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Intel readies 'East Fork' digital home PC platform

Think Centrino for the living room

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Intel is gearing up to create a Centrino-style brand and platform for 'digital home'-oriented PCs, it has emerged.

Codenamed 'East Fork' - after the Ohio state park, apparently - the platform centres on 'Smithfield', the upcoming dual-core Pentium 4 CPU, and 'Lakeport', Intel's next-generation desktop chipset.

Like Centrino, East Fork will also have a wireless component - almost certainly the 'Caswell 2' module that Intel chipset marketing chief Sunil Kumar was reported to have mentioned this week as a Lakeport component. Caswell 2 contains is believed to contain Intel's 'Calexico 2' tri-mode Wi-Fi chipset.

Smithfield, Lakeport, and Caswell 2 are all due to ship during H2 2005, and that's also when East Fork is said to be scheduled for a public introduction, according to Taiwanese mobo maker sources cited by DigiTimes.

East Fork will form the basis for a major marketing drive behind the 'digital home' concept, though that's something Intel has been discussing for some time. Unlike Centrino, there's nothing radically new here, simply an alternative way of marketing standard products. But Intel has often said it's increasingly interested in offering platforms rather than processors. The logic is clear: this way it gets to sell not only the CPU, but the chipset and other add-ons, and it helps the company move away from its old stance that performance was all about megahertz and nothing else.

Intel talked about a number of such platforms at last February's Intel Developer Forum, though they were then attached to the then-unreleased 'Grantsdale' and 'Alderwood' chipsets, and apparently offered more as broader concept systems than as a true Centrino-esque platform and brand. In the end, Intel took the former approach, in contrast with what it apparently plans to do with East Fork.

The Taiwanese sources claim Intel already has some 50 partners companies committed to backing its East Fork initiative. And the Digital Home Fund the company announced back in January 2004 will be used to encourage other vendors to step on board, they say. ®

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