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Intel’s Focus Is Entertainment With New Chips

LAS VEGAS — Intel CEO Paul Ottellini officially unveiled the company’s Centrino Duo and Viiv processor platforms here at International CES on Thursday, initiating the company’s plunge into delivering digital entertainment to mobile and home computers.

Centrino Duo, formerly codenamed Napa, represents the company’s first new premium processor brand since Pentium was introduced in the mid-1990s, Ottellini said. Intel expects to ship about 1 million Centrino Duo chips in the next three weeks with every major and minor computer vendor signed on as a launch partner.

“With multi-core technology, we will be able to place two, four or eight processors on a single chip,” he said.

Centrino Duo’s offers several major improvements over the current Sonoma chips. This includes a 68 percent jump in performance, enabling the computer to simultaneously do several processor-intensive projects like video rendering and number crunching, something the current crop of Intel processors cannot accomplish. Napa also delivers a 28 percent improvement in battery life, to an average of five hours, and it will come with the Intel 945 chipset and the company’s 3945 ABG solution for better wireless networking connectivity.

With Viiv, Intel intends to bring a higher level of digital entertainment to the home. Viiv is a collection of chipsets that work with Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition software. Ottellini demonstrated how Viiv will create a more “CE”-like user experience with the computer being operated entirely through a remote control. It is optimized to download TV programming and movies and distribute the content around a home.

Viiv has a 110 launch partners with products shipping this week.

Intel introduced two new logos to go onto its partners products indicating whether they carry the Centrino Duo platform or are Viiv certified.

During his speech Ottellini introduced a steady stream of company CEOs, including Michael Dell of Dell, Chase Carey of DirecTV and AOL’s Jonathon Miller, to talk about how their products will work in conjunction with Viiv.

DirecTV will introduce a new Viiv set-top box, and AOL will introduce a slew of new music and video content.

No Vegas keynote would be complete without a few Hollywood types, so Ottellini was joined by Morgan Freeman, Danny DeVito and Tom Hanks (making his second CES appearance). They were on hand to promote ClickStar, a venture designed to create movies that would premiere online.

The first film, starring Freeman, is called Ten Items or Less and is expected to be released in the near future.

“ClickStar gives us the chance on getting films right out to the people,” said DeVito.