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2012

Over the years, Intel® Architecture processors have become widely popular in many military and aerospace systems. Many of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members focus a majority of their efforts on this market segment, with a strong line of products optimized for use in applications common to military and aerospace.

 

In parallel with the Intel® announcements of the latest 22nm quad-core processors, the third generation Intel® Core™ i7-3612QE and i7-3615QE, has been a wave of board and system announcements for products that are targeted at military and aerospace applications that show off the latest in Intel® Architecture processor technology.

 

Kontron starts the march with recent announcements to upgrade several popular board form factors. Kontron boosts performance/watt for high-performance embedded solutions with seven new application-ready platforms available on their COM Express® basic, Flex-ATX, Mini-ITX, AdvancedMC™, 3U and 6U CompactPCI® as well as 3U VPX™, embedded board form factors. Kontron claims these boards provide up to 20% enhanced computing power and up to 40% increased performance per watt compared to designs based on the second generation Intel® Core processors.

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Kontron Platforms with third generation Intel® Core™ i7-3612QE  and i7-3615QE.

 

Norbert Hauser, Executive Vice President Marketing at Kontron explained. "Our objective is to get the cutting-edge high performance technology building blocks into our customers hands early so that they can utilize the benefits sooner in their solutions and get to market quickly with their complete applications. Our active involvement with Intel® helps us to ensure our customers’ minimized time-to-market.”

 

GE Intelligent Platforms first wave launched four products. The SBC325 is a new 3U VPX single board computer that implements the i7-3612QE quad core processor and the SBC625, XCR15 and XVR15 – designed for 6U VPX, CompactPCI and VME systems respectively, use a  i7-3615QE processor. All of these boards are available in five build levels, from benign (air-cooled) to fully rugged (conduction cooled) to provide customers with optimum price/performance.

 

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GE Intelligent Platforms SBC325 3U VPX Single Board Computer with i7-3612QE.

http://defense.ge-ip.com/news-events/detail/2986

Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS), paraded out two new OpenVPX™ boards designed with the i7-3612QE processor, the VPX3-1257, their first  SBC and the CHAMP-AV8 DSP engine. The VPX3-1257 is a full-featured 3U OpenVPX SBC, designed for harsh-environment, air and conduction-cooled aerospace and defense applications. The combination of four cores and doubling of floating point performance  provided by the new Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX)  instruction set on the CHAMP-AV8 is a tremendous performance boost for signal processing applications.

 

"This 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor allows us to enhance our products by creating a 3U OpenVPX SBC with a thermal footprint never before obtained with earlier generation processors," said Lynn Bamford, senior vice president and general manager of Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions. "With Intel's commitment to long life-cycle supply, this advanced low-power processing engine will drive a new generation of higher performance and power efficient compute intensive applications."

 

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To round out the first wave ranks of announcments, Concurrent Technologies announced three products; the VX 91x/01x 6U VXS™/VME SBC, the PP 93x/x1x 6U CompactPCI® SBC, and the AM 92x/x1x AdvancedMC™ SBC. All three product familes are offered with either the i7-3612QE or i7-3615QE processors.

 

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Concurrent Technologies VX 91x/01x 6U VXS™/VME Single Board Computer with i7-3612QE.

 

The third generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors not only offer enhanced performance per watt but also deliver a significantly improved thermal profile, enabling greater cooling for the extended temperature ranges demanded by the most rugged military, aerospace and government customer. Size, weight, and power (SWaP) of embedded designs that are so critical to military and aerospace applications reach new realms of possibilities, offering an opportunity for the development of new capabilities in small form factor applications.

 

The list of applications that can benefit from the new gains in SWaP includes command/control, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), radar/sonar, and signal processing. Platforms with the most demanding fielded applications from unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, tactical aircraft, and armored vehicles to rugged naval systems will see significant improvements.

 

I am sure that there are many other products in development now. Expect an attack of announcements in the coming weeks as additional members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance promote their product lines to Ivy Bridge.

 

Jerry Gipper

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editorial Director, OpenSystems Media, VITA Technologies

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance, GE Intelligent Platforms is an Associate member, and Concurrent Technologies and Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions are Affiliate members.

Like other health care technologies, medical imaging is advancing at a pace about as relentless as Moore’s Law. Scientists such as those who recently broke the MRI sound barrier are discovering ways to accelerate the speed and improve the precision of critical imaging equipment in the hopes of scanning patients more rapidly and producing more accurate results.

 

These systems rely on off-the-shelf hardware to process complex imaging data and generate high-resolution pictures, often presented on multiple displays. With the introduction of the 3rd-generation Intel® Core™ (codenamed Ivy Bridge) architecture, COTS boards and modules can now provide enhanced media and graphics performance (2x better than the  previous generation Intel® Core™ processors) plus faster, more efficient  CPU performance to meet the escalating demands of medical imaging applications.

 

As the first microprocessor architecture built on Intel’s latest 22 nm process technology, Ivy Bridge offers a smaller 3D transistor with power-aware interrupt  routing for higher-performance, lower-power processing augmented by Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 for automatically scaling clock frequencies to manage heavy workloads. The 3rd-generation Intel® Core™ processor family saves designers the trouble of needing to add discrete graphics hardware by integrating the graphics engine and media processing on a single chip. Equipped with Microsoft DirectX 11 support and more redesigned execution units, Intel® HD Graphics 4000 shares last-level cache between the CPU and graphics to optimize load balancing and accelerate 3D rendering, thereby delivering sophisticated graphics and visual features like those required in medical imaging systems as well as industrial applications.

 

Members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance are leveraging these and other features offered by the Ivy Bridge platform in new COTS boards targeting the medical sector. For example, Kontron is offering two Ivy Bridge-based boards that address requirements in medical applications: a planned Mini-ITX motherboard (model number TBD) and the Kontron COMe-bIP6, a COM Express basic pin-out Type 2 and 6 Computer-On-Module (COM).

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Kontron COMe-bIP6 COM Express board

 

Both boards feature state-of-the-art graphics performance provided via 2x DisplayPort, LVDS/eDP, and DVI interfaces, as well as support for three  simultaneous independent displays. While the Mini-ITX motherboard offers advanced interface support including PCI Express 3.0 x16, 4x USB 3.0, and 10x USB 2.0, the Kontron COMe-bIP6 module packs up to 16 GB of dual-channel system memory (2x DDR3 SODIMM) in a small, flexible COM Express form factor ideal for compute-intensive, power-efficient medical  applications. In addition to supporting the latest interface technologies, the 3rd-generation Intel® Core™ architecture enables these boards to deliver the performance-per-watt ratios and long-term availability (7+ years) required by the medical market, as well as provide integrated Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT 8.0) to simplify remote management, resulting in higher medical system reliability and lower total costs.

 

IEI Technology also offers a number of Ivy Bridge-based motherboards well-suited for medical applications. In particular, the KINO-QM770 Mini-ITX SBC and the NANO-QM770 EPIC SBC can utilize the low-power 17 W  Intel® Core™ CPU for a fanless medical system or the 35 W Intel® Core™ CPU for a medical system outfitted with a smart fan that operates above the default temperature setting. Both boards incorporate the Intel QM77 chipset and support DVI-I/Dual HDMI/LVDS, USB 3.0, Mini PCI Express, SATA III, and dual PCI Express GbE LAN with Intel® AMT 8.0 support.

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IEI Technology KINO-QM770 Mini-ITX SBC

 

Arbor Technology’s MB-i77q0 Micro-ATX motherboard likewise integrates a PCI  Express x16 slot that can be used for installing a high-end graphics card, which, in combination with the Ivy Bridge onboard graphics, can support up to four independent displays. The board’s multiple expansion options offer flexibility in ultrasound imaging and other diagnostic medical systems by enabling designers to add in or swap out data acquisition or other expansion cards as needed in the specific application.

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Arbor Technology MB-i77q0 Micro-ATX motherboard

 

Other new products drawing on the enhanced graphics capabilities and computing performance of the latest-gen Intel® Core™ processors include the MANO870 Mini-ITX SBC from AXIOMTEK and the conga-TM77 COM Express module from congatec, both of which provide the advanced digital display  options crucial for medical imaging system applications.

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AXIOMTEK MANO870

 

More board- and system-level products utilizing the Ivy Bridge architecture will make their debut in the months ahead, so be sure to visit the Intel® Embedded Community often for the scoop on produce releases, and check out the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance solutions directory as well as the online product database at Embedded Computing Design for new product specs. And to find more community news on health care applications, see “Top Picks – Medical.”

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Jennifer Hesse

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. AXIOMTEK, congatec, and IEI Technology are Associate members, and Arbor  Technology is an Affiliate member.

I spent a day last week at CTIA Wireless in New Orleans, having some productive discussions with a range of companies. While this show certainly seems to have steadily become much more consumer-oriented, there were still a number of interesting announcements and exhibits from the infrastructure side of the business.

 

The overriding theme of the show seemed to be the growth in LTE deployments, subscribers and devices. At the time of last year’s show in Orlando, most of the 4G devices available in the US were based on either HSPA+ or WiMAX and the first LTE smartphone had just been introduced. One year later, multiple LTE smartphones are available while Sprint and Verizon are rapidly deploying LTE coverage in the US.

 

A lot of interest at the show, in fact, was generated by the on-going debate between Sprint and Verizon about the performance of their respective networks. During a keynote address, Verizon’s CEO Dan Mead suggested that Verizon’s network would deliver higher performance thanks to its use of 20MHz of spectrum, whereas Sprint’s is restricted to 10MHz. Sprint’s Bob Azzi subsequently stated during a media briefing that, while their narrower band would cause a difference in peak speed, the overall subscriber experience would be “very good”, implying no discernible impact to overall performance. Sprint also discussed plans to use Clearwire’s TD-LTE service to supplement the capacity of its network and then move to LTE-Advanced in the future.

 

Small cells were also a hot topic at the show. While the small cell concept is perceived as the optimum approach for operators to deal with booming mobile data demand, there are now signs that it may be hard to derive the expected benefits from them in some cases. In theory, small cells make more efficient use of existing frequencies and cover areas, such as indoor spaces, that are hard to reach with macro cells. However, there are significant challenges in locating and configuring the necessary radios: since standards are still in flux, there may be hidden costs behind the relatively low prices and carriers will likely end up competing over choice locations. To prevent interference, macro cells and small cells need to be coordinated and, while the Small Cell Forum has advocated common, open standards for this, there is a risk that vendor-specific protocols will be the de facto scenario. Other issues are more practical, such as the concern that even though the small cells cost much less than macro equipment, each still needs to have a fast backhaul connection, which is usually wired. Small cells mean more cells in a given area, implying more wires and bandwidth charges for the mobile carrier.

 

Given 6WIND’s focus on delivering solutions for Software Defined Networking (SDN), I was pleased to have a long chat with a couple of executives in Nokia-Siemens Networks’ booth about their Liquid Net initiative. From a branding perspective, the name is an ideal summary of the concept whereby network resources “flow” to where they are most needed, minimizing unused resources and maximizing overall resource utilization. The “Liquid Radio” solution applies Cloud RAN principles to baseband pooling of traffic from active antennas, while the “Liquid Core” virtualizes core network applications to maximize the hardware efficiency and flexibility of the core network.

 

I didn’t get to spend as much time at the show as I would have liked, so I’d be very pleased to hear your views. What were the key trends that you observed? What product announcements were most interesting?

Rugged design is a key requirement for many embedded applications, including industrial automation, mil/aero, and energy. The basic techniques for ruggedization – such as fanless design and minimized component counts – are well understood, but these techniques often conflict with other requirements such as high performance, flexibility, and short time-to-market. For example, it can be difficult to achieve high performance without using power-hungry parts that require fans to keep cool. Similarly, flexibility and short time-to-market are easiest to achieve with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, but COTS designs typically have high component counts than custom designs.

 

Fortunately, the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance can help you get around these conflicting requirements. The 200-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help you speed rugged designs to market. These include a wide range of solutions designed around the latest Intel® architecture (IA) processors, which offer a host of features that benefit rugged designs.  Let’s briefly review these new features and then look at some application examples.

 

New Processors

 

First up, the new 3rd-generation Intel® Core™ processors (formerly codenamed “Ivy Bridge”) are the first to use Intel’s 22 nm fabrication process, which provides up to 20% better performance in the same thermal envelope as the previous generation, making it easier to achieve your performance goals in a fanless design. What’s more, graphics engine has been upgraded to provide an up to 2X boost in 3D performance and support for 3 displays – features that can eliminate the need for a graphics card, thus lowering system power and component counts. To dive deeper, check out my Intel™ Core® processor blog.

 

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Figure 1. The latest Intel Core processors boast significant performance improvements. Note that the data shown here is for a PC-oriented part; performance for embedded parts will differ somewhat.

 

The new Intel® Atom™ processor N200 and D2000 series (formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail”) are similarly upgraded with up to 4X the 3D graphics performance of their predecessors along with 1080p hardware video decode. The new parts also gain major improvements in performance-per-watt – for more details, I recommend my recent Intel Atom processor blog.

 

Example Applications

 

These new processors go a long way towards addressing concerns around performance, power, and component counts, but what about flexibility and time-to-market? That’s where the Alliance comes in. Alliance solutions offer a compelling balance of application-specific optimization and flexibility to help you innovate. In industrial automation, for example, Alliance members offer specialized systems designed for hazardous locations like oil rigs or chemical processing plants. These systems greatly reduce hardware design complexity while retaining the software-design flexibility inherent to Intel® architecture. For example, developers can use the multi-core performance of Intel Core processors to replace real-time hardware with software.

 

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Figure 2. MEN Mikro’s RC1 family of rugged systems is a good example of highly ruggedized equipment

 

Similar concepts apply to energy applications such as smart grids and building automation. Whether you are trying to securing smart grid devices or build home energy management systems, Alliance solutions can help you deliver advanced features on a short timeline. The security and manageability features of IA processors are particularly useful for these applications, and can help give you a leg up over your competitors. To learn more, check out my recent smart grid blog.

 

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Figure 3. The Norco PPC-3112 is well suited to wind power monitoring.

 

In the mil/aero market, the Alliance supports for a wide range of applications including sensing and analytics such as radar, sonar, and video surveillance.  Many of these solutions are designed to address the size, weight, and power (SWaP) concerns that have become so prominent in mil/aero. Virtualization is one key element of addressing this concern – and virtualization is also key to providing military-grade security. To see one example of how the Alliance is bringing virtualization to the battlefield, check out the Radisys white paper Leveraging Virtualization in Aerospace & Defense Applications.

 

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Figure 4. Virtualization allows applications with different security levels to run on the same platform.

 

The links I’ve noted here show just a few examples of the solutions available from the Alliance. To learn more about the Alliance and its solutions, see intel.com/go/embeddedalliance

 

Radisys is a Premier members of the Intel® Embedded Alliance. Norco is and Associate and MEN Mikro is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editor-In-Chief Embedded Innovator magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston

Virtual fitting rooms with 3D body mapping add an interactive fun factor to traditional retail. Using gesture-driven user interfaces, such as Microsoft Kinect* for Windows, virtual fitting rooms give consumers a fast way to try on lots of different outfits and accessories without removing what they’re wearing. Still in the early stages of development and sophistication, these systems hold great promise and opportunities for the ambitious developer looking to make their mark. In this blog, I’m going to take a look at what makes virtual fitting rooms a must-have for retailers and how to achieve the performance levels necessary to meet customer expectations.

 

For traditional retailers, virtual fitting rooms provide a new way to attract customers and encourage them to spend more time in the store. Equally important, especially for the bottom line, virtual fitting rooms offer a solution to the high rate of returns on clothing due to poor fit or a buyer’s second thoughts. According to one source, up to 40 percent of clothing purchased is returned because of a poor fit.

 

For consumers, virtual fitting rooms provide a quick way to try on lots of different items and make better selections. For today’s time-pressed consumer, this can be a real advantage. Virtual fitting rooms are also just plain fun.

 

If you search online for videos showing examples of virtual fitting rooms (see this example), the first thing you notice is that some of the technology seems a bit crude. The garments seem to float on top of the body instead of truly wrapping the body and moving with it.

 

Fortunately, the technology is improving quickly. Bodymetrics, a London-based pioneer in 3D body-mapping, demonstrated its Bodymetrics Pod at CES 2012. A demo video of its imaging capabilities shows the ability to contour the garment around the person’s body and use different colors to show where the fabric would be tight and where it would be loose on a particular person’s body. The technology made its American debut in March 2012 at Women’s Denim Days at Bloomingdale’s in Century City, Los Angeles. Once mapped, customers can not only virtually try on jeans in the store, but they can also later access an online account to model and order additional jeans based on their body shape. Enabling customers to virtually try on jeans can be a real advantage in a store like Bloomingdale’s that stocks hundreds of different jeans styles.

 

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Figure 1. Bodymetrics Pod.

 

To provide such precise body imaging, the Bodymetrics Pod uses eight Kinect for Windows sensors arranged in a circle. Encased in its own enclosure (see Figure 1), the system is secure and private. Software calculates the shape of the person, producing a 3D map complete with hundreds of measurements and contours.

 

To ensure customer engagement, it’s crucial to make all these calculations fast. From their personal computers to their smart phones, consumers are accustomed to sophisticated technology that provides nearly instantaneous results. To deliver that kind of performance, virtual fitting rooms require embedded computing solutions capable of handling hundreds of calculations and rendering images in real time.

 

The good news is it’s easier than ever to cost effectively meet these intense processing and graphics needs. The latest embedded boards using 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors with Intel® HD Graphics 4000/2500 deliver best-in-class compute performance over the previous generation, plus key graphics processing advantages for virtual fitting room applications.

 

Manufactured on industry-leading 22nm process technology with 3D Tri-Gate transistors, 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors yield up to 20 percent better performance in the same thermal envelope as the previous generation. This means these new processors will easily crunch the hundreds of calculations necessary for accurate body mapping fast enough to keep customer engaged and excited about the virtual fitting room experience.

 

Intel’s integrated graphics is an important enabler of this experience. The 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors provide excellent graphics performance—up to 2x in 3D performance—all without the need for an expensive graphics card. In fact, developers could use this processor’s ability to support three independent displays to create a fitting room experience similar to having three angled mirrors. That would really up the ante when competing with other virtual fitting room designs, allowing the viewing of different angles of the body simultaneously, as well as capturing body movements. This could provide a significant competitive advantage for stores looking to impress customers with the latest innovations.

 

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Figure 2. Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor unit.

 

Coupling the Kinect for Windows sensor (see picture) with such a sophisticated processor takes the concept of a virtual fitting room to a new level. Microsoft has made such applications for Kinect for Windows particularly easy by choosing a hardware-only business model. Microsoft will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime, making both available free to developers and end users respectively. This means developers can innovate with confidence knowing that the Kinect for Windows hardware will be supported by Microsoft, and they won’t have to pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates.

 

retail.pngWant to create a better mousetrap for this segment of the retail market? I’d like to hear your thoughts on the combination of Kinect for Windows and a platform based on 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors as the place to start. To learn how Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members can provide these platforms, see intel.com/go/embeddedalliance.

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine

I spent a day this week at Interop in Las Vegas. Interop is always a fascinating show because it covers the whole range of products and technologies that can loosely be termed as “networking”. The exhibits span everything from cables and server enclosures to high-end networking equipment and a wealth of cloud-related software.

 

Given 6WIND’s focus on Software Defined Networking (SDN), it was interesting to see a significant focus on this topic, as well as on OpenFlow which is unquestionably perceived as an unstoppable trend bringing major advantages in terms of network manageability, scalability and testability. I particularly enjoyed a multi-vendor presentation in NEC’s booth, describing their ProgrammableFlow solutions, which featured speakers from Brocade, Extreme Networks, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Radware. It was also interesting to see a multi-vendor interoperability demonstration at the OpenFlow Lab, where OpenFlow controllers and switches from companies like Big Switch, Brocade, Broadcom, Citrix, Extreme Networks, Huawei, HP, IBM, Intel, Ixia, Lyatiss, On-Lab, NEC, NETGEAR, Netscout, Spirent  and Vello Systems appeared to be working together.

 

With all the industry hype around SDN and OpenFlow, it seems that Cisco has been relatively quiet about their plans recently. So the opening keynote address by Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO, was a welcome (and well-attended) kickoff for the show.

 

Warrior began her talk by summarizing her view of the four-stage evolution of networking technology. Following basic connectivity (browser, e-mail, and search) and then the "digital revolution" highlighted by e-commerce and IP telephony, she positioned the current stage as the "networked economy" (social media, mobility and cloud) and described the future as being a "human network" with immersive data and the "Internet of Things".

 

Warrior showed a study indicating that by the end of this year 70% of enterprises will use cloud technology at some level. She mentioned that 56% of companies want desktop virtualization and discussed statistics demonstrating that a cloud-based data center with 1,000 servers or more has a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) 50% less than a traditional data center.

 

A key projection in Warrior’s presentation was that the Internet will double in size every five years. She emphasized that video is, and will remain, the biggest issue for service providers, indicating that video traffic will quadruple between now and the end of 2014, while two-thirds of overall Internet traffic will be video by the end of 2015. She stressed that “the number one priority for CIOs is video” and that the convergence of cloud and mobility is driving new, collaborative work styles that involve massive real-time video traffic.

 

Warrior’s vision of the new “intelligent network” is one that’s designed around six key features: it’s visible, aware (e.g. real-time analytics), secure, programmable, agile and manageable.

 

So what is Cisco’s strategy in this area? Warrior stressed Cisco’s commitment to the concept of SDN, mentioning the recent “spin-in” acquisition of Insieme, and discussed Cisco’s use of OpenFlow to partition the network between the control plane and data plane while providing access and programmability at multiple levels yers within the overall stack. She talked about Cisco’s “Open Programmable Environment” architecture which includes APIs at multiple layers in addition to the control plane and data plane, though she didn’t provide much detail on this (many in the audience seemed to want to know more).

 

Warrior summarized by describing the four principles that Cisco is applying to next-generation networking: customized (tailored) solutions, open ecosystems, partnering and innovation.

 

Were you at Interop this week? What were the key trends that you observed? What product announcements did you see that are most relevant to the topic of multicore packet processing? What did you see as the highlights of this Cisco keynote address?

“Always-on” Internet services are becoming critical to the small and medium business (SMB) sector. Not only are these businesses increasingly data-driven, they depend on reliable Internet access to deliver functions such as voice communications, streaming video and social networks. Security is an integral part of reliability – both for preventing denial-of-service (DoS) and other attacks that can disrupt service, and for creating the confidence necessary to leverage advanced services. Performance is important too -- security and advanced services require specialized processing that is poorly suited to a standard server environment.

 

All of this adds up to a growing market for network appliances that can deliver reliable, advanced Internet services on a budget the SMB market can afford. This is a tough set of requirements, but new Type VI COM Express* modules based on the Intel® Atom processor D2000 and N2000 series (formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail”) are helping meet the need in several ways:

 

•Power consumption

•Performance

•Price and time to market

 

Turning down the power

One requirement of all network appliances is their size; these devices often need to squeeze into crowded server rooms. Nor should they consume power in any way other than a low, steady, and durable manner. From a reliability standpoint, the key concern is the Thermal Design Power (TDP) – the amount of power that a system disperses for cooling to keep processors from reaching or exceeding their maximum junction temperature. Traditionally, most server rooms must be maintained at a temperature of no more than 21º C (71º F), any higher and server chips could blow, right along with a network’s availability. Many SMB server rooms The challenge is even tougher for SMB server room, which often have menial air conditioning that can be easily overwhelmed by the heat thrown off by new equipment.  Thus, keeping power down is essential to ensuring reliability.

 

To address the power problem, Alliance member Portwell introduced the PCOM-B218VG, a dual-core COM Express module that supports the new Intel® Atom™ processors.  These new processors move to a 32 nm process for a 16 percent clock boost over their 45 nm predecessors and a TDP of as low as 3.5 W (using the 1.6GHz Intel® Atom™ N2600 processor). Further, Portwell adjusted their network appliance’s power design to support Deep Sleep states, which when enabled, can drive power consumption under .3 W. Depending on the application, customers can adjust the Deep Sleep mode to attain high levels of system performance or scale down for basic system computing. This huge savings in power consumption predicates a reduction in heat, affording the reliability needed to support high availability (HA), even in the face of demanding applications.

 

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Turning up the performance

Certain applications which may have designers waiting for the ‘but’ moment are those of network storage and Network Video Recording (NVR). NVR, which has become a software mainstay in networking applications for their use in the storage and remote viewing of video, is one such Application Program (AP) that is pushing the limits of software analysis and data integration from the terminal side.  With the increased graphic requirements of NVRs and other such APs, the reasonable assumption would be that power consumption would have to be scaled up dramatically to support these applications.

 

However, the Intel Atom processor D2000 and N2000 series integrate Intel’s Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 graphics engine, which provides power-optimized performance for up to two streams of 1080p MPEG2/WMV9/H.264 video, Blu-ray video, and DirectX 10.1 graphics. The processor also boasts Intel® Streaming SIMD Extensions (Intel® SSE) for optimal multimedia processing and sensing/analytics. These features are supported by up to 4GB DDR3 1066 MHz memory for large, bandwidth-demanding files. All of this performance is provided at the cost of a maximum of 15 W, allowing the demands of next-generation networking to be met in the architectures of today.

 

Another, and perhaps the most significant ability of the PCOM-B218VG, is its application in data security. The 24-7 networks of today process inordinate amounts of data, particularly with the recent explosion in mobile data usage, but this data must remain uncompromised by hackers. For that purpose, Portwell endowed its latest Type VI COM Express module’s firmware with built-in security capabilities for system monitoring such as a cryptographic hash tag function, Flash protection, and ATA secure erase, all while maintaining at the lowest of power consumptions.

 

Harnessing the current

Besides the interoperability advantages granted by the PCOM-B218VG’s LVDS, HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort interfaces, it is packaged in the widely used COTS COM Express architecture. The benefits of the COM Express form factor are widely known and leveraged, particularly for its compact size (the PCOM-B218VG measures a mere 95mm x 95mm) and rich I/O interfaces such as PCIe, USB, and SATA, among others. This allows for the easily implementation of Type VI COM Express modules into existing network systems at low cost, maximum interoperability, and the assurance of Portwell’s long-lifecycle support. Specifically, the PCOM-B218VG is a complete module ready for end-user include into carrier boards without the cost and deployment risks associated with in-house CPU board development. This solution reduces time to market and validation efforts, all while maintaining the simplicity and flexibility to of a product roadmap that is designed to be upgraded or replaced when future generations of Intel processors are deployed, which in turn extends the application lifecycle.

 

More information on the PCOM-B218VG can be found in Portwell Introduces PCOM-B218VG COM Express Module using Intel “Cedar Trail” (Atom D2700/N2800) for Military, Medical, Industrial and Networking Applications, and in-depth coverage of Cedar Trails video processing ability is available in Warren Webb’s Embedded Add-Ons Extend Image Processing Performance. Talk to you soon.

The latest Intel® Atom™ processor family offers significantly improved graphics, energy efficiency, and connectivity, helping OEMs bring advanced features to entry-level retail systems. I just published an article in the Embedded Innovator showing how you can take advantage of these features using retail solutions from the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

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retail-small.pngFor more articles like this, subscribe to the Embedded Innovator. Subscribers receive a bi-annual magazine and quarterly newsletter with the latest industry trends and design ideas. To learn more about bringing intelligence and manageability to retail, see intel.com/go/embedded-retail

 

 

 

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editor-In-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston

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