updated 1/5/2006 10:42:20 PM ET 2006-01-06T03:42:20

Chipmaker Intel Corp. launched its Viiv entertainment PC platform Thursday and announced a slew of deals with entertainment and other tech companies to provide content for the new systems.

Viiv PC owners will be able to watch video that's stored in Google Inc.'s video service, high-definition highlights from NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics and classic TV shows from America Online. In all, Intel has signed dozens of content deals.

Viiv computers will be capable of replacing the array of standalone boxes that surround the television _ such as a digital video recorder, DVD player or cable box. Intel also says it's working to ensure a Viiv PC works seamlessly with other equipment.

By focusing on more than chips, Intel hopes its technical and marketing muscle will help make entertainment PCs easier to use _ and more appealing.

The approach is similar to the strategy Intel followed when it launched its Centrino technology for wireless notebook computers in 2003. It not only supplied the chips but also marketing support and a quality-assurance program to ensure the technology worked.

Also Thursday, Intel launched its Core Duo chip, which the company claims has lower power requirements and higher performance. The processor, which has two computing engines built into a single chip, is expected to enable smaller, living-room friendly Viiv systems and will power the next-generation mobile platform, the Centrino Duo.

"With our new platforms, we're not only boosting wireless computing, but also advancing digital entertainment a few steps closer to effortless," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during a speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Viiv-branded PCs also can be built around Intel's Pentium D or Pentium Extreme Edition processors. The company also will provide some software, but the operating system is Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Some of the options include support for a technology that allows Viiv users to quickly turn their systems on and off after the initial boot. Machines also will ship with at least 5.1 surround sound and support for high-definition video. TV capabilities are optional.

Later this year, Intel will add features that will simplify home network setups and the transfer of digital content from the PC to other devices.

Also Thursday, Intel said it's collaborating with DirecTV on a PC tuner that doesn't require a standalone satellite box. Meanwhile, DirecTV is working on set-top boxes that can share content with PCs and portable video players.

"DirecTV is providing its customers with ultimate control over how and when they enjoy their entertainment and information, which also accelerates our shared vision of delivering an easier and more secure digital entertainment experience," Otellini said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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