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AMD's 'Live' to rival Intel's Viiv

The new year will see an onslaught of new PC chassis stickers touting chips by AMD and Intel in a range of computer products.

If Grand Funk Railroad is on your shopping list, Advanced Micro Devices has the computer for you.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based processor maker will unveil its "Live" brand at the Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place this week in Las Vegas.

The brand--whose logo will be printed on a sticker on the chassis of a desktop or notebook--will indicate that the computer in question is tuned for home entertainment. Live PCs will come with 7.1 surround sound capabilities, for instance, said Hal Speed, a marketing architect for AMD.

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The company first began to apply the Live designation, which resembles the block stencil lettering found on musical equipment crates, on computer equipment sold to customers in the entertainment industry. The country music show "Austin City Limits," for instance, uses AMD Live PCs.

"The equipment used on the show has 'AMD Live' stenciled on it," Speed said, adding that the brand is supposed to resemble something a roadie might lug around.

AMD's use of the Live designation on PCs is similar to Intel's Viiv strategy. Intel will put its new brand on PCs carrying the technology, which will have been built with home entertainment in mind.

One difference is that Intel will test its Viiv PCs for compatibility with several set-top boxes, download services and music players. Thus, several products will contain "Viiv certified" labels.

In addition, Intel plans to unfurl a major branding overhaul.

AMD will test Live PCs with some products. At CES, for instance, STMicroelectronics will show off a set-top box that works with Live PCs. Overall, however, AMD will rely on products complying with standards set by independent organizations and not perform as much interoperability testing of its own.

"We really think the standards bodies should handle interoperability," Speed said.

AMD will also concentrate on selling only one component--the processor--in Live PCs. To get the Viiv sticker, PC makers have to insert an Intel processor into the box, but also an Intel chipset and networking components. The systems also come with Intel-created software.

"Our approach is to set criteria," Speed said.

Live PCs are scheduled to come out around the middle of the year. Viiv PCs will arrive in the first quarter.

To date, attempts to put the PC in the living room have been a flop. The early version of Intel's EPC computer TV, intended to be the centerpiece of a home entertainment center, sold in low numbers. The upcoming models, however, are smaller than the previous editions and will require fewer fans. More pervasive home networking will also mean that the PC can stay in the den but be operated in the living room with a remote control through the TV screen.