Intel outlines future of interactive television

Intel has introduced the CE4100 SoC. The 45nm chip – expected to encourage the development of interactive television content and applications – is fully compatible with Blue-ray, Digital TV and other entertainment devices.

“Intel is applying Moore’s law to CSpace with the CE4100 SoC, previously codenamed Sodaville,” explained Intel’s Eric Kim. “The CE4100 is based on Atom architecture and will be fully compatible with the CE3100. The new chip offers a number of improvements, including support for high-end audio and MPEG 4, while doubling the 2D/3D speed. The chip also features an integrated NAND controller, along with DDR2 and DDR3 memory support.”

According to Kim, the future of interactive television is contingent on three primary factors: breakthrough technology, a positive user experience and a solid business model.

“All three must converge,” said Kim. “The radio, telephone and television took years until they realized a successful business model. And we know that consumers have said and continue to say ‘don’t’ make my TV work like a PC.’ So, we need to create rich experiences while retaining the safe, simple, social feeling associated with traditional television watching.”

He added that broadcast networks were “quickly” moving away from traditional, linear television models.

“Traditional broadcast networks are quickly shifting from a linear model to a multi-stream, Internet-optimized model to offer consumers digital entertainment that complements the TV such as social networking, 3-D gaming and streaming video.”

Kim was later joined on stage by David Wadhwani of Adobe, who explained that Flash 10 was an important “enabling technology” that would help developers “blend” video, 3-D animation, gaming and rich graphics. Wadhwani confirmed that Intel is working with Adobe to port Flash Player 10 to Intel CE media processors – which will optimize the playback of H.264 video and enable Flash-based television content.

“The architecture of Intel media processors provides a powerful and innovative platform to showcase Flash-based applications in a vivid way,” opined Wadhwani. “Flash Player 10 combined with the performance of the Intel media processor and its support for standards such as OpenGL ES 2.0 offers a compelling environment for Flash-based games, videos and other rich Web content and applications.”

Intel’s Justin Rattner expressed similar sentiments and predicted that high-quality 3-D video will someday soon be streamed to living rooms around the world.

“By the year 2015, you can expect 15 billion consumer devices capable of delivering TV content with billions of hours of video available,” said Rattner. “We’ll need much more sophisticated ways to organize content and provide it on demand. Intel Labs researchers are working on evolving technology so people can get the TV content they want, when they want it and wherever they want it.”

Rattner also spoke to a life-size 3-D version of 3ality Digital CTO Howard Postley about the intense computation and bandwidth required for capturing and managing 3-D TV in real time. The two discussed how a new high-speed optical I/O technology from Intel – codenamed “Light Peak” – will improve bandwidth and flexibility while significantly reducing the complexity and cost of digital downloads.

According to Postley, 50 copper-based cables on the set of a 3-D shoot today could eventually be replaced with a single optical cable with Light Peak technology.