Intel VIIV vs. AMD LIVE!
Late in 2005, Intel launched their Viiv program. Designed around the notion of "digital entertainment", the Viiv initiative was intended to bring the PC out of the office and into any room in the household, but more specifically the living room.
Much like the company did with Centrino, Intel's Viiv is a branding and not an actual product. Viiv is a certification that a given level and combination of hardware is present within a particular system. Intel lists the key components to a Viiv compatible system as follows:
Intel's VIIV Specification
Referencing the table above, we see that Intel's Viiv covers the major keystone pieces of hardware, though not much more. Aside from specifying a multi-core processor, the only other piece of hardware which has any constraint is the chipset. This is critical as Intel has a specific version of their popular ICH7 southbridge made for this purpose. The ICH7-DH (Digital Home) is equipped with Intel's "Quick Resume" feature which allows the system to fall into a standby mode of sorts. Here, the sound is muted and video stops being sent to the monitor. The one and only exception to this is the 945GM mobile chipset which still retains Viiv certification despite not using the ICH7-DH southbridge.
Aside from these two constraints, the only other major characteristic is the presence of either Microsoft Media Center 2005, Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate as a bundled operating system. As a result, there is a wide variety of configurations which can fall within the Viiv-capable certification which may or may not prove capable of providing a positive multimedia experience.
Those looking for more details regarding this platform can reference Intel's Viiv Technology Entertainment Showcase. This website illustrates the various functions of the platform and showcases the latest media which can be viewed using a Viiv-based system.