From wearable technology to $100 tablets to city infrastructure, Intel plans to puts its chips in almost everything. And Moore's Law lives.
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Intel's processors once dominated the computing landscape, but the company has been under pressure as chips based on the rival ARM architecture have become the preferred engine for not only mobile devices, but also a new breed of data center technologies.
At this week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, CEO Brian Krazanich outlined how the company plans to maintain its stature. The speech marked his first major appearance since succeeding Paul Otellini in May, and his message was, in a sense, simple: Intel intends to put a chip in almost everything.
Krazanich stressed that the company is still committed to innovation in the floundering PC space. He also argued that new manufacturing processes will help the company catch up to ARM in the mobile space. But his keynote address also emphasized wearable technology and the Internet of Things. How will this vision change Intel's trajectory? Here are four takeaways from Intel's IDF presentation.
1. Quark is a new line of processors designed for wearable technology and the Internet of Things.
Quark, which Krazanich introduced for the first time this week, is one-fifth the size of Intel's low-power Atom processors, which are used in mobile devices. With such tiny dimensions, the chip is designed to be an ultra energy-efficient component in wearable products and connected devices.
Krazanich and Intel president Renée James argued that the technology could be paradigm-changing. Doctors currently rely on isolated tests to gauge patient health, but a wearable product could provide a perpetual stream of information, leading to better and earlier detection of diseases. A city could likewise benefit by embedding sensors in its infrastructure and using collected data to better understand traffic flows, environmental pollutants and other complex variables that affect governance. Intel has worked on ideas like this before, but at IDF, where the CEO showed off Intel reference designs for wearable devices, Quark opened up a new chapter.
Intel isn't the only one who has this vision, however; Cisco executives have repeatedlytalked about the same opportunities. Forrester Research, meanwhile, has said wearable technology could be as game changing as the iPhone. Although the potential effects of connected devices might be clear, Intel's place in it is still hazy. One question is how manufacturers will take advantage of Quark chips. Intel said that unlike ARM, it will not license Quark's core CPU; instead, it will provide hooks to which companies can attach their own IP.
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