Intel maps out 'Net plan

A processor-intensive road map for the development of the Internet will be unveiled by Intel on later this month.

A processor-intensive road map for the development of the Internet will be unveiled by Intel on later this month, when the company outlines products, strategies and alliances aimed at extending the Intel architecture across the World Wide Web.

Central to the announcements will be Intel's plans for implementing streaming video over the Internet, hybrid application development and support for 64-bit PCI, say sources familiar with the company's plans.

As part of its streaming-video support, Intel is also expected to announce plans for integrating its ProShare videoconferencing and compression technologies with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, NetMeeting and ActiveMovie offerings.

Neither Intel nor Microsoft is commenting on the specific agenda of Intel's Internet Media Symposium, scheduled for July 24, but sources say the two companies will show the integration of Intel's key multimedia technologies with similar products being developed by Microsoft.

Specifically, Intel will provide videoconferencing capabilities for Microsoft's NetMeeting software using its ProShare technology, sources say. Although Microsoft is working on its own video capabilities for NetMeeting, those won't be available until late this year or early next year.

The result of the collaboration is expected to be an integrated package from both companies that can support streaming of real-time video over the Internet. This would provide resolutions as high as 640 x 480 pixels and 30-frame-per-second speeds using the H.324 protocol. That protocol is designed to support video over private and public exchanges.

A version designed to work over standard telephone lines and 28.8k/bit/s modems will also be unveiled at the same time, although the frame rate is expected to be less than 16 frames per second, sources say. Intel will boost the speed of the H.323-based technology in 1997 with services that add improved compression algorithms and tunneling technologies designed to give standard telephone users a virtual form of dedicated access to a Web site -- speeding data transfer rates across the Internet.

Intel's hybrid software development strategy is designed to offer users media-rich content on the client side when downloading new and interactive information from the Web, sources say.

Although Intel has talked before about its plans for hybrid applications -- which would require more processing power and a more robust OS than the network computer specification -- it is expected to announce third-party ISV support and demonstrate applications at the symposium, sources says.

Besides Microsoft, Intel's featured guests are expected to include Adobe Systems and Macromedia, sources say.

To help support these bandwidth-intensive applications, Intel is also expected to announce its support for the 64-bit PCI 2.1 specification, at least for multimedia servers. Although Intel is officially cool to the idea of 64-bit PCI, the company will get behind the efforts of server vendors that plan to introduce the technology in product demonstrations by spring Comdex, sources say.

Among the companies expected to embrace the wider PCI specification, which provides for a single bus that can transfer data at 234Mbit/s, are Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and IBM. The wider I/O specification will help companies compete against Unix and legacy servers, says Richard Doherty, founder of the market research company Envisioneering, in Seaford, New York. Although the wider bandwidth of 64-bit PCI will be used primarily to bring broadcast video to Pentium Pro-based servers, it will also allow the Web servers to process more requests from more users faster, Doherty says.

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