Feeds

Intel bungs PC on an SD: Tiny computer for Internet of Things and wearables

Edison is x86 giant's latest attempt to cope with an ARM world

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

CES 2014 Intel has put a PC into an SD card-sized casing. Dubbed Edison, the micro-microcomputer marks the chip giant’s first attempt to address the emerging wearable computing business; part of its strategy to cope with a world where punters buy far fewer traditional personal computers.

Or, more specifically, where ARM and not Intel is the dominant processor platform.

Edison is based on Intel’s Quark chip, which it launched last year as its attempt to muscle in on that other flavour-of-the-month market: the so-called Internet of Things. It also reflects the company’s new-found keenness on the "maker" community.

Quark, a 32-bit low-power x86 processor, sits inside Intel’s Arduino-compatible Raspberry Pi-alike Galileo board computer. Edison takes the same chip, connects it to a wee bit of LPDDR2 memory and Flash storage, and plugs in Bluetooth 4.0 Smart - aka LE - and Wi-Fi for broader connectivity.

Intel Edison

While Edison is based on the established SD card form-factor, Intel hasn’t confirmed the card uses the storage format’s electrical interface. We assume it does: there would be little point in adopting the SD card size and shape if developers couldn’t fit a low-cost SD card slot onto their project boards to take the Intel card.

Intel’s approach is identical to that of Anglo-American Internet of Things startup Electric Imp, which has been offering an SD card-sized device for almost a year. Unlike Edison, the ARM-based Imp, in either its slot-in SD card or solder-on form, lacks Bluetooth Smart for device-to-device connectivity. Instead, it uses Wi-Fi to connect code running on the card to web- or app-based user interfaces via the firm’s servers.

Indeed, that’s a key aspect Edison lacks: a dedicated server infrastructure developers - be they individual makers, small startups or even major OEMs - can leverage to link IoT hardware embedded in their products to apps on users’ phones, tablets or traditional computers.

To be fair, Edison is aimed more at the wearables market than IoT applications, though its form-factor makes it suitable for both. In any case, Imp is available now; Edison won’t be available, Intel said, until the summer.

Edison was unveiled yesterday during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote. He also whipped out various wearable reference designs, including a Bluetooth headset to communicate with phones’ personal assistant apps, such as Siri and Google Now, and a pair of earphones with integrated biometric sensors. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.