"IoT" was probably the number three technology buzzword of 2016, behind "machine learning" and "virtual reality" and just ahead of "RGB LEDs." Intel wants in on the IoT action, and to that end the company showed off its Compute Card at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Compute Card contains all the necessary parts for a contemporary computer: a system-on-a-chip, RAM, some storage, and wireless connectivity. Intel says the Card has "flexible I/O options" that allow hardware makers to easily integrate the Card into their devices, and mentions "digital signage and kiosks, All-in-Ones, smart TVs and appliances" among the intended use cases.
Intel will offer the Compute Card in multiple performance levels. Device designers pack Compute Card compatibility into their devices, then they can choose the Card with the performance level needed to meet the design goals. The big blue silicon guys say this gives third parties additional flexibility, since they don't need to worry about validation if they realize they need more computing power halfway through a project.
The Compute Card will be available with a wide-range of SoCs, including units packing "seventh-generation Core processors." We have a feeling this phrasing might mean Y-series chips that used to be called "Core m" before consumers seemingly turned away from that particular sub-brand. The card's physical package measures a tidy 3.7" x 2.2" x 0.2" (9.5 cm x 5.5 cm x 0.5 cm). The Card connects to a host device with an extensible "new standard connector" that's based on USB Type-C and can handle USB, PCIe, HDMI, and DisplayPort connectivity.
The partner list for the Compute Card includes big hitters like Dell, Lenovo, and Sharp, along with players like Seneca Data, InFocus, DTx, TabletKiosk, and Pasuntech. That list suggests that initial uses for the Compute Card may trend closer to traditional industrial and embedded applications, rather than consumer-focused IoT devices. Intel says the Compute Cards will start shipping in mid-2017.