Intel is shuttering its Digital Home Group in what could trigger a sea change in TV media hubs. New details unveiled just late Monday to AnandTech had it keeping the pure embedded set-top box business but dropping the full-scale Digital TV business responsible for some of its lowest-power Atom processors. Staff would be rolled into Intel's recently established tablet group.
The deal would effectively phase out the division responsible for the processors used in the Boxee Box and every Google TV-based device so far. As such, both sides will likely want or need to switch to ARM processors to get the performance they want.
Intel may get two benefits from leaving the category. Putting more staff into its tablet group would help close the rapidly widening gap between sales of Intel- and ARM-based tablets like the iPad. Although most of the blame has been pinned on Microsoft's lack of a real touch-native Windows interface until next year, Intel tablets have usually had half the battery life and added considerably more bulk, cost, and noise.
Quitting may also be an admission that its technology hasn't helped in the digital media realm. Using an Atom chip requires conventional PC expenses and was partly responsible for pumping up the price of Logitech's Revue Google TV box to $300 and the Boxee Box to $200. ARM hubs like the Apple TV cost $100 or less but can often accomplish many if not all of the same feats in a smaller, quieter device.