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Intel expands portfolio to target IoT, cloud

Posted: 09 Nov 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel  IoT  processor  cloud  data centre 

Geared to grab a larger share of the Internet of Things (IoT) market, Intel announced its first processor in years that is not compatible with its x86 architecture. Additionally, a small company in Sweden revealed that it is working on another Intel IoT chip. The two inputs were among several glimpses into the PC giant's efforts focused on IoT.

Intel offered Yanzi, a five-year-old building automation company outside Stockholm, a chance to work with it on the development of Atlas Peak, the code name for the Quark SE SoC was announced recently. The company has 20 deployments in Sweden and was using Intel's first Quark processor (the X1000) in its access points and Intel Xeon chips in its gateways.

Yanzi jumped at the chance, liking Intel's idea of embedding into the chip a pattern-matching block for analytics processing at the edge. Along the way Yanzi engineers spent a month this summer porting a 6LoWPAN stack to Intel's chip, and Intel engineers helped design a prototype board for Yanzi's next motion-sensor node.

"A pattern-matching engine can identify more accurately analogue events such as whether motion is from left-to-right or right-to-left or if someone is standing or sitting, it's practical," said Lars Ramfelt, CTO for Yanzi.

Lars Ramfelt

Lars Ramfelt, CTO of Yanzi, shows a motion sensor it developed as part of work with Intel on its Atlas Peak version of Quark.

The company uses a range of proprietary and ARM-based MCUs from Silicon Labs, ST and others in its existing sensor nodes. "We haven't found anyone else with integrated pattern matching," Ramfelt said, noting not all devices need the capability.

The Quark SE is the chip used on Intel's previously announced Curie module. It is only available as a module because the chip is too small to cost-effectively mount to a board. Intel will re-package the chip into a 144-pin BGA for volume production next year.

For its part, Yanzi will use the SE chip in some of its sensor nodes next year when it plans to release products for the first time in the U.S. Ramfelt would like to see future Quark chips build in support for the 802.15.4 and low-power WiFi networks Yanzi uses.

Intel does plan to have integrated connectivity in next-gen Quark chips, but Dipti Vichini, a Texas Instruments product manager who became head of Intel's Quark group six months ago declined to say which networks they will support.

Yanzi also plans to add support for the Thread transport protocol to its products because "in the future there will be a lot of Thread devices we can interoperate with," Ramfelt said.

The Yanzi CTO is less concerned with the current fragmented array of application level protocols for IoT.

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