The retail industry knows that technology can increase sales and operational efficiency, but many retailers have limited budgets to invest in intelligent retail systems. The challenge for OEMS is finding ways to deliver point-of-sale (POS) systems, kiosks, and digital signage that deliver advanced features while keeping costs down. The new Intel® Atom™ processor N2000 and D2000 series can be a big help in meeting this goal. This new processor family offers significantly improved graphics, energy efficiency, and connectivity, all at an entry-level price point that enables cost-effective solutions.
The upgraded graphics are particularly important for retail applications. The new processors offer up to 4x better 3D graphics performance than its predecessors, along with the 1080p hardware video decode—including dual-decode on the Intel® Atom™ processor D2700 (see Figure 1). These features enable dynamic displays with minimal processor load.
Intel® Atom™ processor N2600
Intel® Atom™ processor N2800
Intel® Atom™ processor D2700
Figure 1. Key specifications.
The new processors also add support for two independent displays, meaning an entry-level POS system could add a display for customer-facing video ads. Similarly, a single digital signage system could control two displays. In addition to supporting two displays, the new platform supports a variety of new display standards as well as a rich set of I/O (see Figure 2). All these features comes with thermal design power (TDP) ratings as low as 3.5 W, enabling fanless designs that eliminate moving parts to maximize reliability and longevity—and thus lower the costs of ownership.
Figure 2. The new Intel® Atom™ processor.
You can get a head start on your retail system with hardware from the Intel® Embedded Alliance , whose 200-plus members collaborate closely with Intel to create optimized hardware, software, tools, and services to help you speed designs to market. These solutions include computer-on-module (COM), single-board computer (SBC), and motherboard offerings, as well as ready-to-use embedded PCs. Figure 3 lists a selection of hardware available from the Alliance.
LVDS/VGA,8 USB, 4 PCIe
HDMI/VGA/2 LVDS, 2 GbE, 2 COM, 7 USB, GPIO, Touch Controller (optional), CF, SATA, mPCIe w/mSATA,
POS, Kiosk, Signage
2 LVDS/HDMI, 2 GbE, Touch Controller, 6 COM, 8 USB, GPIO, SATA, mPCIe w/mSATA
VGA/LVDS, GbE, 8 USB, GPIO, 2 SATA, 4 PCIe, 4 PCI
VGA/LVDS, 2 SATA, 6 COM, 6 USB, 2 GbE, GPIO, mPCIe, CF
HDMI/ DVI, SATA, SD/MMC, COM, 4 USB, GbE, GPIO, 2 mPCIe (w/mSATA), VESA mount
HDMI/ DVI, SATA, SD/MMC, 2 COM, 4 USB, GbE, GPIO, PCIe, 2 mPCIe (w/mSATA), VESA mount
VGA/LVDS/DVI-I, 2 GbE, 6 COM, 6 USB, 2 SATA, PCI, 2 mPCIe, SIM slot
POS, Kiosk, Signage
DVI/VGA , 6 USB, 2 GbE, 6 COM, SIM slot, 2 mPCIe, PCI, VESA mount, removable HDD
VGA/HDMI/LVDS, GbE, 8 USB, 6 COM, LPT, PCI, mPCIe (w/mSATA), GPIO, PS/2, daughter card interface, 2 SATA
VGA/HDMI/LVDS, GbE, 8 USB, 6 COM, LPT, PCI, mPCIe (w/mSATA), 2 SATA
VGA/HDMI/LVDS, GbE ,8 USB, 6 COM, LPT, GPIO, 2 mPCIe (w/mSATA), 2 SATA
POS, Kiosk, Signage
Figure 3. Select Alliance products for retail.
One interesting example of the SBCs available from the Alliance is the Norco MITX-6930 mini-ITX motherboard. Among its many features, this board includes a SIM card socket for 3G cellular modems—a useful feature for retail settings that lack LAN connections. Figure 4 shows how a digital sign could put this cellular capability to use. For OEMs who prefer an off-the-shelf solution, Norco also offers the BIS-6630 fanless embedded PC, which wraps the mini-ITX motherboard in a VESA-mountable case.
Figure 4. The Norco BIS-6630 includes a 3G SIM card slot for LAN-free deployment.
A good example of a ready-to-use signage system is the DFI DS912-CD shown in Figure 5. This VESA-mountable system includes a long list of I/O (see Figure 3 for details) and comes with a hard drive kit, power adapter, quick install guide, a DVD with drivers and a manual, and optional VESA- and wall-mounting kits.
Figure 5. The DFI DS912-CD.
These and other Alliance offerings give OEMs a great way to take advantage of the new features in the Intel Atom processor N2000 and D2000 series. By doing so, OEMs can deliver systems that combine advanced features and entry-level pricing to address the need of today’s retailers.
To learn more about power-efficient performance, see intel.com/go/embedded-energyefficiency
Portwell is a Premier member of the Intel Embedded Alliance. Avalue, DFI, and Norco are Associate members of the Alliance. Seavo is an Affiliate members of the Alliance.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Embedded Alliance
Editor-In-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine
Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston