Intel has announced the impending launch of its Edison system, once of the world’s most powerful, miniature computers on a single PCB. It combines a 22nm Atom dual core processor running at 500MHz, with a 32bit Intel Quark processor MCU running at 100MHz and one GB of DDR3 POP memory. It also has 4GB of eMMC storage and supports dual band Broadcom wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.0.
All of this makes Edison intensely powerful, but the impressive part is that it does it in a form factor that’s only a few centimetres by a few centimetres. It’s also millimetres thin, making it an excellent choice for wearable devices. It’s something Intel talked about implementing in future wearable devices earlier this year, as well as discussing Edison’s heftier cousin, Galileo.
The question is, what will developers use Edison to build? Essentially with a bit of know how, they can put a Linux distro on there and have a fully functioning PC on your wrist. Then there’s all the bespoke systems people could create with it.
It’s hardware like this that is required to take wearables to the next level, giving them all the power and storage necessary, whilst also being independent and drawing little power so that battery life isn’t an issue. As it stands, the most powerful smartwatches only last for a few hours before dying and requiring a charge, which means taking it off, which somewhat kills the point of a wearable.
Intel has even developed its own wearable, a wristband called Mica. This little device comes with a touchscreen OLED display and a bunch of precious jewels to make it pretty. The idea is that it’s to aid communication, providing the ability to text and get call alerts straight from it. It’s going to be pricey though, with Intel postulating a price tag as high as $1,000 for some versions – depending on what stones are used. As powerful as Edison is, many wonder if a cost that high and with a relatively low functioning piece of hardware, if Intel will struggle to shift many of the device.
Beyond wearables though, a miniature device like Edison could find its way into our homes. Re-usable food packaging, or devices in the home could become smart simply by utilising the processing power in the little Edison system. With wireless connectivity and storage built in alongside the processor, Edison is entirely independent – apart from requiring a power supply – so could theoretically be installed anywhere.
The Edison system will cost about $50.