Designed in Ireland: Irish chip drives Intel’s wearables revolution

16 Oct 2015

Intel's Curie SOC, named after Marie Curie, that was designed here in Ireland

This morning at the Maker’s Faire in Rome a design team based at Intel in Ireland once again found themselves at the heart of Intel’s march into the future. The team designed the Intel Curie module that powers Intel’s new Genuino 101 dev board for wearable devices.

Two years ago, a skunkworks team led by Philip Moynagh, a former Intel lab manager who is now the company’s vice president in charge of the internet of things (IoT), unveiled the Galileo board at the Maker’s Faire in Rome, which was powered by the Intel Quark Soc (system on a chip) X1000. That board was aimed at makers and inventors and was Intel’s first real stab at enabling the internet of things revolution.

This morning at the Maker’s Faire 2015, Intel announced the release of the Genuino 101 dev board for entry-level makers and educators.

The heart of the board is the tiny, low-power Intel Curie module that was designed in Ireland by the same team that developed the Quark Soc for the Galileo board.

Curie chips at heart of Intel’s wearables dev board


The Genuino contains all the things you need to produce a fitness band, smartwatch or garment with built-in technologies, including an accelerometer, gyroscope and Bluetooth Smart connectivity.

The dev board – known in the US as the Arduino 101 – which features the Irish-designed Curie chip will be the prototyping tool used on a new reality TV show by Turner Broadcasting called America’s Greatest Makers, which will propel the maker’s revolution into the mainstream.

The Genuino 101 will be available in the first quarter of 2016 for a suggested retail price of US$30 (€27) from vendors like Amazon, Radio Shack and RS Components and many others.

‘Curie is Intel’s first system on a chip aimed at the wearables market and it was designed here in Ireland’

The man leading the Curie design team in Ireland, Noel Murphy, was also integral to the creation of the Galileo board in 2013.

He explained that the chip was named after Marie Curie, whose pioneering research into radioactivity led to the evolution of X-ray technology, was the first female to win the Nobel Prize and the first person to win the Nobel prize twice in multiple sciences.

“The Curie chip powers the Genuino board, which is aimed at creating extremely low-power wearable platforms like fitness bands, smart clothes, smartwatches and lots, lots more,” Murphy told

“Curie is an application processor that is at the heart of Genuino and it was designed here in Ireland by our team in Leixlip.

“Curie is Intel’s first system on a chip aimed at the wearable’s market and it was designed here in Ireland.”

Curie contains the same Quark module that was designed for the Galileo maker’s dev board in 2013 and includes a lot of custom features aimed directly at the wearables market, including an ultra-low-power design.

“We can see this being used in smartbands, watches and even in sliothars among hurley and camogie players wishing to improve their game.”

Included in the SOC is Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), which is vital for connecting wearables and IoT devices seamlessly to smartphones and tablet computers to track data.

“We are working hard in this area because we see the technology shrinking constantly, consuming less and less power but at the same time growing in intelligence and processing power. Curie will be at the heart of everything from industrial IoT applications to smart homes and wearables to devices that can charge wirelessly.”

Towards the next generation of technology makers

Intel is currently in the midst of a US$5bn expansion at its Leixlip operation where it employs more than 4,000 people. The construction project alone will create 5,000 building jobs as the Intel plant prepares for the latest fabrication processes.

While manufacturing has been Intel’s focus in Ireland for the past 26 years, design is a whole new foray and represents a maturing of the Intel business in Ireland.

“Design is the next proof point on the journey for Intel in Ireland. We describe it internally as ‘legs on a stool’ and complementing the great work we are doing in Ireland in terms of manufacturing with additional responsibilities like design and software and taking on more and more of the value chain.”

Murphy said the vision for Curie is to digitise a myriad of things. It began as a chip that would have sat inside a button on a jacket. “The journey is to make technology invisible but sit inside everything from clothes to furniture and watches, and it began here in Ireland.”


Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group.

“Empowering budding entrepreneurs and young students has always been a priority for Intel, and by partnering with Arduino, we are bringing the power of Intel to a new generation of makers,” said Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group.

“With the advanced features of the Intel Curie module embodied in the Genuino 101 board, young learners as well as developers can now bring to life truly unique, smart and connected creations.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years