Intel may have not been able to corner the mobile market as it had dreamed, but that hasn’t stopped it from shrinking its technology into smaller and smaller sizes. OK, so maybe it has also thrown in the towel as far as wearables are concerned, so it’s aiming for the next big trend in consumer electronics: the Internet of Things. To help device and appliance manufacturers kickstart their IoT production process with Intel at the core, the chip maker will be making available a Compute Card they can just slot into their product to make them smarter and connect to the World Wide Web.
It’s not hard to think of Compute Card as Intel’s x86 answer to the ARM-based Raspberry Pi. Both, after all, are complete compute platforms, with processor, memory, and input/output hooks, that are just slightly bigger than credit cards. The Intel Compute Card itself measures 94.5 mm x 55 mm x 5 mm only.
Of course, there are differences beyond just x86 versus ARM. The Raspberry Pi is a hobbyist, DIY board for everyone and you build contraptions around it. The Intel Compute Card, on the other hand, is more like a ready-made and ready to use component that you slot into devices, calling to mind the PCMCIA cards of old.
The idea is that manufacturing partners make products, like, a smart fridge or a security camera system, with the Compute Card in mind. But instead of building it right into the device, they just provide a slot they can insert the card into after the fact. This can be done either by the OEM itself or by consumers, making the additional intelligence only optional and potentially keeping costs down.
Intel is still being coy about the exact specs of the Compute Card, other than it has a 7th gen “Kaby Lake” Core processor and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is also unknown if it will be made available to the general public when it fully launches in mid-2017, but, from the looks of it, it will primarily be available to manufacturing partners. Intel says that Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp have already signed up to be one of the first to experience Intel’s vision of the Internet of Things.