Intel Quark is just too hot for wearable technology, says ARM

by: Robert TriggsFebruary 24, 2014

Intel Quark

Wearable technology just keeps on making the headlines, partly thanks to Samsung’s newly announced Gear 2 and 2 Neo smartwatches. As well as software features and aesthetic designs to get right, we seem to be forgetting that we still need processors to power our wearables. The battle for who will control the potentially huge wearable technology market is well and truly on.

We’ve already hit on the fact that wearable computing requires a new range of power efficient, and above all else, smaller SoCs than you’d find in a smartphone. ARM’s Cortex A and M chips are already well placed to deal with this emerging market segment, and Intel has also started to make a move with its own Quark processor and Edison development board. ARM is already a ways out in front here too, whilst Edison is slowing making its way into the hands of developers. Furthermore, ARM has also spotted another, rather large, flaw with Intel’s technology – it’s too darn hot!

Intel Quark Thermal Hot

According to a test conducted in ARM’s own labs, the company’s Cortex-A9 processor, the same core which has found its way into a number of dual and quad-core smartphone SoCs, can be seen running at a very cool 28.4oC without any cooling solutions applied. That’s pretty much perfect for something you’re likely to wear on your wrist.

The same can’t be said when it comes to Intel’s turn, its Galileo development board, the predecessor to the new Edison development kit which are both powered by an Intel Quark X1000 chip, reaches a blistering 54.9 oC whilst just being used to turn a light on and off. Ouch!

To be fair to Intel, the board would be slimmed down substantially before being used in any product, and some of the heat is probably being generated by additional bits of hardware on the board, including whatever is converting the mains voltage to 5V (ARM’s chip is just running from a battery). Never the less, ARM raises an excellent point regarding the temperature of our wearable technology. Wearable technology not only necessitates smaller and more power efficient chips, but also SoCs which will run cool when left on for long periods of time, whilst still being able to power all the things we want our smartwatches to do. Talk about a tall order.

Check out the video below for a closer look at ARM’s temperature test, as well as some cool thermal imaging clips (badum tish).

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    is it just me or “can been seen” doesn’t sound right…

    • Rob Triggs

      Thanks for the spot!

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        Keep it up guys you are doing a great job! Thank you!

  • MasterMuffin

    The main thing to remember from this: ARM says. I’m waiting for something way more legit than a test made by the competitor of Intel :)

    • Dimitar Gospodinov

      maybe Intel says?

  • Hellz

    when i see company talking crap about competitors product it tells me one thing: they are scared

  • Manoel Ramon

    In fact this post is technically wrong… By default Intel Galileo runs the libraries to support Arduino that means there is a infinity loop() that is part of Arduino reference design. Consequently the device is not entering in sleep mode because is not supposed to!.. If you want to make a fair comparation, you can program Galileo to remove the loop() from user space context and enable the kernel sleep mode (S3) or a second alternative is, program ARM to run a infinity loop() in userspace as mandatory by Arduino reference APIs and compare when your device is not in sleep mode. You are comparing the temperature of a car with engines on but in your garage with a car running 160mph in freeway under an amazing and lovely Sun.

  • Brazuca

    Just curious: Are there any products out there based on Quark besides the maker board ? Perhaps a smart watch reference design from Intel?