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Intel recruits top Hollywood talent to make Viiv thrive

Hopefully, they know what Viiv is

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CES Intel rolled out Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman and Danny DeVito to help sell its Viiv technology here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The star power, however, did little to convince us that this Viiv thing is more than a wishy-washy brand.

Intel describes Viiv - which sounds like 'five' - as a hardware and software pairing meant to usher in a new era of computing and entertainment. This concept fits into Intel's new "platform" marketing fluff that presents processors as some kind of lifestyle choice. For example, Intel would have you believe that you'll be a media-less hermit in a couple of years if you reject Viiv's embrace.

To lay it on thick, Intel announced partnerships with AOL, DirecTV and NBC where the content providers will certify their services to work with Viiv-enabled technology.

Then, Intel's new CEO Paul Otellini brought out Hanks, Freeman and DeVito to sell the ClickStar movie service, which will be Viiv-enabled, whatever that means. The first ClickStar film, 10 Items or Less, will premiere online "within weeks", according to the media moguls. Hanks and Freeman, in particular, talked up ClickStar, which is meant to give directors and actors a non-Hollywood mechanism for releasing films straight to consumers.

Despite all these content deals and movie stars, Viiv still seems to be little more than a media PC description.

To its credit, Intel appears to have done a nice job of pushing the content owners to release more product online, so that media PCs will actually be useful. It seems hard to imagine though that AMD-based systems and Macs would be banned from this world of glorious content despite their lacking Viiv.

Along with Viiv, Otellini talked up the slick, new Centrino Duo processor, which packs two processor cores on a single chip. "It crosses a new threshold," Otellini said. "It delivers more performance and consumes less power."

Intel expects PC makers to come out with some smashing designs with the speedy new product.

Intel has put a huge focus on branding at this year's CES, which is hardly a surprise given that Otellini is the first Intel CEO with a sales and marketing background.

"We are at the threshold of a new digital entertainment era," Otellini said, marketing Viiv hard. "This really is nothing short of revolutionizing entertainment."

It remains to be seen if Intel can keep up the marketing blitz and catch up to AMD at the same time. Viiv or no Viiv, Intel needs to show that it can compete on desktop and server performance with AMD again. ®

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