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Intel’s Focus Is Entertainment With New Chips

Intel CEO Paul Otellini officially unveiled the company’s Centrino Duo and Viiv processor platforms at International CES, initiating the company’s plunge into delivering digital entertainment to mobile and home computers.

Centrino Duo, formerly code-named Napa, represents the company’s first new premium processor brand since Pentium was introduced in the mid-1990s, Otellini 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. Overall the company expects to launch 20 new processors and chipsets during the next month throughout its product line.

“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. Otellini 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 now shipping.

Intel introduced new logos for its partners products indicating whether they carry the Centrino Duo platform or are Viiv certified. These are all part of a major marketing shift by Intel that has the company replacing its famous “Intel Inside” tag and replacing it with “Intel. Leap Ahead.”

The updated branding scheme simplifies and unifies the look and feel across Intel’s product lines and platforms and should better communicate important characteristics and value to consumers, the company said.

During his speech Otellini 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. Viiv and Centrino Duo will be included in several upcoming Dell products.

No Vegas keynote would be complete without a few Hollywood types, so Otellini was joined by Morgan Freeman, Danny DeVito and Tom Hanks (making his second appearance of the show). They were on hand to promote ClickStar, a venture that will make movies for distribution on the Internet.

The first film, starring Freeman, is called “Ten Items or Less” and is expected to hold its online premiere in the near future. The movie is also expected to be released in theaters just prior to coming to the Web.

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