Intel silicon makes up the base of the Viiv platform. The first building block for Viiv is a dual-core Intel CPU – a Pentium Extreme Edition, Pentium D or the forthcoming Yonah core. The latter opens the way for very small form factor Viiv media PCs, drawing little power and producing minimal heat, resulting in near silent operation. There obviously needs to be an Intel chipset to accommodate the CPU and initially that will mean 955X or 945G/P solutions. Finally there will be an Intel network controller thrown into the equation.
If you think that this concept sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Think back a couple of years to the launch of Centrino – Intel’s mobile platform – and the resemblance is obvious. What you’re witnessing here is Intel’s desire to move on from being a chip manufacturer and become a platform manufacturer – after all, why just make the heart of a device when you can make the whole backbone?
Interestingly, wireless networking isn’t part of the Viiv specification, although Intel did admit that the platform is far more compelling with wireless thrown into the mix. With wired networking being an integral part of the specification, Intel was keen to announce that it has joined the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. Using home power lines as a networking infrastructure has been on the cards for a while, and retail products have been shipping for some time. It’s clear from this move that Intel is aware of the limitations of wireless connectivity, especially in older stone-built houses, and a power line networking backbone will give consumers living in a wireless “hostile environment” another connectivity option.
At this point you’re probably wondering exactly the same thing that I was wondering when MacDonald announced the name of this new platform – what does Viiv mean? Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to satisfy you’re curiosity, because according to Intel it means absolutely nothing. As with Centrino, Intel wants to create the Viiv brand, to take a totally meaningless word, and make it ubiquitous with digital entertainment. After the success of Centrino, I’m not going to doubt Intel’s ability to do just that.