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.
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