IBM Develops Microchip for Set-Top Boxes

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IBM said Friday that it had developed a new chip that will bring e-commerce and interactivity to televisions much faster than anticipated. The small chip combines IBM's fastest PC processor with the technology of set-top boxes like WebTV.

Dubbed the "System on a Chip," the ultra-small chip bundles functions that previously set-top manufacturers would have to employ several companies to deliver to consumers. This means that with fewer deals to make and technologies to integrate, interactive television will be coming into homes sooner on a widespread basis.

"This chip will tremendously speed up the interactive television process," said IBM's Michael Loughran. "This is the fastest processor available on the market, and now it has interactive television functionality in one little chip."

Because the chip is so compact, set-top manufacturers will also have the room to add even more consumer-friendly features to the boxes such as a hard drive, DVD and personalized television systems like TiVo.

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