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New Quark family consumes 1/10th the power of Atom, targets

While Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is dominating the headlines today with the announcement of its iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S -- the latter of which is powered by a mobile industry first 64-bit ARM Holdings Plc (LON:ARM) architecture chip -- ARM's arch nemesis Intel Corp. (INTC) was strutting its stuff at day one of the 2013 Intel Developer Forum at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.

I. Quark -- the Third Consumer Pillar

Among the highest profile announcements in a packed keynote was the unveil of Quark, a new family of low-powered system-on-a-chip designs.  Intel was light on technical details, but it revealed that Quark would target the "internet of things" market.

The new Intel chips join the Core and Atom brands, as a fourth major family of consumer chips.  Intel is aiming them at wearables, consumer appliances, biomonitoring devices.  Reference boards will be available to partners in Q4 2013.

Internet of Things
Intel believes the buzz on the "internet of things". [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

The new chips are one fifth the surface area of a typical Atom chip and consume one tenth the power.

Quark chips
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich unveils the upcoming Quark SoC family.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Intel views lightweight processors as a key emerging market, and is eager not to miss the boat this time around, as it did in the mobile space.  Comments new CEO Brian Krzanich, "Our strategy is actually very simple.  Our plan is to lead in every segment of computing."

II. Quark Smartwatches in 2014?

With the market currently buzzing about smartwatches, including Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy Gear, Intel is eyeing the emerging wearable market with hungry eyes.  Its CEO boasts, "Yes, we're working on wearables, we have wearables."

Intel did not reveal the architecture for the platform.  Some have speculated that Intel may be using some derivative of lightweight licensable instruction sets like ARM or MIPS.  I feel the MIPS route is more plausible as Imagination Technologies Group Plc (LON:IMG) is actively hunting for licensing partners, and it would be less of a blow to Intel's image than embracing ARM.  One thing's for sure -- Quark will compete with ARM's Cortex-M intellectual property cores (IP cores).

SoC in hand
Samples of the Quark X1000 ship to partners in Q4 2013.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Intel says the design is "fully synthesizable", meaning it can be tweaked to partner needs asked whether the architecture could potentially be produced at cheaper third party fabs, Mr. Krzanich responded affirmatively, but clarifed that for now Intel's plan was to keep Quark "within Intel."

Among the devices powered by Quark shown included a smartwatch reference design and a prototype of a patch that monitors blood pressure and EKG readings, from a company called mc10, a Cambridge, Mass. startup supported by Medtronic, Inc. (MDT).  Intel also said that it had reference injectable and ingestable (swallowable)

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Coolest news of the day!
By CaedenV on 9/10/2013 6:34:28 PM , Rating: 3
I am very curious about this new chip and can't wait to learn more! I can't imagine that Intel is going to pay money to lease MIPS, and after what they have said about ARM it would be a bitter pill to swallow to lease their work. So I am betting that they are going back to a much simpler x86 set, or else they are designing something from scratch.

Current gen Atoms eat between 6.1-8.1W, so that would put these between .6-.9W for power usage. We are talking about 2-3x the power requirement for a solar calculator here, except that it is a whole SoC. That is insanely low wattage.

Forget about the wearable market. If intel wants to make money then they need to start pushing this for smart home equipment. All that we need is a cheap secure standard to get the cost and paranoia down. That could be a much larger market than any wearable equipment could ever be.

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By talonvor on 9/10/2013 7:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
That's very true and it might be worth the effort of developing the OS for them. O personally would think it's awesome if my fridge could text me and let me know that I need to purchase milk on my way home. Then again, not many people have their fridge sorted, in fact most guys just sort of throw their food into the fridge

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By Shig on 9/10/2013 7:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
Refrigerator - Get a gallon of milk!

You - STFU refrigerator I know!

The part about an open architecture got my attention.

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By MadMan007 on 9/10/2013 8:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
Being nagged to get stuff sounds like perfect practice for marriage for the single male.

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By GulWestfale on 9/10/2013 11:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
i hope they call the flagship chip the Grand Nagus.

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By cmart on 9/11/2013 10:08:25 AM , Rating: 3
Brush: "You're losing hair! Buy some Propecia!"

Toilet: "For Pete's sake, man, eat some fiber!"

Shower: "Your hot water consumption is now 11% greater than the government-suggested green living guideline."

I'm not sure I'm ready to embrace this idea.

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By M'n'M on 9/11/2013 12:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
Toaster : Howdy-doodly-do, how's it going?
Lister : Don't answer it !
Toaster : It's fine morning. Would anyone like some toast ?
Lister : Smeg off !!
Toaster : What about a toasted teacake ?
Lister : No, no, no ! No toast of any kind. No buttered toasted, no toasted teacakes, no toasted scones. NO TOAST ! Do you understand ?
Toaster : Abso-diddly-lutely! No toast.
Toaster : How about some Spam ... on toast ?
Vikings : Spam ... Spam ... Spam ... Spam ... SPAAAAAAM

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By samthefish on 9/12/2013 8:14:37 AM , Rating: 2
It already has an OS running on it:

They purchased Wind River a few years ago who has the market leading RTOS vxWorks

RE: Coolest news of the day!
By 91TTZ on 9/11/2013 10:09:36 AM , Rating: 2
Current gen Atoms eat between 6.1-8.1W, so that would put these between .6-.9W for power usage. We are talking about 2-3x the power requirement for a solar calculator here, except that it is a whole SoC. That is insanely low wattage.

Not even close. 0.6W is WAY more power than a solar calculator draws- thousands of times more.

Without even mentioning anything cutting edge, the Sharp EL-8145 from way back in 1978 drew 0.0002W. And that wasn't even solar powered, that was a battery operated model. Newer models got so efficient that they stopped putting batteries in them and just use the solar cell.

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