Intel 'ends' chip digital TV tech work

Liquid Crystal on Silicon too expensive, apparently

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Wave goodbye to the era of cheap, large-format high-definition digital TVs. Intel has apparently cancelled its LCoS chip development programme.

Intel announced its LCoS - Liquid Crystal on Silicon - initiative in January 2004. Its plan was to put it tiny LCD on a chip. The image would then be optically magnified and projected on a screen. The result: big screen digital TVs at a fraction of the cost of rival DTV technologies, such as Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing system, and offering better image quality than plasma and large LCD panels.

Indeed, when Intel demo'd the technology at its Intel Developer Forum last February, it did indeed look impressive.

However, come August 2004, Intel admitted that it had put back the commercial availability of the technology from its original, ambitious H2 2004 target.

And now it appears it has given up on the technology altogether. Various web reports cite a company spokesman admitting that the cost required to commercialise the technology was too high and time needed to do it too long to justify ongoing development.

The move, if true, follows Philips' decision earlier this month to end LCoS TV production after deciding the technology had won too little market share from rival big-screen systems. Philips was the only other major chip maker working on LCoS.

"It's still a young technology which requires a lot of development, and we lack the scale advantages," said a Philips spokeswoman at the time. "We're not big enough to quickly bring these products to a more mature level."

In other words, like Intel, Philips too has found LCoS development too costly for the anticipated rewards. Whether the two firms have considered or even discussed co-operation is not known. ®

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