Chip giant Intel’s Fab 24 operation in Leixlip has been chosen to manufacture its most ambitious microprocessor yet – codenamed ‘Canmore’ – which the company anticipates will do to the multi-billion entertainment industry what its Pentium and Centrino microprocessors did to the PC industry over the past 25 years.
Intel’s senior vice-president in charge of the digital home, Eric Kim, told siliconrepublic.com that the company is about to make a major leap into the home entertainment business and that its forthcoming Canmore microprocessor is being positioned to feature in a wide array of future TVs, set-top boxes, digital video recorders, Blu-ray players and much more.
Kim said the aim is to bring the internet revolution to the home entertainment world and turn what was previously a one-way interaction into a two-way interaction, allowing consumers to upload media, interact with programming and communicate via home devices.
Kim confirmed that definitive agreements have been signed with some of the world’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers.
"We are not in a position to disclose who they are yet because they are in the process of developing their products. But what I can tell you is that many of the world’s greatest consumer electronics brands have embraced Canmore for future generations of home, internet and broadcast paradigms."
Intel has been manufacturing in Ireland since 1989 when the company decided to locate its Fab 10 manufacturing facility there. The Irish operation now employs 5,000 people after the company continually invested in new wafer fabrication facilities, including Fab 10, Fab 14 and, in recent years, Fab 24.
Fab 24, which opened in 2006 following a US$2bn investment, became the first chip factory in Europe to manufacture chips using the 65-nanometre process.
Kim told siliconrepublic.com that Ireland distinguished itself with its turnaround of the forthcoming Canmore microprocessor.
"Canmore first left our design lab for manufacturing late last year and the very first chip was produced by Fab 24 at the end of last year. Fab 24 literally established new records in giving the fastest turnaround possible. It was simply amazing.
"The first chip out of the factory in Leixlip was so good that I was able to demonstrate this to the whole world at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.
"The track record of achievement of Intel in Leixlip is first-class within the entire corporation."
Kim said Canmore is Intel’s first single-chip system-on-a-chip (SOC). "Until now, Intel delivered microprocessors for the PC and chipsets for the PC and additional silicon for the PC, but Canmore is our first single-chip SOC that brings everything together. It’s a significant leap forward and I’m extremely pleased to say Canmore is being manufactured here in Fab 24."
The revolutionary new chip will be shipped to original equipment manufacturers in the second half of 2008 and the first generation of Canmore-powered consumer electronics devices should be hitting the retail channel in the first half of 2009, Kim said
"Canmore is Intel’s first silicon designed for the consumer electronics category and designed to address multiple segments of the consumer electronics market, from TVs and set-top boxes to media players and devices like the Apple TV and TiVo.
"Our Canmore chip is one of the most advanced microprocessors we have ever created. It combines the full power of the Intel microprocessor with leading-edge audio and video capabilities. It will be able to handle multi-channel terminal adapter (TADP), real-time video and 7.1 audio processing, combined with full 3D-graphics engine. It is a PC calibre chip combined with all the necessary consumer in-outs and security."
Kim said the aim is to harness the internet revolution and bring it to the living room. "The TV and movie world has had the benefit of observing what happened in the music industry. Now what’s happening is we are witnessing movie downloading and the phenomena of user-generated content. This will bring forth a revolution in itself.
"A few years ago YouTube was nowhere. Now, it’s everywhere. Someone said recently that history happens on YouTube. They’re right. Future TV viewers will be fully in command of getting what they want, when they want it and be able to enjoy it on a large, high-definition TV screen."
Kim added the move into consumer entertainment business is a major gamble for Intel. "Canmore is our first step into the consumer electronics space. From a user-base perspective, it is probably the largest market we have ever attempted to target. There are more people watching TV than people carrying smart phones or PCs. We want to be at the forefront of the transformation of TV from a one-way broadcast to a two-way interactive experience."
By John Kennedy