Inside Google TV beats a unique Intel chip

The silicon powering the Google TV is a window on Intel's future and an affirmation of its new credo: integrate, integrate, integrate.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

The silicon powering the Google TV technology is a window on Intel's future and an affirmation of its new credo: integrate, integrate, integrate.

The CE4100 is a system-on-a-chip, or SOC, which essentially means all of the various features of a computing device are packed onto one piece of silicon. Intel historically has not focused on this kind of highly-integrated chip, but rather ultra-fast processors designed for PCs and servers.

But designing Intel chips is now becoming an exercise in how many disparate features can be squeezed onto the proverbial head of a pin. In this case, the CE4100 turns a TV into a versatile computing device. "We are transforming TVs from essentially a dumb display device to smart computing device," Eric B. Kim, senior vice president at Intel, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Intel is not taking its eye off performance, though. "High performance is needed to deal with large screens, multiple streams of high-definition audio and video. Google could not do what they want on today's SOCs," said Kim. "This is not something that you hold in your hand. This is something you plug into the wall," he said, referring to other chip designs that emphasize power saving features over performance.

Intel's CE 4100 has an Intel Atom processor at its core but also packs a bunch of extras such as both graphics and display processors, audio digital signal processors, and one-gigabit Ethernet. Intel

Intel is also touting the technology's support for Adobe's Flash player. "Our view is that both HTML5 and Flash are great, so our solution supports both. (Therefore) products built with our silicon run everything," Kim said, referring to Apple's lack of support for Flash on some its products.

The Sony Internet TV, the first TV lineup incorporating the Google TV platform, will use the CE4100 chip. The initial models from Sony are slated for the U.S. market in the fall of 2010. The lineup will include both a standalone TV and set top box-type unit incorporating a Blu-ray Disc drive.

And Logitech will introduce a companion box that brings Google TV to existing HDTV home entertainment systems. This will also use the Intel chip.