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Intel unveils VIIV

Intel unveils VIIV

The VIIV logo is bright and friendly, designed to appeal to families.

It's just like The Matrix all over again. What is VIIV? Nobody can be told exactly what VIIV is - you have to, well, guess a bit for yourself.

Intel announced their new platform brand this morning, and the name of the brand is VIIV (pronounced Vive, like hive or alive). The basic idea is this: Centrino is a name that everybody knows as the combination of the processor, motherboard and wireless capability for a great overall platform. Intel wants to drive that brand recognition and universal capability to other platforms, and the first one is the media PC in the home.

However, exactly what is in these PCs, we're not sure, with the man in charge of the programme, fellow Brit Don MacDonald, being characteristically enigmatic. We only have preliminary details, with Intel being tight-lipped about exactly what hardware we'll see.

So what do we know?

VIIV appears to be shorthand for a series of technologies that a media PC must have to deliver the best user experience at home. Just as Centrino has four vectors (connectivity, battery, performance and form factor) VIIV has three of its own - ease of use, performance and ease of connectivity.

PCs branded up as VIIV will be more like normal consumer entertainment devices, designed for any numpty to be able to use. As a consequence, each one must sport certain things - one is a remote control, and one is Intel's new quick resume technology, which allows PCs to power up and down as quickly and simply as normal devices like TVs.

Also in the VIIV specification is the ability to transcode media simply and quickly. The idea is that no matter what the file format or codec, it should be viewable on your home theatre PC, as well as your laptop, portable device, whatever you connect to your media PC. This is an ambitions plan, and we're interested to see how Intel will handle DRM from companies like Apple of DivX Networks.

But what about the hardware, dammit?

So what hardware will actually be inside VIIV PCs? Well, right now it's incredibly unclear, and that's where the crux of the mystery lies. Intel showed off a desktop box that had a dual core Pentium M chip in it, which rather suggests that Intel are planning to bring Pentium M to the desktop under this brand. Will we also see normal Pentium 4 chips in these boxes? It's a distinct possibility, meaning that VIIV could encompass a wide range of hardware, validated rigorously to work together.

The alternative view, which we're wondering about right now, is that it looks a little bit like VIIV is a great way for Intel to begin to drop the Pentium 4 quietly and shift to Pentium M for desktop PCs.

High VIIV

So, it's looks like we're going to have to unplug ourselves from our tranditional notions of what media PCs and desktop PCs are, and work our way further down the rabbit hole to find out just what VIIV is going to encompass. You can guarantee we've got Agents working on it right now - in fact, we may just have Don in the interrogation chair this afternoon...

Thoughts on VIIV? How many amusing-sounding puns can you come up with? Post 'em here!