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Intel pushing back launch of TV chip

Yet more delays as market not right

Intel's LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) high-definition television chips first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January will not be released in time for next year's show, as scheduled.

The chips, code-named Cayley, were expected to be available in digital televisions by the end of this year, according to a speech given by Intel President and COO Paul Otellini in January. But Cayley has become the latest product at Intel with a revised launch schedule, and the technology won't be released this year, according to Shannon Love, an Intel spokeswoman.

"Based on customer feedback, we chose not to bring the current product into the market. We're heading down a path of developing technology that will give clear product differentiation with improved picture quality," Love said.

Intel has developed a 1Mp version of the Cayley chip and shipped samples of those chips to television vendors, said Richard Doherty, research director at The Envisioneering Group in Seaford, New York.

However, Texas Instruments (TI) currently owns the market for 1Mp digital televisions with its DLP (digital light processing) technology, Doherty said. Several vendors have high-definition rear-projection televisions in the market with TI's technology, and Intel and its television customers would have a tough time making any headway in an established market, he said.

Instead, Intel has a better chance of getting traction by releasing a low-cost 2Mp version of Cayley before TI launches a similar product, Doherty said. Intel is working on a 2Mp chip that can slide right into the 1Mp televisions that Intel's television customers have already designed and qualified, while TI's 2Mp DLP technology is expected to use a more complicated design.

Intel's Love declined to comment on the company's current or future LCOS products.

Cayley is expected to become part of Intel's plan to dominate the digital home. Not content with supplying the majority of the world's processors for desktops, notebooks, and servers, Intel also wants to put its technology inside future consumer electronics products such as digital televisions, wireless media networking devices and handheld multimedia devices.

Intel expects its LCOS technology to have the same effect on digital televisions that its PC chip technology had on the PC market. Otellini told CES attendees that Cayley would help lower the cost of a 50in rear-projection digital television to around $1,800 in 2005 (£980). That same 50in television currently costs about $3,000 (£1,630).

But Intel has struggled in bringing products to market this year. Its first 90-nanometer chips for desktops and notebooks were delayed. The launch of its next-generation desktop chipset resulted in a recall. Customers using the company's latest server chipset won't be able to immediately take advantage of PCI Express, a new interconnect technology pushed by Intel for years, due to a bug discovered right before that product's launch.

And to top it all off, Intel's flagship product won't reach the clock speeds promised by Otellini last year. The company said the Pentium 4 processor would reach 4GHz this year, but that date has also been pushed back amid concerns about power leakage and shortages of Intel's 3.6GHz Pentium 4 processors.

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