Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will reveal its plans Wednesday to brand AMD-based PCs designed specifically for home media networking, the company said.

AMD will announce an alliance with set-top box chip maker STMicroelectronics and unveil the AMD Live! brand Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show, said Hal Speed, marketing architect at AMD. The companies want to make it easier for consumers to blend content available over cable and satellite broadcast networks with content delivered over the Internet to PCs, he said.

Convergence drives divergent approaches

CES is showcasing multiple home convergence strategies, with PC makers talking up the vision of a home media network with the computer as a hub while others put everything from games consoles to televisions at the future entertainment core.

Media Center PCs and high-definition televisions have finally started to ship in larger volumes, but connecting such devices isn't always easy even for tech-savvy users. AMD's idea is to start small, working on developing PCs that work closely with set-top boxes so consumers can connect their PCs and their televisions, Speed said.

Around the middle of this year, PCs will start to appear with AMD's Live! brand, Speed said. This will mean those PCs are powerful enough to handle multimedia applications and capable of providing the so-called "ten-foot experience," he said.

Intel and Apple ready to rock

AMD's announcement comes as Intel prepares to unveil its own digital home strategy at CES. Intel CEO Paul Otellini is expected Thursday to introduce Viiv PCs, the second major brand to emerge from Intel's new "platform" marketing strategy.

Intel doesn't just want to make processors anymore, it wants to provide all the silicon and embedded software needed to run a modern PC. The first iteration of this strategy, its Centrino mobile technology, has been so successful Intel plans to try again with Viiv.

Like Centrino, Intel's PC partners will be able to take advantage of the marketing and advertising resources Intel plans to put behind the Viiv brand so long as they include an assortment of Intel components in their PCs. This includes a dual-core Intel processor, Intel chipsets designed specifically for home media applications, and Intel networking chips.

Consumer electronics consolidation

Viiv will be a formidable foe for AMD's Live! brand, as Intel's marketing budget far exceeds AMD's. But AMD thinks it can gain traction with the brand by emphasising the freedom vendors have to choose components for their PCs and undertaking a collaborative approach with the consumer electronics industry, Speed said.

"We're not trying to cannibalise the [consumer electronics] industry. We want them to tap into the PC. No single company can do this themselves," Speed said.

AMD is working with several different PC companies on AMD Live! PCs, but Speed declined to specify which companies plan to launch PCs with the brand.