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Quark chip

New chips could power the Internet of Things

The future just got a little bit closer with Intel's announcement that it is working on the Quark X1000 processor family, designed specifically to power the Internet of Things. The first Quark chip reference boards should start to see the light of day by the end of the year, though it may take longer for them to actually start appearing in devices.

The availability of a low-power, tiny core for sensors and devices may accelerate the growth of a world where everything is intelligent and connected. In fact, Machina Research, a machine-to-machine advisory group, predicts that within the next eight years, the number of connected devices will top 50 billion worldwide. That prediction was made before the Intel announcement, which could drive the numbers higher more quickly.

The world envisioned by Machina, and likely now Intel, sees sensors and processors inside almost everything, from doors that report how many times they are opened to streetlights that can detect faulty bulbs to roads that know when potholes are forming. Many of these devices will be able to take some type of actions on their own, like ordering supplies or even making repairs without the need for human intervention. They will communicate with one another using sparse data in the form of machine-to-machine (M2M) code. And it looks like that intelligent back end could be powered by the new Quark chips.

Many of these intelligent sensors could one day find their way into government service, where they might become part of creating smarter places to live and work. 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 Intel President Renée 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.."

The Intel effort to push into this area could certainly make smart cities a reality more quickly, though other companies like ARM have been working with tiny computing devices and already have chips installed inside millions of microcontrollers.

In any case, the world where machines can interact with each other, take actions and even heal themselves without human help is coming. This week's events may just accelerate the transformation.

Posted by John Breeden II on Sep 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM


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