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Posts tagged ‘chip’

Intel announces new Quark SoC for the internet of things

At the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich showed off a new system on a chip that’s designed for the internet of things. The Quark family of chips is one-fifth the size of the 22-nanometer Atom chips designed for smartphones, and operates at a tenth of the power. Intel says it has an “open architecture,” which boils down to Intel offering hooks in the silicon to add others’ IP blocks.

Intel does not plan to license the core itself, something analysts hoped it meant when it said it allow others to integrate their own IP with the core. As for the core Intel’s spokeswoman Caludia Mangano said that the first product in the Quark family is a synthesizable Pentium ISA compatible CPU core. It also includes a software stack that includes security, manageability and connectivity features well suited for IoT. No word on what standards might be supported in that software stack.

The key word for most analysts in that statement is synthesizable, which means that customers can add their own IP around the core. ARM for example let’s companies license its CPU core and then add their own co-processors, or other components to create chips optimized for a wide variety of projects and industries. How they would do this in practice is unclear as Mangano says that Intel plans to keep the manufacturing of the Quark SoCs in-house at Intel’s manufacturing facilities.

More info here.

Freescale’s Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body

KL0PA-keyboard-20-LR-3-660x440Chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor has created the world’s smallest ARM-powered chip, designed to push the world of connected devices into surprising places.

Announced today, the Kinetis KL02 measures just 1.9 by 2 millimeters. It’s a full microcontroller unit (MCU), meaning the chip sports a processor, RAM, ROM, clock and I/O control unit — everything a body needs to be a basic tiny computer.

The KL02 has 32k of flash memory, 4k of RAM, a 32 bit processor, and peripherals like a 12-bit analog to digital converter and a low-power UART built into the chip. By including these extra parts, device makers can shrink down their designs, resulting in tiny boards in tiny devices.

How tiny? One application that Freescale says the chips could be used for is swallowable computers. Yes, you read that right. “We are working with our customers and partners on providing technology for their products that can be swallowed but we can’t really comment on unannounced products,” says Steve Tateosian, global product marketing manager.

The KL02 is part of Freescale’s push to make chips tailored to the Internet of Things. Between the onboard peripherals and a power-management system tuned to the chemistry of current generation batteries, the KL02 is intended to be at the heart of a network of connected objects, moving from shoes that wirelessly report your steps (a natural evolution of Nike+) to pipes that warn you when they are leaking.

There are some clues we can glean about how this chip might end up inside our digestive tracts. Freescale already works with a variety of health and wellness customers. Both the Fitbit and OmniPod insulin pump use Freescale chips. It’s not hard to imagine a new generation of devices designed to monitor your internal health or release drugs and medicine from within your body. Such tiny implements, however, also creates the possibility that discarded micro-devices could soon collect in sewers and waste treatment plants.

Though Moore’s law has become largely uninteresting at the scale of desktop and laptop computers (when all you’re doing is watching videos, writing, and surfing the web, you don’t need that much power), there is still plenty of room at the bottom.

More info here.

Zigbee/802.15.4 chip comparison guide

Freaklabs published a very useful Zigbee/802.15.4 chip comparison guide. They have a first table with a comparison guide for transceiver only, and a second one for integrated MCUs + transceivers. 

The guide is available here, while a pdf version of the tables is downloadable here.