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Intel to buy digital TV chip maker

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Intel is to buy Oplus Technologies, a digital TV processor maker, the chip giant said yesterday.

Neither company would say how much Intel was paying for Oplus, a privately held firm based in Yokneam, Israel. The 100-strong workforce will continue to operate and sell products under its own name.

Oplus currently designs chips for digital TVs based on a variety of display technologies, processing the incoming signal to optimise picture quality for whatever method the image is finally projected by, be it LCD, plasma or back-projection. Chip fabrication is contracted out - it's not yet clear whether Intel will bring this 'in house'.

With TV finally entering the digital domain and HDTV emerging as a real broadcast medium, Intel clearly anticipates big business in providing the building blocks from which digital TVs and set-top boxes for old, analog sets can be made. And as sets become cheaper and larger, there will be more scope to sell products that improve picture quality.

It also wants to be able to bring such technologies to its own desktop and notebook PC products, doubly so now it's focusing more on overarching platforms rather than discrete components.

Last year, Intel canned its project to build liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) display chips, but that scheme was focused more on image display than image processing of the kind that Oplus' Rembrandt, Matisse and Monet do. ®

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