Published in Processors

Quark family SoC one fifth of Atom

IDF 2013: One tenth of power

Intel has just announced Quark, a new SoC family that is just one fifth of Atom in size and uses one tenth of the power. This subatomic chip is intended for ubiquitous computing, from watches to washing machines and many medical devices that people can wear.

Essentially companies such Intel wants to have as many computers possible in just about anything including headlights in your car. It creates new market and expands existing ones, hence all that hype about the internet of things.

This might be Intel’s solution to a wearable computing like smart glasses, watches and similar devices. This is also a chip for anything else in your home, including fridges and toasters, just about anything that might need some kind of microprocessor inside.

It is not like dishwashers and fridges need a really low power part, but the smart watch or glasses definitely benefit from Quark’s impressive power efficiency. Krzanich was not specific about the power consumption nor did he refer to the exact Atom he had in mind, but Quark addresses that market.

It is designed for an open environment, it can be seen as a competitor to a Raspberry Pi as Intel makes silicon but it will let software and hardware manufactures to do further design changes and customisations. Reference parts should go to developers fairly soon and Intel expects some nice things to come from this reference platform.

It definitely addresses wearable computing at the most as these devices need the smallest possible battery that can run for days, at least that is the idea.

Intel President Rene James reminded us that the first Motorola mobile phone, aka the Brick, had battery life that was measured in minutes, while today’s Intel phone offers 12 days of standby or 12 hours or talk time. Wearable devices might not need Atom performance, but do need superior battery life.

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