SAN FRANCISCO – Intel Corp. unveiled a new chip with four computing brains on Monday, as its rival, AMD, outlined plans for home theater and entertainment hubs based on its processors.
Both companies want to appeal to mainstream consumers and extend their reach into home entertainment, although analysts say a major step by Intel a year ago to launch a consumer branded PC platform based on its chips has failed to gather steam.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. envisioned personal computers as entertainment hubs, including an all-in-one home theater device powered by its chips as it took the stage at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
For Intel, the introduction of a quad-core chip aimed at mainstream consumers was a low-key affair that constrasted with its flashy appearance at last year’s CES.
At that show, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini used his keynote speech to try to place the company at the center of home entertainment with a new program to popularize small, sleek computers.
But the market has given Intel’s “Viiv” program a lukewarm reception and the company has been largely silent on the initiative in recent months, as it sheds unprofitable units and refocuses on its core PC processor business.
“That kind of goes to their more reserved PR strategy going forward, to make sure they’re on track before doing something,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst with market research firm In-Stat.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do, both companies, in terms to trying to expand beyond the PC.”
With growth in the overall PC market chugging along in the high single digits, Intel and AMD are keen to find new uses for their chips and reckon the growing amount of digital photos, music and video in homes will provide fertile ground.
AMD said it would work with consumer electronics companies and PC makers to offer a souped-up home theater system powered by its Athlon 64 chips. The device would enable surround sound, video recording, Internet and computing functions.
“This is one set top box-looking device that can act as a set top box, a DVR (digital video recorder), home theater or stereo, and can also play your PC content,” said Aaron Feen, director of AMD’s consumer marketing.
AMD also plans to offer a home media server that could store and stream music and video throughout a home.
“Over time, it gets consumers doing more sophisticated things, which ultimately demand more processing power … and benefits us in turn,” Feen told Reuters in an interview.
Last year, AMD continued to grab market share from Intel, which responded by refreshing its entire product line and slashing prices on older chips.
Some Wall Street analysts say the companies may still be waging the price war, which may hit AMD’s bottom line.
Separately on Monday, Lehman Brothers trimmed its outlook on AMD fourth-quarter earnings to 21 cents per share from 24 cents per share, citing progress by Intel in the market for server computers.
Daniel Berenbaum, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, said that, while he thought Intel was gaining momentum in the market, other negative factors had led him to cut his quarterly earnings estimates to 24 cents a share from 26 cents a share.
“Our channel checks indicate that the entire PC food chain continues to face serious inventory issues,” Berenbaum wrote in a research note.