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Intel announces Edison, a computer the size of an SD card. (theverge.com)
85 points by zachlatta 1354 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite



Interesting.

The Quark core 32nm (14nm by end of 2014), x86, core power consumption under 100mW[1]. Assuming performance scales with size/transistor count, that's probably 1/5th-1/10th the performance of Atom (I'm guessing - they claim 400MHz as a max speed at launch).

That's very competitive with ARM at the same size, but ARM doesn't have this "complete computer on a board" at that size (AFAIK).

[1] http://www.anandtech.com/show/7305/intel-announces-quark-soc...


> but ARM doesn't have this "complete computer on a board" at that size (AFAIK).

Knowing the industry terminology helps: https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=arm+system+on+module


Yeah, that's not the same thing. Or rather, it could be, but usually you need to do extra work (and buy extra parts) and then order a few thousand.

To quote:

Unlike SBCs, COMs [computer-on-module] typically lack real-world ports, and extend their I/O through a connector that supports compatible carrier boards based on standards like COM Express, QSeven, and SMARC. Others use proprietary connectors, often based on a 144-pin SODIMM layout, designed to work only with the company's own carrier boards.

http://www.linux.com/news/embedded-mobile/mobile-linux/71255...

(Although, to be fair I am assuming that the original article is accurate in stating which ports are available on the Intel version)


As someone who's integrated several SOCs, SOMs, COMs, and SBCs, I promise the only special part about this is that it's x86. Pentium class power has been available in these kinds of form factors for quite a while.

Further, the OP doesn't really say anything about ports, or availability, and forget about "ports," really. The real difficulty with these is power management. PMICs are getting nice and small, and I'm betting there are a few LDOs on board for generating core voltages, but otherwise all of the real power management will be off board as there isn't much room for inductors on an SD form factor board.

$20 says this is just a cute reference implementation to give to their field application engineers so they can get the OEMs jazzed about Quark.

[Edit: The fact that this is an SD form factor is extra fodder for this argument. This thing doesn't go into an SD card slot, or speak SD, but because SD is something everyone thinks of as "tiny but huge," some marketer somewhere said "make it the size/shape of an SD." For example, the last SOM I integrated (for a computer vision application, built around a 466MHz ARM9 SOC) was of similar size, but of much more useful shape.]


$20 says this is just a cute reference implementation to give to their field application engineers so they can get the OEMs jazzed about Quark.

I fear you are correct.

But Intel does seem to be attempting to build RaspberryPi competitors[1][2], so maybe this will be in the same line rather than an engineering sample which you can't actually buy.

[1] http://makezine.com/2013/10/03/10-great-intel-galileo-featur...

[2] http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2298580/intel-unveils-quark-b...


Intel is silicon company. They are myopically focused on this, and this alone. They feed the OEMs and for the most part, try not to step on their toes. Intel will never, ever build something to compete with RPi because that's not where Intel plays. Intel might build something to compete with the Broadcom chips which power the RPi, but honestly I think the revenue stream of the entire hobbyist/educational market combined is just barely a blip on Intel's radar. They like the margins, but the volume just isn't there.

All that said, that doesn't mean that Intel's technical marketing departments aren't taking risks in areas such as the hobbyist market. Companies as large as Intel are often quite good at this. However, I wouldn't trust the longevity (and therefore future) of anything out of Intel that isn't a high volume silicon product line.


Intel is silicon company. They are myopically focused on this, and this alone. They feed the OEMs and for the most part, try not to step on their toes. Intel will never, ever build something to compete with RPi because that's not where Intel plays.

Counterexample: Intel NUC[1]. It's targeted at consumers, and you can actually buy it.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Unit_of_Computing


Sure, there are plenty of such counter examples, but I'd bet my left shoe that each of them draws from some marketing budget or equivalent. Think of those as start-ups within the larger organization: they're risky, transient, and haven't gained acceptance to be a complete part of the whole yet.



I hope the device is open and encourages hacking. But seeing that they're putting an app store on it, (I'm guessing for long term profit) they probably have little incentive to do so.


They're building an app store for the platform (Quark), not necessarily for this explicit device (Edison). Chances are they're using the app store to approach several major OEMs to say "use this SoC, it'll run your x86 software, and it even has an app store!"

There's nothing stopping you from taking one of these and loading whatever you want onto it, if you can even get your hands on one (you can't).


FTA: "It's powered by a dual-core Quark SOC, runs Linux, and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity"...

If it runs Linux, there's a good chance it's open (or could be made open).


Is anyone working on pairing these small devices with keyboards, mice, tablets, monitors, televisions, glasses, etc? Everything has to be wireless, of course.

I'd like a keychain computer that I could drop next to whatever peripherals I happen to be near.


Would you trust whatever peripherals you're near not to keylog all you type and screenshot all you see?


What a pointless comment.

Of course there are always security problems around using untrusted peripherals. Hell, there are security problems around using trusted peripherals.

That doesn't mean the possibilities shouldn't be explored.

(Incidentally, I don't think this is a very interesting use-case. We can already do that with phones, and I never see anyone doing it. But it isn't security issues that stop people doing it.


No, you couldn't. However, I doubt trust/security would be a motivation at that scale. It's essentially equivalent to carrying around a bootable flash drive.


Off topic : In the race of making processors faster and smaller, are we heading to the direction of more power efficient analog computers again?


Technological progress have spoiled me, I was disappointed it wasn't the size of a micro SD card.


If you are a Raspberry Pi fan or even an Arduino fan this is really big news. I'm already pausing to consider changing course on something I'm developing.


Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon, but this shouldn't even register on hobbyist's radar unless Intel also announces that it'll be selling this direct to consumers. These types of things are built to market new processor platforms to OEMs. That doesn't mean that some hobbyist-friendly OEM can't build something nifty out of this, but having dealt with Intel before, chances are for someone small enough to be hobbyist-friendly, the folks at Intel won't even chuckle as they ignore the ringing phone.


Just put in a mouse, and add three more keys.


Ctrl-alt-del? No, this runs windows.




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