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Intel goes small with Quark SoC for wearable computers

David Ludlow
10 Sep 2013
Intel Quark
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Wants to enable the internet of things and introduce wearable computers with Quark SoC

Intel has launched its tiny Quark SoC, which it hopes will be used to internet-enable any object (the internet of things) and help create a new range of wearable computers.

Sitting below the Atom range, the Quark SoC is 1/5th the size of Atom and requires just 1/10th of the power. According to Intel, it's designed for applications where size and low-power are more important than raw power.

With the company already having demonstrated low-power chips for laptops and tablets and its new Merrifield smartphone SoC, Quark shows how Intel wants to, in the words of CEO Brian Krzanich, "lead in every segment of computing".

More accurately, it could be seen that Intel's new tablet and smartphone SoCs are an attempt to catch up with ARM, while Quark directly competes with ARM's embedded line-up, the Cortex-M and Cortex-R.

At the moment, Intel is starting to sample reference boards towards the end of the year to partners. As Quark is designed as a customisable and open platform, Intel is hoping to see it used for a wide-range of different applications, from the internet of things to wearable computers.

Renee James, president of Intel, demonstrated a patch that could be used for real-time health monitoring. Looking like a standard plaster, it's considerably smaller and more convenient to wear than the current range of monitors, which typically have to be clipped on to your clothes.

This also ties in neatly with Intel's idea that customised health care can help to save lives.

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