Gaming chips, movies to anchor digital home

PC gamers will soon get their very own Pentium 4 processor, Intel announced Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum.

The Pentium 4 processor with Hyperthreading Technology Extreme Edition will be available in 30 to 60 days, Intel Vice President and General Manager Louis Burns announced during his keynote address Tuesday afternoon.

The processor will be shipped at 3.2GHz, and Intel added 2M bytes of Level 3 cache to it, Burns said. Additional cache means the processor can store larger amounts of frequently accessed instructions close to the CPU (central processing unit), improving performance.

Burns also shed more light on the DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocol) standard designed to protect premium content as it travels between home networking devices.

DTCP-IP was announced by Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini Tuesday morning. It provides a way to ensure that only devices within a home network can share digital content by requiring public key authentication before transferring a file, Intel said.

By implementing the standard in PCs and consumer electronics devices, movie studios will be able to distribute content and prevent the files from being shared around the globe through peer-to-peer networks, Burns said. Without such protection, studios will be extremely reluctant to deliver such services as in-home premium movies on demand, he said.

Products based on the standard will be available in the second half of 2004, said Digital Home Working Group chairman Scott Smyers in a videotaped presentation during the keynote.

Intel's vision of the digital home was on display for the conference attendees, complete with futuristic products as well as demonstrations of existing technologies.

Burns demonstrated a compact PC from Gateway Inc. that uses the next generation of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system. It allows consumers to run multiple programs at the same time, such as downloading a video while playing an interactive game, and is designed for use with digital entertainment, he said. Gateway will release the device within 30 days.

Intel also announced a new reference design for future PCs. Formerly known as Big Water, the new Balance Technology Extended (BTX) design is available to motherboard designers as of Tuesday, and products based on the design are expected to appear next year, Burns said.

BTX will contain technologies such as a resilient power supply, which protects unsaved on-screen data in the event of a temporary power interruption, Burns said.

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