SAN JOSE,Calif. — It's great PR for both Intel CEOBrian Krzanich and Arduino founder MassimoBanzi to stand together on the stage ofMaker Faire Rome and talk about acollaboration. Time will tell whether thatexcellent marketing moment turns into realbusiness for either gentleman.
Krzanich is stepping hard on the gas toovercome Intel's biggest blunder ever:missing the smartphone market. Hisannouncement in September of amicrocontroller-class x86 called Quark andhis new collaboration with the DIY Arduinocrowd mark two efforts to make sure Inteldoes not miss the next, next big thing,whatever it is.
It's not clear if Arduino or even thelarger DIY and Internet of Things movementsare the next, next big thing. But they mightbe, so Krzanich is placing Intel's flagthere, just in case. It reminds me ofsomeone whose strategy is to buy everyproperty they land on in Monopoly — not totouch a sore spot for the chip giant thatstill dominates the PC market.
The big news about Intel'sArduino-compatible Galileo board is itprovides a little more information about themysterious Quark chip on it. Intel said itis the Quark SoC X1000, a 32-bit, singlecore, single-threaded, Pentium instructionset architecture operating at speeds up to400 MHz and designed in Ireland.
Previously the chip did not have a publicname or any specs. It still lacks a fulldatasheet although the board at least has an extensive FAQ.
The Galileo boards Intel will start sellingin November are just a tad high end for theDIY crowd at $60 each. They come with PCIExpress, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet, and USB 2.0.In a video, Krzanich said a conversationjust 60 days ago made him realize Intelneeds to be part of the Arduino ecosystem.The company has plans for at least one ortwo more Arduino boards, he said.
Intel said the first Quark is a 32-bit,Pentium-class single-threaded, single-coreSoC. Intel said the first Quark is a 32-bit,Pentium-class single-threaded, single-coreSoC. At this point, Microchip or Renesasmight want to welcome Intel to themicrocontroller market they have led formany years. It remains to be seen whetherIntel's Quark-based Galileo board offersanything beyond what these and many othercompanies have been supplying for a longtime.
Nevertheless, this is a huge move for Intelin the opposite of its usual directiontoward ever faster, more powerfulprocessors. The shift points to a newreality: These days there may be more newapps at the low end of the microprocessormarket than at the high end.
Krzanich is not alone in courting the DIYand IoT movements. Texas Instrumentsannounced the same day its GHz-class SitaraAM335x ARM Cortex A8 processor powers thenew Arduino TRE. Clearly it too wants toride a wave of designs running on low costboards like Arduino and its ownArduino-inspired Beagle board.
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