Intel Beefs Up CPUs With Graphics Power — and Content Protection
LAS VEGAS — Intel is preparing a new line of processing, graphics and wireless technologies aimed in part at bringing video to consumers — and preventing them from copying it.
The content protection scheme, known as “Intel Insider,” is a feature built into its second-generation Core processors, which Intel unveiled Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show here.
The feature will prevent playback or copying of HD video content through insecure channels within a PC. For example, video can be delivered to a secured HDMI port, but not over an unsecured PCI bus. It also provides a mechanism for online content providers to recognize Intel Insider computers, and deliver copy protected content only to them.
“It’s like an armored truck, if you will,” Intel marketing director Josh Newman told Wired. “It’s a way of securing the content once it’s inside the PC.”
The second-generation chips, which will retain the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 nomenclature used in the current generation of chips, feature enhanced graphics processing capabilities aimed at delivering better 3-D image rendering for games, faster image editing as well as improved HD video processing. They are made with Intel’s 32nm manufacturing process and incorporate its high-k metal gate transistor technology.
In a demo, Intel showed a “video thumbnail” browser that let users browse through dozens of simultaneously-playing video clips. Intel says the chips can support playback of 7 or 8 HD video streams simultaneously, and can transcode and downsize a two-hour HD video to iPhone format in 5 or 10 minutes — without tying up the processor, so you can continue to use your computer during the operation.
Quad-core versions of the chips will be available on Jan. 9, with dual-core versions to follow in February. PC manufacturers will soon introduce more than 500 laptop and desktop models using the chips, according to Intel.
Intel says the chips will also be more power efficient, leading to longer battery life and enabling thinner, lighter and cooler notebooks.
They will all include an enhanced “Intel Turbo Boost” technology that reassigns CPU and graphics processing resources as needed to provide improved performance to applications, such as games.
But it’s the Intel Insider feature that has movie studios excited.
“Now that Intel has made it more secure, we’re able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC,” said Warner Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara, in a press release.
Although Intel Insider prevents end-user copying and playback, Intel is pitching the feature as one that’s beneficial to consumers, presumably because it will make movie studios and TV networks more comfortable about selling or renting their content online, thus opening the door to more content. It also doesn’t require people to enter complicated authentication codes — the authentication all happens in the background.
“We’re trying to be user-centric,” Intel senior vice president Tom Kilroy told Wired in a pre-briefing.
In addition to Warner, Twentieth Century Fox will also use Intel Insider to distribute content. CinemaNow will also support the feature.