Remote embedded devices such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals and intelligent kiosks are becoming commonplace in nearly every marketplace and offer retailers reduced operating costs, real-time data collection, and simplified maintenance. The embedded performance requirements of these systems are substantial as most devices must simultaneously interact with a user and drive one or more local displays while communicating with a remote server. As the number of units continue to escalate, these performance expectations will grow as developers strive to outperform the competition and create a unique user experience. In addition to escalating performance needs, many POS terminals and kiosks are deployed in locations without a local operator and require built-in provisions for system security and remote management.
The recently deployed 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors deliver a number of performance and security enhancements that match the needs of remote automated point of sale and kiosk devices. In addition to the promise of long term availability, the processors feature increased performance and lower power while integrating the graphics processor to reduce component count and simplify board layout. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture also supports an advanced version of Intel® vPro™ Technology for security and remote system management. This technology allows designers to activate, reconfigure, and if necessary, deactivate a remote embedded system. Intel® vPro™ technology capabilities are embedded in hardware so they can be accessed and administered separately from any hard drive, operating system, or software applications. Key encryption components are kept in protected FLASH memory to improve security and block access to sensitive information. vPro™ also includes Intel® Active Management Technology with certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. This technology gives remote device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage future software updates.
Targeting the high performance point of sale and kiosk market, Avalue Technology released the EPI-QM67 single board computer powered by the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i5-2510E or Core™ i7-2710QE processor and Intel® QM67 Express chipset (See figure 2). Based on the EPIC form factor, the module features dual DVI or LVDS display configurations along with a built-in touch screen interface for interactive applications. To support a wide range of I/O requirements, the module includes two SATA interfaces, two COM ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, a 16-bit general purpose I/O port, and two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Intel® Active Management Technology 7.0 enables remote networking manageability for easy monitoring and communication between the server and end user, offering optimized system management capability, even if the power is off.
In the software arena, PFU Systems offers the Kiosk Service Platform (KSP) for development and operation of web-based kiosk applications (See figure 3). The KSP browser allows developers to use web based development tools and mirror the web’s look and feel in their custom applications. In addition, the software allows easy porting of existing web-based applications to the kiosk. The platform controls all devices connected to the kiosk terminal’s I/O ports and uses the local program to monitor all status conditions, control the peripherals, and manage all maintenance/servicing requirements. The KSP software also features multiple management and maintenance security levels to insure protection for sensitive customer information.
The 2nd generation Intel® Core technology provides the developers of remote POS and kiosk devices with new graphics capabilities in a small, low power form factor with a reduced component count. This new architecture also maximizes embedded system availability with Intel® vPro™ Technology for security and remote system management. If you are starting a new retail terminal project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical details and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel® vPro™ remote management.
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Avalue Technology is an Associate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. PFU Systems is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.