At IDF in September, Intel surprised us with Quark, a tiny SoC that's one fifth the size of a Atom chip. The chip has already gone on to spawn an Arduino-compatible development board, and it's destined to power devices in the "Internet of things" everyone keeps talking about.
Now, Intel has made the small SoC an even bigger deal by forming a new business unit dedicated to connected devices. According to Reuters, the Internet of Things Solutions Group will report directly to CEO Brian Krzanich, who wants a "higher level of focus" on chips like Quark. EE Times adds that Atom processors will also be one of the group's main products.
Intel was slow to jump on the mobile train, and it seems Krzanich doesn't want to be caught unprepared if connected appliances and consumer devices become the norm. The margins on tiny SoCs are probably pretty low, but if they go into everything, the market could be huge. And if there's one thing Intel knows how to do, it's crank out processors in volume.
Interestingly, Intel is forming the new group by combining existing business units that focus on chips and software for commercial and industrial devices. Software will probably be key to managing the disparate collection of, er, things slated to join our increasingly connected lives. I'm still not convinced that my bathroom scale needs to talk to my fridge, if only because they'd probably conspire against me, but the Internet of things does seem inevitable. It will be interesting to see how much of it has Intel inside.