Intel woos Hollywood studios with new microchip

Mon Jan 3, 2011 8:32am EST
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Intel Corp's new microchips, touted as its biggest-ever leap in processing power, include built-in content protection to make it safer for Hollywood studios to offer premium movies to consumers over their personal computers.

Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Digital Distribution and other studios plan to offer high-definition movies to consumers whose computers use the chips, code-named Sandy Bridge, at the same time as they are released on DVD, Mooly Eden, Intel's vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, told Reuters last week.

"We have been able to develop an end-to-end solution that will allow the premium content to be streamed to (computers with Sandy Bridge chips)", Eden said in an interview. "We are striking all the deals with the (studios and content distributors) to make it available."

The processors, recently shipped to manufacturers, are a big bet as Santa Clara, California-based Intel wrestles with a weak U.S. economy and sluggish consumer demand for PCs.

As well as protecting studios from piracy, the chips, which Intel will showcase at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, include improved multimedia processing.

Sandy Bridge, which will be sold under the Intel Core brand, for the first time unites central processing and graphics processing on the same piece of silicon, making it faster, more energy efficient, and likely more profitable.

"The cost structure is better, the chip is smaller, all things being equal, and performance is better. It's going to be very important for the company," Hans Mosesmann, an analyst at Raymond James, said last week.

Intel, whose microprocessors drives eight out of 10 PCs in the world, said Sandy Bridge's graphics capabilities are good enough for casual computer game players.   Continued...

<p>A Sandy Bridge wafer is seen in this undated handout image. REUTERS/</p>