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Intel moves closer to your living room

After abandoning plan to offer LCOS chips, Intel purchases Oplus, an Israeli maker of chips that enhance television images.

Intel still wants to be in TVs.

The world's largest chipmaker on Thursday acquired Israeli semiconductor maker Oplus Technologies to bolster its offerings for digital televisions and set-top boxes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Israeli media reported that the company paid $100 million for Oplus.

Oplus, whose chips enhance images displayed on digital televisions, will become part of Intel's Digital Home Group, a division charged with making chips for a wide range of consumer electronics.

In October, Intel abandoned its plan to offer a liquid crystal on silicon TV chip, leaving some to think that the company might no longer be interested in digital televisions. Instead, Intel intends to mount a broader effort, helped by the Oplus acquisition, a company spokesman said.

The LCOS chip would have addressed only one part of the overall TV market, whereas Oplus' technology has wider applications, said Bill Calder, an Intel spokesman. Video pixel processing, Oplus' specialty, is designed to process and enhance video signals before they are displayed on a TV screen, "something that's common across all fixed displays," Calder noted, "not just rear projection."

Products like Oplus', also made by U.S. rivals Pixelworks and Genesis Microchip, are especially important in high-definition TVs. Indeed, Oplus' products, which are named after famous artists such as Rembrandt and Matisse, work with most types of digital TVs, Calder said.

Some of those include flat-panel plasma screen TVs and liquid crystal display TVs, as well as projection systems and LCD multifunction monitors, according to Intel.

Furthermore, Oplus' Web site shows that it has worked with a number of consumer electronics brand names, including JVC and Benq, all to whom Intel would like to sell its silicon.

It's also possible that Oplus technology could work its way into PC chipsets for home PCs from Intel as the company seeks to create new digital-home chip platforms that help keep PCs at the center of digital entertainment in the home. Calder declined to discuss that possibility.

Oplus will initially become a subsidiary of Intel, said Oplus Chief Executive Yair Alpern. "We will continue to sell our own products for flat-panel TVs and digital TVs, and we're going to integrate with Intel for the digital home," Alpern said.

Currently, Oplus markets three lines of video processors. Oplus has about 100 employees, Intel said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.