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Intel reveals surprising first product with tiny, wearable-tech optimised Quark chip

Intel only just revealed its new, tiny processor family called Quark at the Intel Developer Forum in mid-September. But it hasn't taken long for the chip giant to release the first product featuring the ultra-low power, small-core System-on-a-Chip, which is only about a fifth the size of Intel's Atom processors.

Intel's new Galileo board sports the Quark SoC X1000, the first chip to be released in the company's new product family. Intel has touted Quark as a play for the Internet of Things and wearable tech markets, so Galileo is a bit of a surprise. It's a development board built in partnership with open-source hardware developer Arduino for educators and the DIYers in the maker community.

Furthermore, Intel said that over the next 18 months, it will donate 50,000 Galileo boards to 1,000 universities around the world.

"Through our ongoing efforts in education, we know that hands-on learning inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and math," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said. "I've been a 'maker' for many years and am passionate about the exciting possibilities of technology and what can be created with it. We look forward to a productive collaboration with Arduino and to providing this community with some incredible Intel products that will help push the boundaries of our imaginations."

The Quark SoC X1000 is based on Intel's 32-bit Pentium instruction set architecture but it's a whole lot smaller than the Xeon, Core, and even Atom processors that populate the company's three main processor product lines. The SoC has a single-core, single-thread CPU with a 400MHz clock.

Galileo is compatible with Arduino software and open-platform shield ecosystem of hardware and software tools, enabling "everyday people with little or no technical background to build interactive products." The board runs an open-source Linux operating system out of the box and is programmable through Mac OS, Windows, and Linux host operating software, Intel said.

"We're thrilled to be working with Intel and to have the performance of Intel technology for the first time in our development boards," Massimo Banzi, founder of the Arduino community, said in a statement. "I look forward to our collaboration and believe that our work together will produce some fantastic development vehicles that help foster some very exciting innovations."

Intel said the Galileo board was developed as "a great tool for quickly prototyping simple interactive designs such as LED light displays that respond to social media, or for tackling more complex projects from automating home appliances to building life-size robots controlled by a smartphone."

The development board features a full array of standard I/O technologies, including ACPI, PCI Express, 10/100Mb Ethernet, SD, USB 2.0 device and EHCI/OHCI USB host ports, high-speed UART, RS-232 serial port, programmable 8MB NOR flash, and a JTAG port for easy debug, Intel said.

Galileo will be made available by the end of November, the chip giant added. Intel hasn't revealed a price for the development board, but has set up a landing page for interested parties to learn more.