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Valley, Hollywood stars line up

Intel leads a who's who of entertainment and PC firms showing off new multimedia today.

BURLINGAME, California--Intel is teaming up with a veritable who's who of entertainment and software companies today to show off technologies for creating rich multimedia content on the Internet, including Sony, 3DO, Adobe Systems, Microsoft, and Macromedia.

The one-day Intel-sponsored Internet Media Symposium, at the Hyatt Regency near San Francisco International Airport, is another sign that it's not enough to surf the Web--you have to be able to watch real surfing or play 3D games in today's fast-paced technology world as well.

That requires lots of chip power--this is where Intel comes in--and complex software packaging.

"The power of the Internet is impossible to overestimate--yet it so far has provided an underwhelming experience in terms of rich multimedia," said Andy Grove, chief executive of Intel, which is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network. "The challenge is to architect the Internet experience so that we judiciously use bandwidth along with local storage."

Intel and Sony confirmed their trials involving "streaming video" technology for the Internet from Intel and music from the labels groups' artists. Also on hand at today's conference was Steve Rennie, senior vice president of Epic Records, a unit of Sony Music.

As reported by CNET, Intel is partnering with Sony to provide multimedia content built around Sony entertainment applications and Intel Internet technology. One example shown at today's event is a virtual blues club featuring a performance by Keb 'Mo', a Sony recording artist, and an online chat that viewers can join.

The demonstration displays what Intel means by "balanced" architecture PCs: computers that store multimedia content on the local hard disk or CD-ROM drive but link to the Net for less bandwidth-intensive data. As part of the strategy, Intel is working on what it considers the ideal Internet-capable PC, called a "dream machine" by insiders, that is expected to become a reality in 1997.

Grove outlined details of this dream machine, referring to the box formally as the Advanced Connected PC. Its features will include Intel's MMX technology, 3D graphics, enhanced audio, and the ability to send photos over the Net.

The CEO predicted that the machine would cost less than $2,500 and be shipped in 1997. He didn't identify who would make the computer, but the group is expected to include IBM, Compaq, Dell and Gateway, among others.

Grove also disclosed a new technology called Audio Control '97, a combination of hardware and software that aims to provide better audio quality over PCs. And he announced a developer-support program for software makers to build applications based on Intel's microprocessors.

"The program is designed to enable software to arrive on the market at the same time as PC platforms," Intel executive Claude Leglise said.

In another demonstration, video-game maker 3DO planned to show a product dubbed Meridian 59 that lets groups of friends play 3D games over the Internet. The company recently has restructured to focus more on the Internet rather than video-game playing machines.

"The Internet is the first medium ever to provide a unique connectivity between computing resources and people around the globe, ushering in a new era of social computing," said Trip Hawkins, chief executive of 3DO.

Also attending the conference was Milo Medin, vice president of @Home, to discuss the company's strategy for offering high-speed Internet access over cable systems. The company plans to launch the service later this year in the California suburbs of Sunnyvale and Fremont.

In other announcements:
--2Way Media said it will work with Intel on delivering entertainment content and advertising over the Net
--OZ Interactive announced the release of a test version of 3D software, dubbed OZ Virtual
--IFUSIONcom rolled out a product for delivering multimedia programming over the Web.

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