Sept. 12, 2013 -- Those "Intel Inside" stickers might soon be on a lot more than just your laptop or desktop computer.
This week at its annual Intel Developer's Conference in San Francisco, the chip maker announced a new tiny processor that is meant to power the next generation of wearable computers and Internet-equipped gadgets.
Called Quark, the chip uses one-tenth of the power of Intel's current low-power Atom silicon processor and is one-fifth the size too. But it's not the tech specs that most people are going to find interesting about this new processor, it's how that small size and low power is going to turn everything into computers.
It might not happen in the next year or two, but Steve Brown, Intel's chief technology evangelist, said that's exactly what is on the horizon.
"When I look out to 10 or 20 years from now, we are going to have meaningful amounts of computing at close to zero power or almost zero physical size," he said. "It lets you think about turning everything and anything into a computer -- tables, chairs, clothes and even our bodies could become computers."
Of course, this "smart" gadget or "Internet of Things" revolution has already started. There are dozens of wearable fitness gadgets on the market that monitor our activity -- there's a belt that talks to a phone to tell us about our bad posture, there are Google's glasses that put smartphone features right on your head, thermostats and door locks with Internet connectivity and much more. Those devices don't have chips from Intel, but ones that are based on an even lower power ARM architecture. They are the same type of processors that are in your smartphone.
And that's exactly why making a good chip for this next generation of computers is so important to Intel. While the company still dominates in the computer and laptop processor market, companies that make and sell ARM processors, like Nvidia and Qualcomm, have begun to outpace the once-dominant chip-making company.
But Brown said Quark will have some strong advantages over other solutions, including better software compatibility and better transistors. He said it is still in the early days, but that "ultimately Intel is moving into a new area of computing, the era of integrated computing."