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Intel, Sony side on IEEE 1394, Memory Stick

Or have they? Intel says 'yes', Sony says 'maybe'...

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Just what has Intel agreed to on work with Sony? Has it agreed to work with the Japanese giant at all? There certainly seems to be some confusion here. On Tuesday, speaking at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger, general manager of Intel's desktop group, told attendees the company is working with Sony on a number of technologies, including home networking kit and a wireless version of the despised IEEE 1394 - or, iLink, as Sony calls it.

However, yesterday Sony responded by saying the two companies were talking about talking about these technologies - but they weren't actually discussing them yet. It's clear that the two companies are in negotiations, and also that Gelsinger has jumped the gun a tad. Home networking is an obvious point of contact for both companies, since Intel is very keen on it as a new market into which it can sell its technology and Sony sees it as the basis for future interconnected and interoperable home entertainment systems.

Sony sees 1394 as the idea technological basis for such networks: and for all Gelsinger's dissing of 1394 in the face of USB 2.0 and now Serial ATA, Intel remains a member (albeit a late arrival) of the 1394 patent pool. This was formed after Apple's attempt to levy $1-a-port licence fees for its 1394 (aka FireWire) intellectual property, a key component of the standard.

Sony is a founder member of that patent pool. It's also a founder member of HAVi (Home AV interface), the proposed 1394-based home entertainment interconnect standard. Getting Intel's backing for HAVi would be a good thumbs-up for the would-be standard, and help it move beyond the consumer electronics world into the consumer space. Sony's contribution would probably be a statement that it supports USB 2.0 for peripheral connectivity and, like Intel, sees 1394 simply as a CE connectivity technology.

It has also emerged that Sony's Memory Stick solid-state floppy technology is also part of the discussions, according to Japan's Jiji news agency. Allowing Intel to produce Memory Sticks would be a considerable boost for the technology, and could even see it becoming part of the joint Intel-Microsoft PC200x specification. In return, Intel ensures 1394 remains part of the spec. Clearly the two companies have a lot to talk about, and with any luck one of the first things they agree upon is how to announce such an alliance in sync with each other. ®

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