AMD Live Challenges Intel’s Viiv

AfterIntel announced its new “Leap Ahead” branding effort to go along with its Viiv technology, it was inevitable that chip contenderAMD would soon parade its own digital entertainment initiative. AMD did so at this week’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, touting its “Live” offering, which already has the support of STMicroelectronics and other technology partners, including Alienware, ATI, Broadcom, Motorola, Nvidia and VIA.

AMD and Intel are both trying to etch a place in the consumer digital entertainment market, which is growing more and more important with the success ofApple’s iPod and a growing interest in media center PCs. While their approaches differ, the two rivals are using similar words to describe their efforts.

For example, “it’s no coincidence that one’s called ‘Viiv’ and one’s called ‘Live,'” Jupiter Research vice president Michael Gartenberg told TechNewsWorld.

Changing Image and Experience

Intel no longer wants to be viewed simply as the maker of the silicon behind computers and other gadgets. For its part, AMD hopes to change the way consumers experience digital entertainment with its new AMD Live technology, which is based on AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors for PCs and notebooks.

“Our vision for digital media is grounded in leveraging the strength and flexibility of the PC to empower consumers to enhance their entertainment experiences with personal, interactive applications — all without disrupting [the] TV viewing experience,” said a statement from AMD senior vice president Iain Morris.

The open standards-based effort will focus on converging home entertainment and computing and provide PC benefits of storage, access and management for enhanced consumer control, AMD indicated.

Beyond Speeds and Feeds

Although their approaches to digital entertainment differ, both AMD and Intel are facing the challenge of transforming PC “speeds and feeds” into a tier one entertainment system and experience for consumers, Gartenberg said.

Intel may have an advantage, he added, given its past success appealing to consumers with Centrino wireless technology.

“They’re not just creating a chip, they’re making sure the [original equipment manufacturers] are supporting the types of devices consumers will embrace,” he said.

Partner Up or Change Platform?

The two companies are taking very different approaches as they enter the digital consumer entertainment fray, Mercury Research President Dean McCarron told TechNewsWorld.

AMD is much more likely to forge a partnership with a company that has a large customer segment, he said,”whereas Intel is fairly monolithic and is coming up with a solution that is very Intel-oriented.”

It is too early to tell which approach will work better, but McCarron predicted that Intel will likely produce many iterations of its technology before Viiv is in its final form, while AMD is more likely to change partners as the company adjusts its strategy.

Intel is looking to make its technology a standard in home and consumer digital entertainment, said Toni Dubois, an analyst with Current Analysis, noting that its undertaking is much larger than AMD’s relatively simple effort.

Intel will have the first-to-market advantage with its Viiv technology, she told TechNewsWorld. AMD, however, has established its ability to compete and even beat Intel, as it did with 64-bit processor technology.

“AMD has proved they have the technical know-how to deliver advanced performance,” Dubois said, adding that the AMD Live initiative is a good strategy and an important one. “It’s crucial for them to challenge Intel on this level. The stakes are high.”

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