Studios flip for Intel chip

H'wood likes new piracy controls

It’s tough to get excited about a computer chip. But Intel has captured Hollywood’s attention with its processor, as Warner Bros., DreamWorks and Fox plan to start making HD movies available to computers using Intel’s new chip.

With the chip — code-named “Sandy Bridge” and marking the next iteration of the company’s Core processor — Intel has essentially persuaded studios that their films are safer from piracy through an enhanced Intel Insider security system.

Illegal downloads and distribution of films have long kept studios from offering digital versions of newer titles, but Intel’s technology includes the ability to determine if users have a system using Sandy Bridge. If so, the HD version can be streamed. If not, users will be restricted to the SD version, as they are today.

As a result, studios will start releasing HD films to the PC market simultaneously with DVD and Blu-ray releases via a streaming service that will use Best Buy’s CinemaNow as the primary player.

Warner Bros. said it will make more than 300 films available using Intel’s technology starting in February.

Chip’s video-processing capabilities also enable the rendering of 3D images in real time, which should prove attractive to gamemakers.

The chip is expected to be a significant contributor to Intel’s bottom line this quarter, with Intel CEO Paul Otellini saying he expects Sandy Bridge to generate a third of Intel’s total revenue in 2011.

Intel was among a host of heavyhitters — including Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic — that unveiled their latest technologies at CES on Wednesday from various venues.

  • After “Green Hornet” co-stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou rolled out onstage in the film’s hero car to help hype the upcoming actioner and Sony’s new products, including a 3D camcorder, company chief Howard Stringer revealed that Sony is developing a 24-hour cable network with Discovery Communications and Imax to show 3D programming on the company’s line of 3D TVs. By 2013, Sony aims to be the largest consumer electronics company in the U.S. again, taking back some of the sales its started to lose to companies like Samsung and LG over the years. And if 1080p HD visuals weren’t crisp enough, Sony said it plans to produce a new line of TVs with higher 4k resolution.

  • LG said it will launch SmartTV, a new app store for its Web TVs, and a set-top box that enables owners of non-LG devices to access the store. YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video On Demand, NHL GameCenter, NBA Game Live and MLB.TV are accessible via the SmartTV platform. Similarly, Samsung said it its Samsung Apps store is now available on all of its hardware, which features much of the same entertainment offerings.

  • Panasonic announced plans to transform its VieraCast service, which embedded a limited number of apps on select HDTVs, into Viera Connect — a market that will welcome apps from a larger pool of developers. Company had been criticized for its proprietary app system and will now open the platform to developers. Early partners include Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, MLS, Facebook, Twitter, Ustream and Body Media. Panasonic also said it will enter the casual gaming market by offering Oberon Media’s I-playTV as a channel on Viera Connect.

  • Toshiba unveiled a tablet computer that runs on Google’s Android system, as its answer to Apple’s iPad, while Samsung introduced a Wi-Fi only version of its Galaxy Tab tablet, along with the Sliding PC 7, a new tablet that runs on Windows 7 and features a slide-out keyboard. They join new tablets from Asus and other hardware-makers. Panasonic’s own Viera tablet is designed to be used as a video remote control to work with its TVs.

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