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Intel Moves Into Consumer Electronics

The world’s largest microchip maker said it intends to give consumer electronics the same level of attention it gave last year to wireless technology, which was highlighted in a $300 million marketing campaign for its laptop computer chips.

While Intel already dominates the market for PC microprocessors, its latest initiatives target a new set of competitors: consumer electronics leaders such as the Netherlands’ Philips Electronics  , who are unlikely to accept the chip giant’s entry without a fight.

“Our goal is to eliminate boundaries between electronic devices inside and outside the home,” Paul Otellini, Intel president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “For Intel in 2004, this effort will receive as much focus as the work we did last year to advance wireless technologies for mobile computing.”

Otellini, who is scheduled to outline Intel’s plans on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said the company expects to deliver a microdisplay chip, which uses a technology called liquid crystal on silicon, in the second half of the year.

Display manufacturers in China, Taiwan, and the United States are now working with Intel prototypes, the company said.

Otellini is also expected to outline the company’s work on a slim-form computer it calls the Entertainment PC. The PC, expected to be available from PC manufacturers mid-year for under $800, connects directly to the television and includes a remote control instead of a keyboard.

The Entertainment PC, Intel said, will organize TV programs, movies, music, and video games, and share them over wireless home networks.

Earlier this week, Intel said it would invest $200 million in companies that are building “digital home” technologies intended to allow media to freely flow between electronic devices around the home.

Intel’s television chips use a novel technology that combines liquid crystals, a mirror-like surface and a silicon chip.

Texas Instruments Inc. already supplies a chip using a rival technology, called digital light processing, which uses more than a million microscopic mirrors to reflect a high-definition image onto a big-screen television. Big-screen sets based on DLP are produced by Korea’s Samsung Electronics  , France’s Thomson  , and others.

Intel said it expects televisions based on its technology to be available for less than $2000. The company said Infocus Corp., a U.S. digital projector maker, China’s TCL and Skyworth, as well as Taiwan’s Primax PDC are developing products based on prototype Intel microdisplays.

Source: Reuters