Intel seeks 'household name' status for digital home and office products

Chip manufactuer Intel is to brand digital home and digital office products in a way that it hopes will make them a household...

Chip manufactuer Intel is to brand digital home and digital office products in a way that it hopes will make them a household name, as it did with its Centrino notebook technology.

Consumers will hear about the benefits of Intel technology for streaming video, wireless media serving, or securing a PC.

Corporate customers will be pitched PCs that can be centrally managed and partitioned, in addition to the security features, sources close to the company said.

Intel has already talked about what it calls the "platformisation" of the company, and plans to expand on that idea at a meeting for financial analysts next week in New York.

Just like Centrino, the desktop version of the campaign will try to develop a platform brand, rather putting the primary focus on the processor itself.

This desktop effort will not begin in earnest until mid-to-late 2005, when Intel starts rolling out dual-core processors and the silicon enhancements it calls the "Ts".

These are abbreviations of code names such as LT, or LaGrande Technology, a hardware-based security feature that will store protected content.

Another feature, iAMT, or Intel Active Management Technology, allows IT administrators to manage problematic PCs remotely.

The chipsets for dual-core processors and these silicon enhancements will become available in mid 2005, when Intel traditionally rolls out new chipset technologies.

Like Centrino, each of the desktop brands will be made up of individual parts. The processor and chipset are two obvious components, and Intel could revive its plans for embedded wireless access points into desktop chipsets as a third.

The company will also probably push the graphics and audio technologies in its chipsets as part of the campaign.

An Intel spokeswoman said it is not out of the question that Intel would pursue such a Centrino-style strategy, given the success of that campaign, but declined to comment further.

Despite years of focus on next-generation mobile phones, notebook technology, the digital home, and high-end servers, chips for desktop PCs are still a major part of Intel's business.

Desktop PCs currently outsell notebook PCs by roughly 64% to 36%, said Stephen Baker, director of research with NPD Techworld. Notebook shipments are growing at a much faster rate, but many consumers and corporations still like the simplicity of a low-cost desktop, he said.

Intel and its PC partners have traditionally sold desktops by pushing clock speed and performance, especially since the introduction of the Pentium 4 in 2000. The message was simple: clock speed goes up, performance goes up, user experience goes up.

But as Intel has found it harder to keep increasing the clock speed of its Pentium 4 processor in recent moths, it has started to focus on other components of processor design as indicators of performance.

Most mainstream desktop users rarely push against the performance limits of their systems, especially if all they are doing is browsing the internet or composing word processing documents. Intel believes these users can be persuaded to buy new PCs to protect themselves against security threats or to set up home media networks.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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