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Intel unveils digital TV plan

The chipmaker hopes to standardize the content format for digital TV and touts a new version of its technology for viewing TV and the Web simultaneously.

Intel (INTC) launched an initiative for standardizing the format of content for digital TV and also a new version of its Intercast technology at Western Cable TV Show, which gets under way today.

Intel announced its Open Digital Broadcast Initiative to streamline creation of content for digital TV receivers. The initiative seeks to develop an industry standard format so that a content creator would create material which would be viewable on any digital TV, whether the content is delivered by terrestrial, cable, or satellite broadcast.

The initiative comes on the heels of Intel's demonstration last week of future TV set-top computers running on Pentium II processors, and Intel's stated intention of supplying the major building blocks for these boxes. (See related story)

Today's initiative encompasses a set of technologies for digital broadcast services, including Intel's Intercast Viewer 2.0. Intercast is a technology for simultaneously viewing TV and Web content.

The technologies will be developed by Intel "and members of the content industry," according to the chipmaker.

Services based on this technology might include content from Web sites, enhanced television programming, electronic program guides, or electronic subscription services, according to Intel.

Intel also announced the Intercast Viewer 2.0. New features include file transfer capabilities, which might include sending a software program, and real-time message streaming, such as a stock ticker. Content creators can also control the screen layout in order to design an interface with an individual look and feel, Intel said.

Intel expects to introduce the Intercast 2.0 in the first quarter of 1998.

Additionally, Intel said it will work with national broadcast and satellite networks, local TV stations, and cable operators to enable deployment of new applications.

In related news, Intel is demonstrating at the cable show a playback technology for digital television on a PC, using the "All-Format Decoder" (AFD) technology. The technology is based on Hitachi's AFD algorithm, developed by Hitachi's Digital Media Systems Lab in Princeton, New Jersey.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.