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This week in Intel

The dominant theme at this week's Intel Developer Forum revolved around reducing power consumption.

The dominant theme at this week's Intel Developer Forum revolved around reducing power consumption, a concept the company has espoused since the beginning of the decade.

Intel used the forum to show off road maps of its server, notebook and desktop chips for 2006 and 2007. Some of the future chips reverse key technological decisions and design ideas behind the Pentium 4. Hyperthreading, one of the touted features of the Pentium 4, will not be part of a new round of chips coming in the second half of 2006, although later chips will likely include some form of threading.

Merom, a notebook chip coming in the second half of 2006, is expected to provide substantially more performance than current notebook chips. Toward the end of the decade, Intel will also come out with an ultra-low-power version of its chip for consumer electronics that consumes one-tenth of the power of chips like Merom.

The chip giant also outlined several advancements it hopes will improve the performance of next year's notebooks, including a technology that creates a deeper sleep state. The "Enhanced Intel Deeper Sleep" technology, a feature of the company's new chips, lowers a processor's voltage below the Deeper Sleep state found in Intel's current family of mobile chips.

The chipmaker said its upcoming Napa platform will include an improved graphics media accelerator, enhanced video playback capabilities, support for high-definition displays and Intel's High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, or HDCP.

Intel is also getting behind the technology that allows the internal power wiring in a home to deliver broadband service. Intel, along with Motorola and Cisco Systems, has thrown its weight behind a group called the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, which develops standards and specifications for businesses and service providers offering broadband-over-power-line, or BPL, service into the home.

In addition, the group developed a new Implementers' Forum Board of Directors to get more industry involvement in developing and implementing standards. The group includes representatives from the sponsor companies, as well as Comcast, EarthLink, RadioShack, Sharp and Sony.

Intel is also hoping to entice consumers with the introduction of Viiv branding for entertainment PCs. Intel wants to use Viiv--it rhymes with "strive"--to reassure consumers that their PCs can easily handle digital audio and video, as well as share digital content over networks.

One feature of Viiv will be automatic transcoding--ensuring that audio or video encoded in one format can be translated into one that a person's computer can actually handle without the person's intervention. Another feature will be instant start-up and shutdown that will work as quickly as it does in consumer electronic devices such as DVD players.