The much-heralded convergence of the PC and TV markets moved a step closer after IBM announced that it will produce a range of chips to power the next generation of set-top TV boxes.
Rupert Deighton, communications manager at IBM Europe, said: "We are putting our money where our mouth is. We feel our products can be mixed and matched to the requirements of this new digital area. It will be a fearlessly contested arena. It is a box-eat-box world."
IBM claimed the technology will greatly increase the performance of current BSkyB and ONdigital features, such as Web browsing, email and home banking, while introducing new areas, including video on demand and online shopping.
Gordon Grove, marketing manager for digital TV at IBM Europe, said: "IBM's technology will offer improved features, not simply more channels."
IBM is producing three models of the technology: the STB032XX and the STB034XX, based on the PowerPC 405 and running at 108MHz and 162MHz respectively; and the STB021XX, based on the PowerPC 401 at 54MHz.
'System-on-a-chip' technology will also compress IBM's PowerPC processor, an Mpeg-2 audio/video decoder and its memory interface subsystem onto a single chip which IBM hopes will improve performance and cut prices.
PowerPC 405-based units will be available from May. The PowerPC 401-based model is planned for the second half of this year.
The vendor has also announced a generation of computer memory that doubles the bandwidth of current modules. The 184-pin Double Data Rate Ram promises faster communication between processor and memory.
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