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AMD launches Viiv rival, Live!

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AMD has formally launched its answer to Intel's Viiv media PC platform, touting not only a branded hardware specification but also a raft of content providers who will support the initiative with music and movie programming.

Although the AMD Live! brand was announced earlier this year, only now has the chip maker said what's in the box: specifically, an Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor and... er... that's pretty much it. AMD says a Live! PC has to have "up to 7.1 surround sound and advanced graphics", so there's room for much lesser specifications to gain the Live! sticker.

Live! relies on Microsoft's Media Center operating system and the software giant's fast on/off system, so presumably, as with Viiv, Live! PCs won't actually power down, they'll just throttle back the CPU and turn off the display and hard drive when you hit the stand-by button.

Like Viiv, a TV tuner is merely an option for a Live! PC, not a pre-requisite. So much for "AMD's vision for merging broadcast TV content with interactive, personalised broadband applications and services".

AMD is offering a software and content package to support PC makers keen to offer Live! machines. It has signed up Orb Networks to stream live and pre-recorded TVs shows, movies and other content to Live! machines, but since Orb offers the same service for other "common Web-connected devices", it's hardly a stand-out feature.

AMD also offers Live! Compress to compact recorded TV programming to boost hard drive capacity, along with Live! Network Magic, a home network set-up tool, and Live! Media Vault, an online back-up package that provides 25GB of storage for free or 250GB if you pay $10 a month. The free account limits you to 500MB of downloads a month and an individual file-size limit of 25MB. Live LogMeIn, meanwhile, provides remote access to a Live! PC and its data.

Ironically, Orb lists the minimum PC specification as any computer with a "2.4GHz Intel Pentium IV processor or equivalent".

AMD promises more software, services and content in due course. Live! PCs aren't going to ship until next month, and other service/content providers may get in on the act once people can actually buy Live!-branded hardware. AMD's hardware partners include usual suspects Acer, Alienware, Fujitsu Siemens, Gateway and HP. ®

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