Intel Embraces IoT With New Chips, Platforms, Services

Chip giant unveils new development platforms, a new low-power sensor chip, and a bevy of accompanying software and services to make it all work.

Intel, which erred tremendously 10 years ago when it turned down a proposal from Apple to supply chips for the iPhone, is bound and determined not to miss The Next Big Thing: the Internet of things.

So, to make sure it's ahead of the tech curve, the world's largest processor maker came out Nov. 3 at its IoT Insights event in San Francisco with a total embrace of the IoT: new development platforms, a new low-power sensor chip (Quark, undoubtedly the first of many), and a bevy of accompanying software and services to make it all work.

Regarding Apple, you can look it up. Intel had an opportunity to supply the processors for the largest-selling connected device in the history of the world, but it said no.

A little background: Intel already was making chips for Apple's Mac products in the '90s and 2000s. However, not realizing the ripple effect the then-unnamed mobile device would have on the industry, CEO Paul Otellini and his advisors passed on the Apple proposition, saying the financial numbers didn't seem to make sense.

Who Knew What the iPhone Would Do?

"We ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it. And the world would have been a lot different if we'd done it," Otellini said in a 2013 interview. "The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced, and no one knew what the iPhone would do.”

You can read more about that bit of IT history in eWEEK Senior Editor Jeff Burt's story here.

But back to the news at hand. Intel on Nov. 3 announced:

--A second Intel IoT Platform reference architecture for smart and connected things, designed to enable faster time to market and scaling of IoT solutions;

--New additions to the IoT Platform, include the Intel Quark processors, free cloud-connected Linux operating systems and cloud suite from Wind River;

--New analytics capabilities; and that

--SAP is the first company to market IoT solutions based on the new Intel IoT Platform. The German tech giant will develop its IoT enterprise end-to-end solutions using the Intel platform along with its HANA In-Memory Cloud Platform.

Reference Architecture for 'Smart, Connected Things'

The new Intel IoT Platform reference architecture for "smart and connected things" is focused on enabling the broad Intel ecosystem to develop, secure and integrate smart devices in the easiest way possible, Doug Davis, Intel's Senior Vice President for the IoT Group, said at a media event in San Francisco.

On a high level, Quark processors for IoT provide low-power silicon for intelligent items, Davis said. The Intel Quark SE SoC (system-on-a-chip) and the Intel Quark microcontroller D1000 and D2000 feature powerful processing in an energy-conscious package, he said.

Intel says the new hardware products are in an ideal package for IoT because they offer extended temperature for demanding environments and have long-life reliability. The Intel Quark SE SoC for IoT offers an integrated sensor hub as well as pattern matching technology to deliver real-time insights from complex sensor data at the edge of IoT, Davis said.

The new Linux offering from Wind River is designed to help makers and commercial developers simplify and accelerate IoT application and device development, with the ability to start building applications in 10 minutes. As a critical part of the Intel IoT Platform, it includes free cloud-connected multi-architecture operating systems, Wind River Rocket and Wind River Pulsar Linux, and a comprehensive cloud suite of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products.

New Analytics Functionality Built In

The greatest value of IoT is realized when new business insights are revealed from the massive volume of data generated by smart and connected things. A key component of the new Intel IoT Platform is the Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP), which helps make data actionable and can be integrated in an end-to-end IoT solution.

Designed for developers and data scientists, TAP is aimed at a range of industries, including health care, retail and industrial. It integrates with the Intel IoT Platform reference architecture for data management, protocol abstraction, workload distribution and compute.

Early Use Case Examples

At the press event, early adopters Levi Strauss & Co., Honeywell and Yanzi demonstrated smart devices across applications including industrial wearables, retail and smart buildings, all powered by the Intel IoT platform.

To collect data on everything from space utilization to lighting usage in an office building, Yanzi, a smart building software provider, is using the new Intel Quark SoC to develop the Yanzi Plug and Yanzi Motion. The plug is an energy-monitoring sensor that enables optimized energy use based on space utilization and predictive maintenance in smart buildings, in addition to providing analytics at the edge and in the smart device. The solution results in decreased operating expenses and total cost of ownership of IoT systems in smart buildings.

Honeywell demonstrated a prototype of its connected-worker solution featuring Intel Quark technology. The industrial wearable helps monitor the environments of mission-critical workers, such as first responders, industrial workers and firefighters. It demonstrates how the integration of data from multiple workers can anticipate unsafe conditions and prevent potential "man-down" scenarios or equipment failures that could threaten worker safety and cause costly downtime.

Levi Strauss implemented a proof of concept for the Intel IoT Platform to address inventory management in three of its stores. The POC allows the Levi's stores to gain visibility into what's on the shelf or what might be running low, making the process of inventory management more effective, so when the consumer comes in looking for that exact size and color denim, it's on the shelf.

Most of the new products and services will become available by the end of the year or in early 2016. Go here for more information.

eWEEK Senior Editor Jeff Burt assisted in the development of this article.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...