“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:
•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.
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.