Intel Announces New Quark SOC

Jimmy Thang

Rumored x86-based processor will be super tiny and power efficient

Intel showed off what it claims is the smallest system on chip with a new line of Quark chips that are 1/5th the size of Atom SOCs and will use 1/10 the power.

The company didn’t reveal too many details of the new SOC, but said it would be open architecture, offer industry standard software support and be fully synthesizeable. The chip is presumably x86-based but because it is fully synthesizable customers would be able to customize the design with their own intellectual property.

Fully synthesizable chips also allow the chips to be fab-agnostic and could technically be made by competing foundry companies such as TSMC or even Global Foundries. New Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said while Quarks could be made elsewhere, the company expects the first chips to be  produced on Intel’s fabs. Krzanich also clarified that while customers can customize the SOC, they won’t have direct access to core itself. Additional hardware to the SOC would be done through traditional connectivity fabrics built into the Quark.

Quark SOC’s appear to be the company’s response to the increasing interest in wearable computing as well as embedded computing. Both are areas where Intel’s arch rival ARM as well as even dumber and lower cost smart controllers rule the roost.

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