Intel demos new Sandy Bridge chips at CES, is a door to Hollywood opening wider?

LAS VEGAS--Intel pulled out all the stops as it officially rolled out its new Sandy Bridge chips at CES. The chips include dual-core, quad-core, six-core and eight-core chips that the company said will dramatically increase speed, reduce energy use and--for the first time--include integrated graphics.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said the 2nd Generation Intel Core processing family of chips will represent one third of its corporate revenue in 2011. "It's a huge product for us," he said.

"This is the biggest launch of the year, but it's beyond that, it's the best product we've ever built, the most exciting," he said during a press conference. "(Ex-Intel CEO) Andy Grove talked about the PC as a Darwinian device...that's what today's announcement is about, the next evolution of the PC."

New features include Intel Insider, Intel Quick Sync Video, and a new version of the company's Intel Wireless Display, or WiDi, which also adds 1080p HD and content protection so users can beam premium HD content from their laptop screen to their TV. Otellini also said Intel now is working with CinemaNow, Dixons Retail plc, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, Image Entertainment, Sonic Solutions, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

The new chips "represent the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, PC Client Group, Intel. "The built-in visual capabilities enabled by these new processors are stunning. This, combined with improved adaptive performance, will revolutionize the PC experience in a way that is obvious for every user to see and appreciate - visibly smarter performance."

One of the pieces that got a lot of play during the event, Intel Insider, will give consumers access to movies on their PCs in full high-definition that were not available before.

Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Home Entertainment Group president, said the chip eliminates some of the excuses studios have used to avoid streaming HD movies to PCs.

"The PC platform has always been viewed as something that had incredible strength and opportunity for us, but we never felt safe using it with high-value content," he said. "Now, we'll be able to use it on a global basis.

"The challenge is, now you've taken our excuse away from us; now we have to put our content out earlier in HD. Now we have to make this a service instead of a product."

Tsujihara said WB would be able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC through its WBShop storefront and from partners like CinemaNow on the same day as DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Commercial distribution of HD premium content using the Intel Insider technology is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2011.

Eden, meanwhile also demonstrated Intel WiDi's ability to beam content-in this case, a clip from Inception to big-screen HDTVs. Improvements in WiDi include support for 1080pHD as well as protected content either streaming from the Internet or played locally from a Blu-ray or DVD player.

On a side note, the new chips seemed to scream when transcoding some video clips. Intel's Quick Sync, Intel said, was able to convert a four-minute HD video to play on an iPod in 16 seconds, a task that previously took nearly four minutes.