IDF 2013:With New "Quark" SoCs, Intel Wants You to Eat Its Chips (Literally)
September 10, 2013 2:13 PM
New Quark family consumes 1/10th the power of Atom, targets
While Apple, Inc. (
) 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
Holdings Plc (
) architecture chip -- ARM's arch nemesis Intel Corp. (
) 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 "i
nternet of things
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.
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.
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 (
, 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
. I feel the MIPS route is more plausible as Imagination Technologies Group Plc (
) 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
intellectual property cores (IP cores).
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
, a Cambridge, Mass. startup supported by Medtronic, Inc. (
). Intel also said that it had reference injectable and ingestable (swallowable)
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