November 16, 2006 10:13 AM PST

AMD designs prototype PC for the living room

Advanced Micro Devices has created a prototype PC designed to go in the living room, a place where several companies have tried to go before but almost none has succeeded.

Resembling a stereo component, the computer is designed essentially to function as a media vault: it stores music, videos, TV shows and photos, and then pipes them to flat-panel TVs and other PCs. PC makers can, conceivably, use the prototype as a reference design.

AMD prototype PC
Credit: AMD
AMD's prototype PC for the living room.

"There will be PCs in the living room. They won't look like PCs," Joe Menard, corporate vice president of consumer business at AMD, said during an interview at the Samsung Executive Summit this week in San Jose. Some of these types of PCs may come out next year, he added.

Companies that have tried to get PCs into the living room include Gateway and Compaq, which tried to sell large-projection TVs linked to PCs in the late 1990s. But high prices led to low sales.

In early 2004, Intel's Paul Otellini unfurled the EPC (Entertainment Personal Computer) at the Consumer Electronics Show. Its bulky appearance and noisy fan crimped sales. Intel revamped the idea with its Viiv line of PCs. Still, most Viiv PCs are not packaged in sleek, small cases that would fit in living-room entertainment racks. Most Viiv PCs are about the same size as standard desktops and laptops.

Apple Computer also came out with a Mac Mini in 2005, but despite the good reviews, it's nowhere near being a cultural phenomenon.

There are Intel-based computers making it into the living room, but they're not PCs. Toshiba's HD DVD player runs an x86 chip. Some set-top boxes also have Intel chips.

So why will the living-room PC concept succeed where it has limped along in the past? Chip cooling has improved, so computer makers will be able to get away from fans, Menard said.

With Vista, Microsoft's soon-to-be released new operating system, consumers will be able to play high-definition content on PCs--providing them with an incentive to pick up a living-room PC.

See more CNET content tagged:
living room, Intel Viiv, AMD, entertainment, Intel

9 comments

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This article makes no sense
Ever heard of Windows Media Center? If you care to see a high end pc entertainment center, check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.niveusmedia.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.niveusmedia.com</a>
Posted by CeeDubbs (7 comments )
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Your comment makes no sense
The article talks about how consumers have not widely adopted PC's in the living room. That goes for Media Center PC's TOO!
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Link Flag
Try building your own. Use Linux and Mythtv.
It's like a super Tivo. Mine has a 400GB hard drive and if I run out I'll just put another one in.

Mythtv plays games, shows weather, has news feeds, has photo and music section and is so far behond Windows Media Edition that Microsoft isn't even in the same league.

Oh and did I mention that Linux &#38; Mythtv are free.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
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Seems a Little Rich.
I'm pretty sure everyone is looking to spend a little less for the Media Center PC. If the OEMs would get their heads out of their butts, they could build comparable systems for much less. They just seem to be hung up on upright boxes for some reason.

BT
Posted by bjterry62 (7 comments )
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Huh?
$3500 to $15000 Media Centers with a cool names like Denali, Rainier and K2? Plus the cost of the TV to take advantage of them?

MythTV for me.
Posted by Whatsizface (7 comments )
Link Flag
Move in the right direction but more needed
Like smaller keyboards with small half-sized vga lcds in them. The form factor for this is good and is one of the reasons people don't make them the center of their entertainment rooms.
There are still hurdles to come but this is a good concept.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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