Intel has giant plans for 2006, and will introduce them at the Consumer Electronics Show during a keynote speech on January 5.

Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini will speak at 4.30pm (12.30am UK time) that day. The company has confirmed he'll focus on digital content; the new Intel Viiv family of digital convergence and entertainment devices; and the company's next-generation dual-core mobile processors (Napa).

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to deliver his keynote speech at Macworld Expo on January 10 at 9pm (5pm UK time).

The digital hub reborn

"The way people view entertainment and share information is transforming as increasingly digital content is delivered on-demand through the Internet," Intel said in a statement. "Working with the respective leaders in the computing, communications and entertainment industries, Intel will show its most advanced consumer-related technologies and platforms along with a wide range of digital movies, TV, music, games and photographs that are arriving on Intel-based PCs, laptops and hand-held devices."

Apple is at the forefront of firms delivering integrated solutions for what Jobs calls "the digital hub". From including a DVD burner as standard to being the first computer maker to include WiFi as standard through its AirPort, the company has set the bar for such development.

Intel/Apple Notebooks likely

Apple is understood to be struggling to make improvements to its notebook computers, following IBM's strategic decision not to focus effort on porting G5 processors to such form factors. This may have led to Apple's long-mooted decision to shift to Intel. But Apple notebook lovers may see first fruits of the Intel/Apple pact early next year.

At CES, Intel's will launch its next-generation dual-core mobile platform, codenamed Napa, based on the Yonah chip, and part of its Centrino family.

The processor offers several advantages that may eventually reach Apple's notebooks as that company moves to Intel processors next year. The timing of the launch may be key to predicting the roadmap.

Intel says that: "More than 200 systems are slated for introduction throughout 2006". The platform offers low power consumption combined with boosts to graphics and wireless performance.

"Using Intel mobile technology-based laptop PCs, people can immerse themselves more fully in music, games and high-definition movies, TV, and video," the company promises.

Keith Kresslin, director of mobile platforms marketing at Intel discussed the new Yonah processor this week. He said: "You will be able to do a Skype voice call while playing video games," and promised 68 per cent better performance for Intel-powered laptops.

"Laptops and small desktop computers featuring Yonah are also scheduled to come out at the same time as the chip," promises ZDNet UK.

Apple isn't likely to relinquish its reputation for being first to market with new technologies.

Mac mini Viiv in Q1

The first quarter of 2006 should also see the debut of Viiv PCs, Intel promised. Intel's Viiv family integrates a number of technologies designed to support the notion of a front room computer. They are built for low power requirements, fast or instant start-up and with a built-in capacity to stream content around the home.

Intel has also been working with key content companies who are signing up to the Viiv dream. TiVO, British Sky Broadcasting, Telecom Italia, Virgin and Adobe Systems are all known to have agreed to support the new technology.

Recent rumours have suggested Apple will launch a significantly upgraded Mac mini integrating home multimedia capabilities at Macworld Expo, San Francisco next month.