Intel's New Chip Could Turn PCs into Video Recorders

Chip makers continue to up the ante as computers and television converge. Intel Corporation has announced the Pentium III, the latest in its famous line of high-speed microprocessors. The new chip, which will replace the highly regarded Pentium II, has been optimized for audio/video, graphics, and data communication with the addition of 70 new instruction codes. It will run at a basic clock rate of 450-500 MHz---fast enough to process high-definition television signals.

In a related development certain to provoke concern in the film and television industries, San Francisco's Ligos Technology, a subsidiary of Integrated Data Systems of Savannah, Georgia, has developed GoMotion software for computers equipped with the new chips. GoMotion enables PCs to function as high-resolution video recorders and digital editing machines. As of last week, three of the top ten computer manufacturers had signed licenses with Ligos, who developed the technology with the help of a team of Russian émigrés.

According to Peter Foreman, Ligos' CEO, the Russians came up with the mathematical formulas needed to simplify video-processing operations within the computer. Prior to the Pentium III, specialty video-processing chips were required to manipulate video, considerably increasing the cost to users.

One possible outcome of the Pentium III/GoMotion development is the proliferation of low-budget (and possibly high-quality) productions from previously unknown companies. Another potentiality is the growth of alternative channels of video distribution similar to the MP3 audio phenomenon. A third likely possibility is widespread piracy of mainstream DVDs. No mention of encryption or copy-prevention technology was made in the Intel announcement.