Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications strategies combined with cloud computing technologies promise to transform the industrial landscape from an assortment of isolated individual systems into a network of interoperable devices. Pervasive M2M connectivity will enable a wide range of applications, services, and performance improvements by exchanging real-time data between remote devices, central servers, and authorized third parties. The major goal of M2M communications is to combine real-time data from remote devices with enterprise applications to automate everyday company decisions in order to optimize industrial output and lower operating costs. M2M technology also allows embedded design teams to contain costs, improve security, enable remote management, and maximize system availability. The problem with the current state of M2M communications is that many embedded interfaces are based on proprietary interconnection and data formatting standards that are unable to freely exchange data with a variety of clients.
In order to deal with the fragmentation problem and provide scalable interoperability and security, Intel recently announced the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. The framework is a set of standard practices for hardware and software development to ensure connectivity, security, and remote management. With this new framework in place, embedded designers can concentrate on the unique features that set them apart from the competition without worrying about the M2M interoperability details. The basic capabilities are provided by software and middleware from Intel®, Wind River, and McAfee plus the hardware features of supported processors including Intel® Xeon® Processors, 2nd and 3rd generation Intel® Core™ Processors with Intel® vPro™ Technology, and Intel® Atom™ processors. To verify adherence to the standard practices outlined in the framework, Intel will validate hardware and software components from members of the Intel® Intelligent SystemsAlliance. Certified products are already available from Advantech, Dell, Kontron, Wind River, and Portwell with products from other Alliance members scheduled to launch over the coming months.
One of the first products available supporting the Intelligent Systems Framework was announced by Wind River at the Intel Developer Forum. The new Wind River Intelligent Device Platform is a software development environment for M2M applications based on the embedded Linux operating system plus middleware (See figure 1). This platform adds the security and manageability required for device development across multiple connectivity options including 3G, Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave. Wind River’s Secure Remote Management is also built-in featuring customizable trusted boot, security updates for Linux, and Trusted Platform Module features. The platform also include a complete set of development tools including Wind River Workbench, based on the Eclipse framework, and the Wind River build system for software integration. The Wind River Intelligent Device Platform is currently scheduled to be available in Q4 2012.
Digi International also joined the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework ecosystem and announced the Digi M2M Solution Builder Kit for M2M applications. Based on the Intel® Atom™ E620T processor combined with a wide range of connectivity options, the kit provides an end-to-end solution, including hardware, software and services to simplify the development of connected M2M devices. The kit includes a certified gateway with all available connectivity options, such as 2G/3G cellular, dual-band Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.15.4 (See figure 2). Future connectivity extensions such as 4G/LTE cellular, Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee can be easily added. The iDigi Device Cloud, a public cloud platform-as-a-service, is a part of the platform and provides remote management and secure data integration to help with the deployment of remote connected devices. The kit includes the Wind River Linux development environment tailored for cloud-connected M2M applications.
These products show how the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework can be used to reduce the development time and cost of connected devices in industrial applications. With this platform in place, design teams can turn their attention to developing value from the massive amounts of data available from integrated M2M structures. If you think that this framework fits your next industrial automation project or if you have already started a project please share your concerns, questions, and successes with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on M2M connectivity. Also, please check back as I uncover more products and services that you can use to extend the performance of your next industrial project.
To learn more about the design of industrial systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial”
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Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Digi International is a General member of the Alliance.