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Intel targets 3D, home appliance PCs

Intel is targeting mainstream graphics chips and PCs that control entertainment devices.

Not content with its hold on the general PC market, Intel is targeting mainstream graphics chip business and forthcoming consumer PCs designed to serve as the control center for home entertainment devices.

Carl Everett, senior vice president of Intel's Desktop Products Group, told CNET that Intel intends to move its 3D graphics technology to build less-expensive, mainstream graphics chips as its business expands.

Intel announced in mid-May that it would for the first time design and make 3D graphics chips starting in 1997, but the company intimated that these chips would be aimed only at the high end of the market.

Now, it seems that Intel wants the entire market, from low to high end. Intel's awesome manufacturing capabilities combined with the fact that it is the supplier of the brains of a PC--the processor, chipset, and many of the motherboards--put the company at a distinct advantage in building market share. That means the writing may be on the wall for established graphics chip vendors such as S3 and ATI Technologies.

Still, in an interview today, Everett cautioned "not to make too much out of this...They'll have their markets and we'll have ours."

But low-end graphics chips are not the only new market that Intel has in its sights. Everett said the company will also start making the "building blocks" for a new breed of consumer consumers dubbed Simply Interactive PCs (SIPCs). Due to hit the market in 1997, the SIPC concept was touted earlier this year by Microsoft, Toshiba America, and Compaq, among others.

A typical SIPC, as proposed by these companies, would come in a sealed case more like a conventional appliance such as a VCR recorder than a PC and would come with a Universal Serial Bus and IEEE 1394 ports for easily connecting to keyboards, joysticks, printers, digital camcorders, VCRs, and TVs. This way, the PC would provide the user with a centralized device for all of their home entertainment devices.

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