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Intel outlines its own Net vision

Intel outlined "hybrid" applications that split processing between the PC and the network.

NEW YORK--Intel's Internet strategy will attempt to create a breed of "hybrid" Internet applications such as new software now under development with Time Warner, the Intercast WebTV products, and an Internet-version of Intel's ProShare video conferencing technology.

Intel's biggest challenge is to reconcile the Internet bandwidth bottleneck to the home with demanding, data-intensive Internet applications, Intel executives said today at a conference of financial analysts in New York. A hybrid Internet approach would split the data load between the client PC and the network, placing the bulk of the application data on local PC storage and relying on the network to download "temporal" data.

Such an approach is the answer to the dissonance between lack of bandwidth and the large amounts of data needed for applications, said Andy Grove, president and CEO of Intel.

As an example of what it means, Intel today demonstrated a highly graphical Internet live chat application called "Clubhouse," which the company is developing with Time Warner. The application combines video, Internet phone technology, and rich graphics using graphical representation of individual users called avatars to yield a highly interactive chat environment.

Another application that adheres to the hybrid strategy is Intercast, technology that combines television programming with Internet text and graphics. Intercast is already being used on a trial basis by CNN. Intel today demonstrated a live connection to the CNN site with a video window of the CNN news segment running in the upper half of the screen, complemented by text and graphics data on the lower portion.

NBC is also expected to begin using the Intercast technology in the coming months, Intel executives said, while the first PCs bundled with Intercast TV tuner boards and software will begin to trickle out this summer. Intel also expects that several vendors will announce Intercast-compatible browsers.

The company also presented its much-ballyhooed ProShare video conferencing technology as another potential example of its hybrid Internet strategy. The company is working with Microsoft and Netscape to lay the groundwork for ProShare on the Internet using standard phone lines, said Frank Gill, executive vice president of the Internet and communications groups at Intel.

Currently, ProShare is based on proprietary software from Intel, but Gill said Microsoft would include the necessary software in upcoming versions of Windows, while Netscape will provide Pro-Share plug-ins for its browser. The technologies won't be in place, however, for at least a year, Gill added.

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