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Intel's making friends with the cable industry

After trying for years to displace cable companies with living room PCs, Intel has decided to adopt the OpenCable standard inside future products.

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," apparently still has legs as a business strategy.

Intel has been trying for years to get PCs with its chips inside living rooms, trying to offset the slowing growth of the PC market by creating a new way to use PCs. That hasn't worked, as Media Center PCs and their Viiv successors have sold fairly well but few consumers are actually using them in place of their digital cable or satellite boxes at the center of their entertainment systems.

Future Intel chips for entertainment PCs like this one will be able to get MASH reruns from your cable company. Tom Krazit/CNET

So Intel announced Monday that it will incorporate the OpenCable standard inside a low-power consumer electronics chip slated to come out next year. This will allow those PCs or handhelds to hook up to digital cable outlets and watch the best of what the cable industry has to offer. In return, Comcast has agreed to use an Intel chip inside one of its own set-top boxes within the next two years.

This allows Intel to offer products that can hook up to the cable world as well as to the vast world of Internet video. Now, assuming someone can actually make software to make the whole experience easier to set up for the average couch potato, they may actually be on to something here.

Neither Intel nor Advanced Micro Devices has had much traction pushing PCs as entertainment centers, despite a great deal of effort. AMD currently supports the older CableCard technology with the All-In-Wonder products it acquired from ATI, but its AMD Live! isn't exactly taking the PC world by storm, either.