SAN JOSE, Calif. — It's great PR for both Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Arduino founder Massimo Banzi to stand together on the stage of Maker Faire Rome and talk about a collaboration. Time will tell whether that excellent marketing moment turns into real business for either gentleman.
Krzanich is stepping hard on the gas to overcome Intel's biggest blunder ever: missing the smartphone market. His announcement in September of a microcontroller-class x86 called Quark and his new collaboration with the DIY Arduino crowd mark two efforts to make sure Intel does not miss the next, next big thing, whatever it is.
It's not clear if Arduino or even the larger DIY and Internet of Things movements are the next, next big thing. But they might be, so Krzanich is placing Intel's flag there, just in case. It reminds me of someone whose strategy is to buy every property they land on in Monopoly -- not to touch a sore spot for the chip giant that still dominates the PC market.
The big news about Intel's Arduino-compatible Galileo board is it provides a little more information about the mysterious Quark chip on it. Intel said it is the Quark SoC X1000, a 32-bit, single core, single-threaded, Pentium instruction set architecture operating at speeds up to 400 MHz and designed in Ireland.
Previously the chip did not have a public name or any specs. It still lacks a full datasheet although the board at least has an extensive FAQ.
The Galileo boards Intel will start selling in November are just a tad high end for the DIY crowd at $60 each. They come with PCI Express, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet, and USB 2.0. In a video, Krzanich said a conversation just 60 days ago made him realize Intel needs to be part of the Arduino ecosystem. The company has plans for at least one or two more Arduino boards, he said.
Intel said the first Quark is a 32-bit, Pentium-class single-threaded, single-core SoC.
Intel said the first Quark is a 32-bit, Pentium-class single-threaded, single-core SoC. Intel said the first Quark is a 32-bit, Pentium-class single-threaded, single-core SoC. At this point, Microchip or Renesas might want to welcome Intel to the microcontroller market they have led for many years. It remains to be seen whether Intel's Quark-based Galileo board offers anything beyond what these and many other companies have been supplying for a long time.
Nevertheless, this is a huge move for Intel in the opposite of its usual direction toward ever faster, more powerful processors. The shift points to a new reality: These days there may be more new apps at the low end of the microprocessor market than at the high end.
Krzanich is not alone in courting the DIY and IoT movements. Texas Instruments announced the same day its GHz-class Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex A8 processor powers the new Arduino TRE. Clearly it too wants to ride a wave of designs running on low cost boards like Arduino and its own Arduino-inspired Beagle board.