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Intel on the cheap: Chip maker ships $15 IoT developer board

At US$15, the Quark Microcontroller Developer Kit D2000 is perhaps the least expensive computer Intel has ever shipped.

The single-board computer has all the components mashed onto a tiny circuit board. It can be used to develop gadgets, wearables, home automation products, industrial equipment and other Internet of Things products.

Developers could also use the computer to hook up sensors for temperature, light, sound, weather and distance to devices.

The developer board is now available from Mouser Electronics. It will also be available from Avnet, according to Intel.

Intel is targeting companies developing IoT devices and the community of do-it-yourself hardware makers with the new board. These boards typically provide a cheap way to prototype electronics or to make fun devices. Intel is following Atmel, SparkFun, and other vendors that develop inexpensive boards.

This board can't be compared to a high-powered board computer like Raspberry Pi 3, which can double as a PC. The Intel board is smaller, consumes much less power and has a much slower CPU.

Intel has shown examples of how such developer boards can be used. Its Curie board was used on snowboards at X Games to capture and provide real-time information on speed, the height of a jump, and other statistics to viewers and athletes.

Intel has been partnering with well-known products and TV shows to establish its brand recognition with makers, but the core community hasn't warmed up to the chip maker's products yet. Developer boards are mostly ARM-based, but the $15 board could provide Intel a breakthrough in the maker community.

The new developer board has the Quark D2000 microcontroller, which operates at a speed of 32MHz, the same frequency as the Quark chip on the button-sized Curie board.

The Intel board has a six-axis accelerometer, a magnetometer with a temperature sensor, and one USB 2.0 port. It also has a coin cell battery slot and a 5-volt power input.

The board is compatible with the hardware specifications of Arduino Uno, a popular software development tool with makers. A development kit called Intel System Studio for Microcontrollers, which is based on the Eclipse integrated development environment, is also included in the kit.

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