Intel makes the world’s smallest IoT modem

It's a 3G modem for wearable devices

Intel says it is producing a 3G modem, an essential component for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, that's smaller than any other similar product.

The modem is about the size of a penny. How much smaller it is than other, similar devices now available is unclear -- and Intel isn't making any direct comparisons.

Intel mini modem Intel

Intel's 3G modem is designed for the Internet of Things.

The real message from Intel is that it is acting aggressively to boost its ability to compete in the IoT world. In contrast to its strong operations in the PC and server markets, Intel has been playing catch-up in the mobile market for several years.

Intel is building off its 2011 acquisition of Infineon Technologies' Wireless Solutions business, part of its effort to become a bigger presence in the mobile wireless market. Infineon 3G chips and baseband processors are used in smartphones and tablets.

The IoT mobile communications market isn't like the smartphone market. Features like LTE support and video-sending capability aren't necessarily needed for devices that may transmit small amounts of data.

Almost any device can be equipped to access 3G wireless networks, including smoke detectors, door locks and blood pressure monitors -- none of which need the full performance of LTE wireless technology, said Jim Nucci, director of product marketing in Intel's Mobile and Communications group.

The modem, launched Tuesday, is officially called the XMM 6255; it uses a module made by Swiss firm U-blox. Intel said it will be adding technology from other module makers.

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