IDF 2013: Announcing Quark SoCs that are even smaller than Atom

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: quark, Intel, idf 2013, idf

In a very interesting and surprising announcement at the first Intel Developer Forum keynote this morning, Intel's new CEO Brian Krzanich showed the first samples of Quark, a new SoC design that will enter into smaller devices that even Atom can reach.

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Quark is the family name for the new line of SoCs that are open, synthesizable and support with industry standard software.  An open SoC is simply one that will allow third-party IP integration with the processor cores while a synthesizable one can be moved and migrated to other production facilities as well.  This opens up Intel to take Quark outside of its own fabrication facilities (though Krzanich said they would prefer not during Q&A) and allow partners to more easily integrate their own silicon with the Quark DNA.  Intel had previously announced that Atom would be able to integrate with third-party IP but that seems to have been put on the back burner in favor of this.

Quark will not be an open core design in the same way that ARM's core can be, but instead Intel is opening up the interface fabric for direct connection to computing resources. 

quark2.jpg

The Quark SoC is square in the middle

Krzanich showed off the chip on stage that is 1/5 the size of Atom and 1/10 the power levels of Atom (though I am not sure if we are referring to Clover Trail or Bay Trail for the comparison).  That puts it in a class of products that only ARM-based designs have been able to reach until now and Intel displayed both reference systems and wearable designs. 

UPDATE: Intel later clarified with me that the "1/5 size, 1/10 power" is for a Quark core against an Atom core at 22nm.  It doesn't refer to the entire SoC package.

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Intel hasn't yet told us what microarchitecture Quark is based on but if I were a betting man I would posit that it is related to the Silvermont designs we are looking at on Bay Trail but with a cut down feature set.  Using any other existing design from Intel would result in higher than desired power consumption and die size levels but it could also be another ground up architecture as well.

I'll be poking around IDF for more information on Quark going forward but for now, it appears that Intel is firmly planting itself on a collision course with ARM and Qualcomm. 

UPDATE 1: I did get some more information from Intel on the Quark SoC.  It will be the first product based on the 14nm manufacturing process and is a 32-bit, single core, single thread chip based on a "Pentium ISA compatible CPU core."  This confirms that it is an x86 processor though not exactly what CPU core it is based on.  More soon!

IDF 2013: Intel Shows Off Haswell-Y and 14nm Broadwell Chips In New Devices

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2013 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: Intel, idf 2013, idf, haswell, fanless, convertible tablet, Broadwell, 14nm

New Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at IDF 2013 to talk about Intel's future and the PC market. The CEO believes that there is more innovation in the PC than ever before as the company introduces new Haswell and Broadwell chips, new form factors are being experimented with, and Intel moves from traditional CPU to SoC type of architectures.

Two such chips that Intel showed off that are aimed at consumer PCs include a new Haswell-Y chip and the launch of a 14nm Broadwell SoC.

Haswell Y is an ultra low power variant of the Haswell processors that have been avaialble in desktops since June. This new chip is a 4.5W TDP chip that will enable fanless mobile devices such as laptops and slate tablets. The x86-64 chip will allow fanless mobiles that run Windows and should be a good bit more powerful than current Atom-powered Windows mobiles!

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A fanless Haswell Y system.

In addition to Haswell Y, Intel is introducing a 14nm Broadwell SoC. The Broadwell chips will be used in both servers and consumer products in 2014.

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The 14nm Broadwell SoC.

Interestingly, it looks like Intel is well on its way to shipping chips as Intel showed off a working laptop with the Broadwell chip at IDF today. Further, Intel announced that the Broadwell chips will be shipping by the end of the year!

Intel 14nm SoC.jpg

A 14nm Broadwell-powered laptop.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information!

Intel IDF 14nm Broadwell working sample.jpg

IDF 2013: Intel Plans $100 Tablets and 22nm SoC Smartphones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2013 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, LTE, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Bay Trail, 22nm

This year at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel is announcing a slew of new products. Among the fray is a sneak peek at some of the mobile devices that will be utilizing the company's Bay Trail Atom SoCs. 

The first device Intel showed off was a small Lenovo branded tablet that is likely the Intel-powered alternative to the current ARM-powered S5000 that was announced at IFA 2013 in Berlin. The Intel powered tablet is using a Bay Trail Atom SoC.

Intel Tablet.jpg

The mysteriously specc'd Lenovo tablet is not the only kit to use Bay Trail, however. Intel claims that there will be a number of new tablets on the way, including models that will be available for under $100 in time for this holiday season. Of course, beyond that specs were not announced.

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Intel also showed off a new prototype smartphone that is powered by a new 22nm SoC. Ryan speculates that the chip is an Intel Merrifield-based SoC which is a mobile architecure derived from Silvermont. The company claims that the move to a 22nm manufacturing process for these mobile chips results in a 50% battery life improvement. Impressive, if those numbers hold true!

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The smartphone further features an LTE radio, and Intel shared a speed test of the LTE modem during the conference. Today, the smartphone uses LTE for data and 3G for voice calls, but by the end of the year products will be able to use the LTE radio for both data and voice connections.

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Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IDF good-ness as it develops!

Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2013 Keynote Live Blog

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 11:02 AM |
Tagged: live blog, keynote, Intel, idf 2013, idf

UPDATE: You can see the replay of our live blog below from Day 1 of IDF but be sure you head over to the Day 2 Live Blog page to set a reminder!  Join us on Wednesday at 9am PT / 12pm ET!!

 

Today is the beginning of the 2013 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco!  Join me at 9am PT for the first of three live blogs of the main Intel keynotes where we will learn what direction Intel is taking on many fronts!

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Intel is releasing a new optical interconnect; this time they totally mean it

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2013 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: MXC, Intel, idf, fiber optics, corning

Remember Intel's LightPeak, that optical interconnect which promised incredible throughput that Apple somehow managed to quash?  Thunderbolt is interesting, though certainly expensive and offers only a part of what we were promised at what seems an exorbitant amount of money.  At the upcoming IDF Intel promises to introduce an optical connector which is similar to what LightPeak was although it will be intended for server interconnects as opposed to removable devices.  However at 1.6 Tbps MXC will be impressively fast and Corning's new ClearCurve LW fibre technology will prove to be rugged enough to survive through the bends and snarls which inevitably occur when two or more wires are put in close proximity.  Check out the link to the abstract through ExtremeTech.

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"Ahead of the Intel Developer Forum next month, Intel and Corning are teasing a new optical interconnect technology capable of 1.6 terabits per second. Dubbed MXC, the interconnect is designed to supercharge the interconnection of servers in data center environments, where current networking technologies are struggling to keep up with the massive growth of cloud computing."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: ExtremeTech

Intel Announces New Atom SoCs for Low Power Server, Networking, and Storage Hardware

Subject: Processors | April 11, 2013 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: s12x9, Intel, idf, atom

In addition to Intel's announcement of new Xeon processors, the company is launching three new Atom-series processors for servers later this year. The new processor lineups include the Intel Atom S12x9 family for storage applications, Rangeley processors for networking gear, and Avoton SoCs for low-power micro-servers.

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The Intel Atom S12x9 family takes the existing S1200 processors and makes a few tweaks to optimize the SoCs for storage servers and other storage appliances. For reference, the Intel Atom S1200 series of processors feature sub-9W TDPs, 1MB of cache, and two physical CPU cores clocked at up to 2GHz. However, Intel did not list the individual S12x9 SKUs or specifications, so it is unknown if they will also be clocked at up to 2GHz. The new Atom S12x9 processors will feature 40 PCI-E 2.0 lanes (26 Root Port and 16 Non-Transparent Bridge) to provide ample bandwidth between I/O and processor. The SoCs also feature hardware RAID acceleration, Native Dual-Casting, and Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh. Native Dual-Casting allows data to be read from one source and written to two memory locations simultaneously while Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh protects data during a power failure.

The new chips are available now to customers and will be available in OEM systems later this year. Vendors that plan to release systems with the S12x9 processors include Accusys, MacroSAN, Qnap, and Qsan.

Intel is also introducing a new series of processors --- codenamed Rangeley -- is intended to power future networking gear. The 22nm Atom SoC is slated to be available sometime in the second half of this year (2H'13). Intel is positioning the Rangeley processors at entry-level to mid-range routers, switches, and security appliances.

While S12x9 and Rangeley are targeted at specific tasks, the company is also releasing a general purpose Atom processor codenamed Avoton. The Avoton SoCs are aimed at low power micro-servers, and is Intel's answer to ARM chips in the server room. Avoton is Intel's second generation 64-bit Atom processor series. It uses the company's Silvermont architecture on a 22nm process. The major update with Avoton is the inclusion of an Ethernet controller built into the processor itself. According to Intel, building networking into the processor instead of as a chip on a separate add-on board results in "significant improvements in performance per watt." These chips are currently being sampled to partners, and should be available in Avoton-powered servers later this year (2H'13).

This year is certainly shaping up to be an interesting year for Atom processors. I'm excited to see how the battle unfolds between the ARM and Atom-based solutions in the data center.

Source: Intel (PDF)

Intel Racks up another IDF Keynote

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2013 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: Project Scorpio, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Avonton

Intel talked about their Project Scorpio at IDF, similar to HP's Project Moonshot which has just become available.  Instead of a new Atom server being a complete system installed in a rack there will be a housing into which self contained server modules can be added and will communicate with the other modules via fabric switch.  That way you can pick how many modules you need based on your usage and purchase only that many, with upgrades being as easy as sliding in another module and configuring it.  Lego for admins!

They also showed off information on the new Avonton Atom as well as some information on the next family of Xeon processors which you can read more about at The Tech Report.

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"Intel kicked off IDF Beijing with a keynote address that revealed a number of new server processors in the Atom and Xeon families. The chip maker also discussed its rack scale architecture, which aims to make next-generation servers more flexible and efficient through modular components."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

IDF: ZTE Shows Off New Geek Android Clover Trail+ Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 08:46 AM |
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580

During the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China, ZTE showed off its new Geek phone. The Geek is a 5" smartphone running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and powered by a 32nm Intel Clover Trail+ processor.

The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.

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Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.

On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:

  • GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
    • DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
  • Bluetooth 3.0 LE
  • GPS (AGPS)

It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).

What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.

Source: Engadget

IDF 2012: Western Digital shows off 5mm Hybrid HDD

Subject: Storage | September 12, 2012 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: idf, idf 2012, western digital, wdc, 5mm, hybrid hdd

At the Technology Showcase yesterday during IDF I got see in person the new Western Digital hybrid hard drives that will combine a single platter spinning disk with a NAND flash for a hybrid solution at under 5mm thick.

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You can see that is barely enough z-height for a standard installation screw and this will really help get larger amounts of storage into thinner devices.  WD will have it available in 500GB and 1TB versions though the 1TB model will come in a slightly higher 7mm variety. 

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The WD Blue models will be spinning disk only while the WD Black will combine as much as 32GB of flash memory but it could vary based on the specific OEM request and considerations. 

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Another requirement of this new form factor is the need for a new connector, conveniently named SFF-8038, that handles both power and data. 

We are still waiting for pricing information, but another wave of hybrid technology looks to be on its way!

OCZ Vector SSD Spotted - Indilinx Barefoot 3 Controller

Subject: Storage | September 11, 2012 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: ocz, idf, idf 2012, vector, ssd, Indilinx, barefoot 3

While wandering around San Francisco today, I was stopped by a stranger on the corner of Market and 4th to show me something he found outside the convention hall.  It LOOKS like an SSD PCB but what do you think?

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What you have here is a the internals of a new OCZ Technology SSD brand called Vector that will sit ABOVE the Vertex 4 in the product stack.  This SSD uses the as yet unreleased Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller.

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The drive should be available sometime in Q4 of this year and it marks the first complete Indilinx controller design - no Marvell or other third party intellectual property to be found.

That's all we know for now but you can be sure we'll have the details as they are released!!