Intel Corporation today highlighted important advances in the digital home and digital office environments. End-user research is leading Intel to better shape its understanding of consumer and business needs and is defining new industry-wide product opportunities for the digital home and the digital office.

“It’s the marriage of what’s possible with what’s needed that ultimately drives innovative solutions that are valued in the marketplace,” said Bill Siu, Intel vice president and general manager, Desktop Platforms Group. “Intel is working to understand how people are using technology and in some cases how they aren’t, to provide holistic platform solutions.”

To meet the changing workloads and user needs, Intel and the industry must bring entire platform solutions—with the features, technologies, well-tested software tools, operating systems and applications to meet end-user needs – that are validated to properly work together. One such example is Intel’s plan to deliver multi-core processors across various product lines including a forthcoming Intel dual-core processor for desktop PCs in 2005.

Research, combined with the broad-based collaboration and development of common industry specifications, has already led the industry to deliver on the digital home vision and will enable the industry to do the same for the digital office.

“Digital home is an example of a broad-based collaborative effort encompassing not only the computing industry, but also the communications, consumer electronics and content industries,” Siu said. “We’ve not only made great progress in putting common industry specifications in place, but also in developing a broad ecosystem and new products to deliver the digital home vision to consumers.”

As an example of this collaborative effort, the industry has developed several sleek-looking Entertainment PCs (EPCs) that will be available for the holiday season. Based on the Intel Pentium 4 processor with Hyper-Threading Technology and the Intel 915 Express Chipset family, the EPC combines the functionality of audio and video devices with the power of a high-end PC—packaged together in a slim form factor that can fit in a living room entertainment rack. The EPC enables consumers to store and manage personal media including photos and home movies, and to access digital entertainment – including movies, music and recorded TV programs – from a single remote control device.

Siu previewed EPCs from several leading OEMs including Alienware* and Hewlett Packard*. Intel also announced its 2004 EPC Platform which is enabling customers to develop EPCs for this holiday season.

With the arrival of the EPC, content companies are designing software that allows consumers to interact with their PC using a remote control because of specialized user interfaces designed for viewing from a distance. PC games, previously relegated to the office or den, can now be enjoyed on the living room big screen TV. Such activities as downloading music and movies are as easy as a few clicks of a button on an EPC.

Intel is working with companies including Activision*, Digital 5*, Electronic Arts*, Movielink*, Napster* and Real Networks* to bring new gaming, movie and music experiences to consumers. In order to accelerate content availability for the EPC and digital home, Intel announced its Software and Services Product Recommendations (SSPR), an enabling program and set of guidelines for Independent Software Vendors and services providers.

To further industry specification efforts in interoperability, Intel also published a new version of its device guidelines. Intel® Networked Media Product Requirements (Intel® NMPR) version 2 uses Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) Interoperability Guidelines v1.0 as its foundation and builds on it to support premium content and remote applications and services.

Digital Office Innovation and Opportunities
The company is also focusing efforts on the digital office. Intel’s vision for the digital office focuses on improving the way business is transacted with always-available, always-useful technologies and platforms that are more aware, connected, intuitive and responsive.

“When you look back at the evolution of the office environment and issues faced by office computer users, you can see that they come in waves and every once in awhile there are big, transformational changes,” Siu noted. “These seismic shifts happen only every decade or so.

“In recent years, there have been fundamental changes in the workplace as business people do their jobs,” he said. “The way we work, communicate, make decisions and collaborate across great distances and through many time zones pose new problems – both for the line-of-business personnel and IT departments.”

Powerful trends such as the dramatic increase in security breaches and cost of manageability, and the geographic dispersion of workers with increasing need for collaborative tools are among the challenges facing businesses. Others include the information paradox where businesses are collecting so much raw data but lacking tools to quickly turn that into useful information to make key business decisions and the rapid growth in wireless LAN, public hotspots and networked devices, which add to the complexities of connectivity and security.

After studying these data trends, Intel has developed four areas of focus for improving the digital office: embedded IT, instant teamwork, pervasive connectivity and the information assistant. Intel is developing technology building blocks and platform features to address these focus areas. As one example, Intel yesterday announced Intel Active Management Technology that will give IT managers a new level of manageability and maintenance over their networked computers – even those that are unregistered or turned off. It also offers asset protection by helping to prevent users from removing critical inventory, remote control, or virus protection agents.