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Intel Unveils Next-Gen Chips

January 6, 2011

Intel Corp unveiled its next-generation microchips Wednesday morning at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, saying their superior graphics and content protection capabilities marked one of the company’s most important breakthroughs.

“The built-in visual capabilities enabled by these new processors are stunning,” said Intel PC client head Mooly Eden in a statement accompanying the unveiling. The statement was entitled: “Intel Brings ‘Eye Candy’ to Masses with Newest Laptop, PC Chips.”

Although details of the new line of processors — codenamed “Sandy Bridge,” also known as 2nd Generation Intel Core processors — have been known for quite some time, Wednesday’s introduction focused on the line’s video and graphics potentials.

Intel also shed light on a new partnership with Warner Bros Digital Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Best Buy to stream high-definition movies to PCs running the new microchips.

Chief Executive Paul Otellini told Reuters the new chips will yield about a third of its corporate revenue in 2011 and help generate more than $125 billion in sales for the personal computer industry.

“This is the biggest launch of the year, but it’s beyond that,” he told reporters at CES.

Although microprocessors are Intel’s main money maker, investors are eager to hear about its plans for the growing smartphone market. Otellini said announcements on that area will come next month at the Mobile World Congress.

Intel, which is the world’s largest microchip company, still lags in the lucrative smartphone and tablet markets. Smartphones and tablet makers have, for the most part, rejected Intel offerings in favor of energy efficient chips based on ARM Holdings designs.

Intel is relying on other new chips due out early next year that will help reel in the mobile market.

The newly unveiled microprocessors combine graphics capabilities on the chips that are the brainpower behind personal computers. Intel boasts the integrated chips perform better than 40 to 50 percent of the dedicated graphics chips on the market today.

Intel claims the microchips will be far faster and include piracy protection that will make it safer for Hollywood studios to use the Internet to stream films and TV shows.

Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group, said the chips will force his company to make content a service to deliver, rather than just a product. “You’ve taken the excuse away from us. We now are going to put our content out earlier, in high-definition.”

Intel also announced a new feature Wednesday it cleverly calls Intel Insider, a video-delivery service that allows users to stream video from content partners such as Warner’s WBShop to watch on your 2G-equipped PC or on an HDTV connected over HDMI. The service will be available live sometime this quarter.

Another new feature, given the name Quick Sync Video, “takes the wait out of editing and sharing videos with astonishing performance that completes in minutes what used to take hours,” said Intel at CES. When announcing the new processor line’s video prowess last September, Intel chief media architect Hong Jiang said that its tricks would include “a color-processing capability we’re calling ‘consumer electronics”“quality color processing’.”

Other features include some that have been known for some time, including support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), Turbo Boost 2.0, and on-chip Intel HD Graphics.

Intel’s integrated graphics have never been known to be that impressive, and it remains to be seen whether the latest chips will live up to the company’s promise of enabling “significant graphics performance improvements over previous-generation graphics for both HD media processing and mainstream gaming.”

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