Intel Unveils Quark Chip for Wearables: 5 Times Smaller and 10 Times More Efficient Than Atom

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The age of wearable tech is upon us, and Intel has unveiled a new chip that will help usher in more powerful and innovative wearable devices. The new chip, dubbed the Quark is the smallest chip ever produced by Intel and is even small enough to be swallowed by humans to gather medical information.

“The new lower-power products will extend Intel’s reach to growing segments from the industrial Internet-of-Things to wearable computing. It is designed for applications where lower power and size take priority over higher performance.”

The Quark chip is five times smaller and ten times more efficient than Intel’s current Atom chips, and will more than likely be priced lower than the Atom chip. Intel has reportedly showed off a bracelet style gadget at IDF in San Francisco, in order to show what the chip is capable of.

Whether or not Intel decides to make its own wearable devices remains to be seen. With smartwatches from the likes of Samsung and Qualcomm hitting the market soon, there’ no doubt that Intel’s Quark chips will be popping up in wearable devices in the future.

Press release follows below.

New Intel CEO, President Outline Product Plans, Future of Computing Vision to ‘Mobilize’ Intel and Developers

Krzanich Announces New Lower-Power Product Family, Demonstrates Upcoming LTE and Lead 14nm Products

INTEL DEVELOPER FORUM, San Francisco, Sept. 10, 2013 – From datacenters to ultra-mobile devices such as tablets, phones and wearables, computing segments are undergoing exciting and even game-changing transitions, said new Intel CEO Brian Krzanich during today’s opening session of the Intel Developer Forum. Krzanich laid out Intel’s vision and described how Intel is addressing each dynamic market segment – such as accelerating Intel’s progress in ultra-mobile devices – with new products over the next year and beyond, including a new, lower-power product family.

Krzanich said Intel plans to leave no segment untapped. “Innovation and industry transformation are happening more rapidly than ever before, which play to Intel’s strengths. We have the manufacturing technology leadership and architectural tools in place to push further into lower power regimes. We plan to shape and lead in all areas of computing.”

This year’s Intel Developer Forum marked the first keynote addresses by Krzanich and Intel President Renée James since assuming their new roles in May.

In her presentation, James envisioned a new era in which every device and every object computes, meaning that integrated computing solutions must be smaller, faster, more versatile and produced in higher volume.

“Semiconductor-based technology will continue to address the world’s most pressing problems and exciting opportunities, changing how we live our lives, run our cities and care for our health,” said James. “Intel has played a pivotal role in every previous technology transition and will continue to enable breakthroughs in the future.”

Accelerating Progress in Ultra-Mobile Devices
Krzanich said that Intel this week will introduce “Bay Trail,” Intel’s first 22nm system-on-a-chip (SoC) for mobile devices. “Bay Trail” is based on the company’s new low-power, high-performance Silvermont microarchitecture, which will power a range of innovative Android* and Windows* designs, most notably tablets and 2 in 1 devices.

Defining the expanding ultra-mobile segment as smartphones, tablets, 2 in 1 tablets that take on PC functions with add-on keyboards, and other devices beyond traditional mobile computers, he said that ultra-mobiles are a more dynamic segment than is often recognized.

“Smartphones and tablets are not the end-state,” he said. The next wave of computing is still being defined. Wearable computers and sophisticated sensors and robotics are only some of the initial applications.”

As an example of how Intel will continue to use its manufacturing and architectural leadership to push further into lower power regimes, Krzanich announced the Intel Quark processor family. The new lower-power products will extend Intel’s reach to growing segments from the industrial Internet-of-Things to wearable computing. It is designed for applications where lower power and size take priority over higher performance.

Intel will sample form-factor reference boards based on the first product in this family during the fourth quarter of this year to help partners accelerate development of tailored, optimized solutions initially aimed at the industrial, energy and transportation segments.

As the next era of computing grows even more personal, wearables are a hotbed for innovation. Krzanich highlighted a bracelet as an example of a concept with reference designs under development, and said the company is actively pursuing opportunities with partners in this area.

In high-speed 4G wireless data communications, Krzanich said Intel’s new LTE solution provides a compelling alternative for multimode, multiband 4G connectivity, removing a critical barrier to Intel’s progress in the smartphone market segment. Intel is now shipping a multimode chip, the Intel® XMM™ 7160 modem, which is one of the world’s smallest and lowest-power multimode-multiband solutions for global LTE roaming.

As an example of the accelerating development pace under Intel’s new management team, Krzanich said that the company’s next-generation LTE product, the Intel® XMM™ 7260 modem, is now under development. Expected to ship in 2014, the Intel XMM 7260 modem will deliver LTE-Advanced features, such as carrier aggregation, timed with future advanced 4G network deployments. Krzanich showed the carrier aggregation feature of the Intel XMM 7260 modem successfully doubling throughput speeds during his keynote presentation.

He also demonstrated a smartphone platform featuring both the Intel XMM 7160 LTE solution and Intel’s next-generation Intel® Atom™ SoC for 2014 smartphones and tablets codenamed “Merrifield.” Based on the Silvermont microarchitecture, “Merrifield” will deliver increased performance, power-efficiency and battery life over Intel’s current-generation offering.

Intel Manufacturing Leadership
Citing continued, rapid innovation for PCs of the future, Krzanich demonstrated a 14nm-based “Broadwell” system. “Broadwell,” set to begin production by the end of this year, will be the lead product made using Intel’s 14nm manufacturing process. The first “Broadwell” products will deliver higher performance, longer battery life and low platform power points for 2 in 1 and fanless devices, Ultrabooks™ and various PC designs.

Saying that Intel will bring the full weight of its manufacturing process and architectural leadership to the Intel Atom processor family, he confirmed Intel intends to bring its Intel Atom processor and other products based on the next-generation “Airmont” microarchitecture to market on Intel’s leading-edge 14nm process technology beginning next year. Timing will vary by product segment.

As the only company offering 3-D Tri-gate transistors and the only semiconductor manufacturer in production at 22nm, Intel leads the industry in transistor technology by about three years. With its coming 14nm process, Intel’s second process generation with 3-D Tri-gate transistors, the company will further extend this lead. Advanced 3-D Tri-gate transistors enable the improved performance and energy efficiency demanded by today’s spectrum of computing that ranges from ultra-mobiles to servers.

Re-Architecting the Datacenter
Intel’s datacenter business, which generates more than $10 billion in revenues annually, develops solutions that help businesses keep pace with the increasing demands for cloud services and for managing data generated from billions of users and connected devices worldwide. Intel’s goal is to re-architect the datacenter to enable a common, software-defined foundation for both datacenters and cloud service providers that spans servers, networking, storage and security.

Intel’s newest Intel® Xeon® processor family for datacenters will launch later today; last week Intel introduced a portfolio of datacenter products and technologies, including the second generation 64-bit Intel® Atom™ C2000 product family of SoC designs for microservers and cold storage platforms (codenamed “Avoton”) as well as for entry networking platforms (codenamed “Rangeley”).

Computing to Solve the World’s Problems
In her comments, James highlighted smart cities and customized healthcare as examples of potential applications for technology that can turn computing theories into life-changing realities.

By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in megacities, according to James. Developments in semiconductor technology will further advance machine-to-machine data management in smart cities. Intel is partnering with the cities of Dublin and London to build a reference solution that could revolutionize urban management, providing citizens with better cities and improved municipal services with lower costs.

“It’s one thing to install computing power in billions of smart objects,” said James. “What we’re doing is harder — making powerful computing solutions that turn data to wisdom and search for answers to the world’s most complex problems like cancer care. What we’ve seen so far is just a glimpse of how Intel technology could be used to help heal, educate, empower and sustain the planet.”

James also highlighted Intel’s supercomputing work as one of many examples where computational ability can transform healthcare, the largest sector of the global economy. Intel is working with the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University on a project aimed at shrinking the cost and time to analyze human genetic profiles and create searchable maps of DNA in multiple dimensions.

“For the first time in modern medicine, the computing and technology side of health care is as important as the biological side,” James said. “The more computing power we can deliver at a feasible price point, the more lives are saved.”

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