Intel Launching $100 Million Fund for Smart Devices

The fund, announced at IDF in China, was among several moves by Intel as it looks to expand in the mobile, wearable and IoT device markets.

Intel is creating a $100 million fund and creating an innovation center in China to help fuel the development of smart systems like smartphones and wearable devices powered by its processors.

Also at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in China April 2, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also showed off a new device aimed at the Internet of things (IoT) and said that Edison—a small computer first introduced at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in January—will launch later this year and will give device makers a platform on which to build small, energy-efficient devices.

The chip maker continues to look to expand the reach of its silicon beyond PCs and data center servers, and is moving aggressively not only into mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, but also into burgeoning areas like the IoT and wearable devices.

At IDF, Krzanich said the company's work with Chinese tech vendors will be a key to Intel's future efforts.

"The China technology ecosystem will be instrumental in the transformation of computing," he said, according to Intel. "To help drive global innovation, Intel will stay focused on delivering leadership products and technologies that not only allow our partners to rapidly innovate, but also deliver on the promise that 'if it computes, it does it best with Intel'—from the edge device to the cloud, and everything in between."

Intel for the past several years has been driving down the power consumption and improving the performance and features of its low-power Atom platform and embracing Google's Android mobile operating system as it looks to carve out a larger space in the booming mobile device market. The bulk of smartphones and tablets now run on SoCs designed by ARM and manufactured by such partners as Samsung and Qualcomm, though Intel officials believe that new Atom chips built on the Silvermont architecture meet or exceed ARM designs in energy efficiency and performance.

Intel officials expect 40 million tablets running their chips to ship this year, and expect smartphone makers in the second quarter to begin shipping devices powered by the company's new "Merrifield" SoC.

They are hoping to fuel adoption of Intel chips in devices in China and other regions via the new Smart Device Innovation Center in Shenzhen. The center will give Chinese device makers and software developers access to Intel technology, including reference designs, programming tools and customer support. The $100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund is aimed at helping Chinese vendors develop Intel-powered devices like two-in-one systems (which can be used as traditional PCs or as tablets), tablets, smartphones, wearable devices and IoT systems.