Intel took a potshot at Apple's iMac this week when it demonstrated prototypes of pyramid shaped PCs designed to be attractive in the home.
Working with a design agency, Ziba, Intel has come up with laboratory models in various non-traditional shapes, aiming to have aesthetic appeal and to integrate into a home environment through links to stereos and other devices.
The models include the Aztec, which is shaped like a ziggurat or stepped pyramid; the Tetris, a twisted mini-tower; the clamshell-like Castia; and the Beta, modelled on a vase.
There were two serious technological points being made behind all this design. One was the impending death of the serial port, the other close integration with consumer electronics.
Intel aimed to show that replacing the trusty serial port with the new Universal Serial Bus and other connections allows PC design to be flexible and user friendly. The Aztec features a USB port for peripherals and an IEEE 1394 connection - a new technology for linking consumer devices such as camcorders, VCRs and stereos.
Also on the consumer front, the flat top of the Aztec ziggurat was made from a DVD player.
Most new PCs still feature serial ports alongside USB, but Intel argues that replacing the older technology entirely with USB allows PC makers to use smaller power supplies and fans, cutting the size of the circuit board in four and so opening up new design possibilities.
Many Asian companies are working on new shapes of low cost, home oriented PCs and Intel expects a wave of such machines to hit the streets in the middle of next year.
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