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Intel challenges ARM with new Quark chips for wearables; shows off Bay Trail, Broadwell

Mark Hachman | Sept. 11, 2013
Yes, Intel has plans for wearable computing.

Yes, Intel has plans for wearable computing.

Intel used its Intel Developer Forum here on Tuesday to launch the Quark family of devices, a synthesizable family of embedded devices designed for embedded applications like industrial designs and wearable computing, which Intel executives said will be built by third-party partners, not Intel itself.

Intel also began setting the stage for "Bay Trail," a new generation of Atom processors that will appear in a variety of products, like phones, tablets and convertible tablets. Intel also showed off a PC running Broadwell, Intel's next-generation processor technology; launched a new Xeon chip; and showed off a low-power fourth-generation Core processor, known as Haswell, that doesn't require a fan. Finally, Intel also showed off phones with its next-generation 22-nm mobile silicon, plus LTE communications technology.

The Intel Developer Forum was the first for Intel's new chief executive, Brian Krzanich, who was named to the top spot this past June. Renee James, who was a frequent speaker as Intel's software chief, was named president at the same time.

"Our strategy is really pretty simple: we plan to lead in every segment of computing," Krzanich said, including, servers, PCs, tablets, phones, and beyond to wearables, he said.

Krzanich's job is to oversee the transition between Intel's traditional strengths in the PC and server business, and to a slightly lesser extent, in the mobile PC market as well. Analysts have predicted that the PC will slowly decline, however, as consumers turn to ultraportable devices: two-in-one ultraportable machines, true tablets, and smartphones.

Perhaps telling is that an agenda Intel provided to reporters before the start of the show didn't include any press conferences specifically focusing on Intel's Core PC microprocessors. Instead, Intel's emphasis is on the datacenter, where the vast majority of servers ship with Intel's Xeon inside, and on a new Atom chip code-named Bay Trail for tablets one of a family of "Silvermont" chips aimed at everything from microservers to, eventually, in-car entertainment systems.

And Krzanich took to the message with gusto. "Transitions to mobile will be good for the industry, good for Intel and good for Intel's developers," Krzanich said.

Beyond the PC
Krzanich began by talking about the data center, which Intel attacked last week with its Avoton and Rangeley chips, both Atom based processors designed for the datacenter. Krzanich said that Intel would announce the Xeon Z5, the more traditional "Big Iron" silicon that powers most of the world's servers. For her part, James said that applications like personal healthcare will require massive amounts of data; for example, one person's genome requires a petabyte of data. But institutions like the Knight Institute have found success in tailoring cancer treatments to specific genetic factors, and Intel fellow Eric Dishman appeared on stage to tell the audience that genomic sequencing of his cancer had allowed his doctors to successfully treat it.


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