Intel is betting on Tizen and Atom marriage for smart TVs

tizen Intel is betting on Tizen and Atom marriage for smart TVs

With Intel having lost its opportunity with Google TV, the company is now re-focusing its efforts in the smart TV business towards its own Linux operating system – no not MeeGo, but rather Tizen. There will be a smart TV specific version called Tizen TV which will run on Intel's CE range of Atom processors, but the question is if it'll be good enough to compete with Google TV on ARM.

Tizen Intel is betting on Tizen and Atom marriage for smart TVs

With Intel having lost its opportunity with Google TV, the company is now re-focusing its efforts in the smart TV business towards its own Linux operating system – no not MeeGo, but rather Tizen. There will be a smart TV specific version called Tizen TV which will run on Intel's CE range of Atom processors, but the question is if it'll be good enough to compete with Google TV on ARM.

The interesting thing here is that much of Tizen TV will be open source, so in that way it should be similar to Google TV. Intel will of course be the ones providing the major hardware components, but as Intel doesn't make TV-tuners, at least not to our knowledge, some third parties will have to be involved as well.

There are some core blocks to Tizen TV which include the open source core services, web run-time and native application runtime. Some of the TV services such as remote input and the unified multi-media services core blocks will also be open source, but key parts like being able to watch broadcast content, video on demand and the various DRM technologies required to do so are of course not open source and will all be third party implementations.

The web runtime will be based on Chromium and it means that Tizen TV will support HTML5 among other things. It also means that we should see OpenGL ES support in addition to hardware accelerated support for various graphics, audio, video and security applications, many which has yet to be specified, but Intel is apparently working on bringing hardware accelerated Adobe Flash support to the Tizen TV platform, as well as support for Blu-ray playback.

Intel is hoping to provide its partners with its hardware, Tizen TV and some developer tools and SDK's and then expects its partners to come up with their own UI, applications and other value add bits of software as well as being responsible for things like security features and system management. It's most definitely the easy way out for Intel, as the company provides none of the tricky parts that can make or break a Tizen TV powered smart TV or set top box.

As we reported back in October, Intel is still pushing its CE range of Atom processors and the CE4100 family now consists of six models of which two has Hyperthreading and a pair of models are even clocked at 1.6GHz, compared to 1.2GHz for earlier models. The CE4200 family has even more products as there are no less than 12 different models here, again with clock speeds of either 1.2 or 1.6GHz, although only three of the 12 features Hyperthreading.

That said, Intel is getting ready to launch its Berryville (no, that's not a joke) range of 32nm Atom CE processors sometime this quarter, but more on those later. What is clear is that Intel has no intention of letting the ARM based competition get an easy win in this growing market segment, something that will be even clearer when Intel's Berryville Atom CE processors arrive. The question is if Tizen will be enticing enough for Intel's potential partners to move away from whatever platform they're currently using. There's also the question of cost and here ARM based solutions have had a big lead over Intel, so it'll be interesting to see how things change here as we transition towards more demanding HD video usage scenarios.

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