16 seconds with Sandy Bridge.

Finally, the company also unveiled a 2.0 version of WiDi, a technology that allows content to be streamed from the PC to the living room TV screen - in HD. That's what's new, the delivery of HD content that also goes beyond personal or Internet content but also DVD and Blu-Ray video.

While the presentation was focused around the PC, Otellini said the year ahead will bring headlines around inovative technology in new arenas.

This year, you're going to see a lot from Intel. You'll see a lot around innovation around architecture... seeing us build ecosystems around new devices such as televisions, cars, home automation systems, digital signs.

He also spoke briefly about the netbook market and the company's partnership with Microsoft, noting that sales in 2011 are expected to surpass 2010 sales. He noted that more than 100 Atom-based netbooks and tablets are expected to ship in the first half of the year.

He also talked about working with Google on both the smart TV category and Chrome OS, but didn't offer many details. Likewise, he briefly mentioned the company's efforts to build a new ecosystem with auto manufacturers.  Worth noting, he said, is that CEOs of auto companies are speaking at CES this year - a change that says something about the impact of advanced technology.