Skip navigation
2013

Announced in June, the Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM) will be the perfect employee—willing to work 24/7 365 days a year for little pay. And this manager will take on an increasing daunting task for organizations running digital signage systems: managing their content and devices across an entire signage network to deliver the right messages to the right audience at the right time.

 

Intel RCM is a new software-based content management system that is fulfilling an increasing critical position in the digital signage world. According to a recent Intel press release, although content management systems will reach 35 million units at a cumulative annual growth rate of 40 percent by 2017, creating, deploying and managing an effective digital marketing campaign is currently a time-consuming and resource-intensive proposition for marketers and businesses. This is particularly true when the screens screaming for content management include nearly every retail device consumers touch—from ATMs and point-of-sale terminals to interactive kiosks and vending machines. The best most signage owners can manage is limited and localized marketing campaigns that fail to deliver reach and impact on a large scale.

 

Already available from Seneca Data Distributors and Avnet Embedded, both Associate members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance, Intel RCM brings sanity to all this chaos. Let’s look at how.

 

Simpler, More Versatile Interface

With digital signage becoming a preferred channel for marketing professionals looking to reach customers with relevant content near the point-of-sale, the ability to create new campaigns and promotions in minutes and launch them on selected screens is more important than ever. Intel RCM provides the powerful, but also easy-to-use interface to do that. It enables non-technical employees to quickly learn how to customize content and control screens in groups or individually across a network. Intel RCM also enables marketers to create multiple zones within each digital sign to handle a variety of formats, including HD video, Adobe Flash*, static images and web content. For a demo, see this video.

 

Right Message to the Right Audience at the Right Time

Some real magic happens when Intel RCM is paired with Intel® Audience Impression Metrics Suite (Intel® AIM Suite). A lot has been written about this anonymous viewer analytics technology in this community, most recently a blog by my Roving Reporter colleague, Tom Starnes. What Intel RCM adds is a smartly integrated interface for tapping Intel AIM Suite’s power to provide more meaningful and relevant advertising to the person standing in front of a particular sign. Intel RCM makes it easy to create targeted content and then configure digital signs employing Intel AIM Suite to identify age and gender and serve up that targeted content when a person fitting the profile comes within range (see Figure 1).

 

AIM Suite Photo.JPG

Figure 1. Intel® Retail Content Manager’s user interface can be used to create age- and gender-targeted content and direct a sign to display it when Intel Audience Impression Metrics Suite recognizes that a person of the right age and gender is in front of the sign. 


 

The other magic that comes from the synergy between Intel RCM and Intel AIM Suite in collecting metrics. Intel RCM can on its own provide audit trails, providing “proof of play” reports for retail management and advertisers. Add Intel AIM Suite to the mix and you can add viewer demographics, dwell time, and average view time to those reports to determine just how effective certain advertising is to each demographic. That’s powerful stuff for use in improving the effectiveness of content and ad spends. These advertising metrics can also play an important role in providing valuable edge analysis for a retailer moving into big data business analytics for up-to-the-moment business insight.

 

Reduced Support Costs

Another great synergy comes from when Intel RCM is used with Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT). Providing out-of-band manageability capabilities when activated in digital  signage players powered by Intel® Core™ or Intel® Xeon® processors, Intel AMT enables remote management and maintenance capabilities that allow IT professionals to query, fix and protect networked media players even when they’re powered off, not responding, or have software issues. What’s more, this technology helps perform remote asset tracking and checks the presence of management agents virtually anytime.

 

Reducing Management and Power Costs with Out-of Band Manageability

Out-of-band manageability features also make the 3rd generation Intel core processors particularly appealing for signage applications. When their Intel® vPro™ technology features are activated, Intel Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) enables remote management and maintenance capabilities that allow IT professionals to query, fix and protect networked media players even when they’re powered off, not responding, or have software issues. What’s more, this technology helps perform remote asset tracking and checks the presence of management agents virtually anytime. Add Intel RCM to your digital signage network and it can provide the interface for technicians to power-cycle machines and repair software issues, along with other device management tasks. A keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) feature enables technicians to control the system as if they were sitting right in front of it.

 

A Manager Willing to Work for Peanuts

Intel’s suggested pricing for Intel RCM is $16.95 per month per media player, which typically covers two digital signs. If a retailer buys media players equipped with 3rd and 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors having the graphics capabilities to power three displays, they make their investment go even further.

 

Intel RCM Certified Media Players

A media player doesn’t have to be certified to run Intel RCM. All it takes is a system running Microsoft Windows* 7, Windows Embedded 7, Windows 8, or Windows Embedded 8. But to help developers, system integrators and retail identify systems that can come with Intel RCM installed, Alliance members are providing certified systems.

 

A good example comes from Seneca. Their HD2.8 High Performance Media Player is a great example  of a small form factor design with expansion capabilities that can even be configured for powering four screens (see Figure 2). Available with a 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor, it provides media play at 720p/1080p at 60 fps. It can be configured with up to 1TB storage and offers both wired and wireless connectivity options.

 

seneca front view.JPG Seneca media player.JPG

Figure 2. Seneca HD2.8 Media Player. Dimensions (w x h x d) 8 x 2.8 x 8 in./203.2 x 71.12 x 203.2 mm.

 

Conclusion

From where I sit, it looks like Intel RCM should be standard equipment in nearly every digital signage system installation. I’d be interested in hearing what others think of this new software and how it will simplify the complexity of managing content in large installations.

 

 

Learn More

Solutions in this blog:

·        Seneca HD2.8 High Performance Media Player

Related topics:

·        Manageability - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

·        Digital Signage - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

 

Seneca Data Distributors and Avnet Embedded are Associate members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

Mark Scantlebury

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

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazi

Pity the poor automotive in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) designer stuck with having to create a balance between these two all but mutually exclusive requirements:1) satisfying the consumer’s expectation and appetite for the newest IVI features and functionality, including the ability to deploy, manage and update Apps; while 2) respecting the long development cycles and safety requirements required by law of automotive OEMs.

 

What is an engineer to do? Fortunately, technology can render assistance. One possible answer now emerging is to partition IVI software into two segments, with the individual ecosystems de-coupled and running on separate market-driven (1) and OEM-driven (2) schedules.  In other words the car’s core, native IVI functions–like vehicle indicators or warnings and car security functions–would continue to be developed on the typical two to five -year automobile OEM cycle and remain subject to safety-critical coding practices. While at the same time automobile head unit integration with handheld devices like smartphones continues at breakneck speed, giving consumers the IVI feature they want most:  a choice of what Apps to add whenever they so choose.


Based on HTML5, the newest version of the HyperText Markup Language--a way to enhance a text file with bits of code (markup) that describes the structure of the document--Tizen is well-suited to ongoing efforts to decouple in-car HMI-based functions. An open platform designed to work with a broad spectrum of devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to in-car systems and even TVs, Tizen also promises to lower the cost of deployment as developers are able to create applications that run on multiple systems (different car brands and various car models within a brand) without lengthy code re-writes. In this way Tizen supports the possibility of a single application store for a variety of automakers.

 

HTML was first developed in the late 80's in order to describe documents that linked to each other. Much has happened in the years that followed, as is evidenced by the fact that we’ve now reached version 5.  HTML5 is built around WebApps, which are small focused applications that can run on a browser or as a mobile application. It has features like offline storage and the ability to handle data even when the app is no longer connected to the Internet. It also has the ability to detect and work with the location of the user and it provides rich media support including easy to implement audio and video elements.

 

With the help of HTML5 it is possible to embed not only video and audio but high quality drawings, charts, animation and many other rich content types without using any plugins or third party programs, as the functionality is built into the browser. This is important since most video and audio files are played through a plug-in like Flash, but not all browsers have the same plug-ins. With HTML5 developers can forget about a Flash Player and/or other third party media players, making video and audio truly accessible. HTML5 also will allow the end user to access cloud-based services through the web browser engine.

 

At the 2013 Tizen Developer Conference (TDC) in San Francisco in May, Matt Jones, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Senior Technical Specialist - Infotainment discussed an IVI proof of concept project using the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL, part of the Linux Foundation) Demonstrator, a runable IVI system available as both a VMWare image and installable on x86 hardware. Built on top of Tizen 1.0 and integrating GENIVI components (the GENIVI Alliance is a non-profit consortium with the goal of “bringing open source software into the car, starting with the most complicated car software system, the IVI unit”) it sports a custom HTML5 GUI (See Fig. 1).

HVAC.png

Figure 1:  HVAC display of the Jaguar Land Rover Tizen IVI demonstrator

 

The JLR IVI and remote vehicle interaction demo, which included participation by AGL, Feuer Labs, Symbio and Symphony Teleca, is based on a Tizen platform provided by Intel and Jaguar Land Rover. According to JLR’s Jones the HVAC system and Media Player proof of concept was developed over the course of just 2 ½ weeks during which time the team:

 

• Integrated the system into a vehicle, including CAN control

• Built out the Media Player and HVAC controls

• Built a backend server in the cloud

• Created a remote control website for the HVAC

 

Jones further said Jaguar Land Rover and Intel worked together to create a base platform that others can build on, including

 

• Tizen 1.0;

• An HTML5 based application environment;

•A server backend to push / pull apps; and

• Complete documentation

 

The target hardware was a Nexcom NDiS 166 (Fig.2), a Linux box employing an Intel® Core™ i5/i7 processor (codenamed Sandy Bridge) with Intel® Integrated Graphics and an Intel® QM67 Platform Controller Hub (PCH). Memory includes 2 x 240-pin DIMM sockets supporting up to 16GB (single socket max. is 8GB) of DDR3 1333/1066MHz non-ECC, un-buffered memory. The totally fanless NDiS 166 can easily support dual full-HD video. Other features include GigE, USB 2.0, SATA (1 x 2.5" SATA HDD Bay), Audio, WI-FI, VGA, GPS, HDMI and provision for a TV tuner and LAN modules.


df0f1386-a9b6-48c3-a296-ed25f9bd6471.jpg


Figure 2 The NexCom NDiS 166

 

The NDiS 166 platform has been tested using the Tizen 3.0-M1 codebase (on July 2nd the IVI team released Tizen 3.0-M1 for In-Vehicle Infotainment). . This is the first milestone image that builds upon the Tizen 3.0 codebase and is paving the way towards the 3.0-M2 (later in 2013) and the final Tizen 3.0 IVI release in the second half of 2014.

 

Tizen 3.0-M1 also has been tested on the NexCom VTC 7120-C4, which adopts the Intel® Celeron® Processor 847E (at 1.1GHz).  In addition it offers dual LAN ports for redundancy and high speed interfaces for storage (2.5" SATA and a CFast slot). Storage is easily accessible from the front side for maintenance concerns. Furthermore, it offers support for two SIM card slots and support for the CAN bus as well as 4 digital inputs, 4 digital outputs and 4-channel PoE with IEEE802.3af.

 

As automotive companies adopt new Vehicle Relationship Management (VRM) tools and systems for software configuration and management, quality control and security integrity of the software have become of particular concern. That’s where companies such as Symphony Teleca Corp., headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., come in. The company, which participated in the Tizen IVI demonstrator as mentioned previously, offers remote software management, telematics and analytics capabilities to help its clients manage the convergence of software, the cloud and connected devices with the added goals of minimizing the cost of vehicle software maintenance, gaining insight into vehicle usage and enriching the possibilities for car owners through feature and application upgrades.

 

Symphony Teleca’s InSight Connect™ VRM is an end-to-end management solution that provides automotive grade, reliable, cost effective application and software provisioning and maintenance, integrated with the OEM's existing systems throughout the connected car lifecycle. InSight Connect’s flexible and modular structure also enables OEMs to extend and fully customize IVI functionality over time.

 

Despite its newness, the AGL Demonstrator has been declared a success, and JLR’s Jones indicated that the plan is to keep it going. The first order of business, he said, is to update it to the more recent Tizen 2.1 release. Following that, the plan is to work on several existing open source components that need to be integrated, including a navigation system, Bluetooth for hands-free telephony, Near-Field Communications (NFC) support, and media playback with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) support.

 

Learn More

 

Solutions in this blog:

Nexcom NDiS 166

Nexcom VTC 7120-C4

Symphony Teleca InSight Connect

 

Related topics:

Interoperability - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

 

NexCom is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Symphony Teleca is a General member of the Alliance

 

Murray Slovick

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

It’s all about the money

Operators of telecom infrastructure, enterprise networks and data centers are increasingly exploring the deployment of network security functions as virtual appliances instead of physical appliances.

There are two obvious business drivers for this trend. The first is reduced CAPEX, resulting from the use of high-volume, standard hardware platforms rather than low-volume proprietary hardware. The second is reduced OPEX, thanks to the improved resource utilization achieved through virtualization. The major focus on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) throughout the telecom industry is a strong indicator of the major cost savings that operators believe to be possible through this strategy of network virtualization.

Additions not replacements

Image 1 for IPsec post.jpgAt 6WIND, most of our customers are network equipment manufacturers and many are working on virtual security appliances, implementing functions like UTMs, IPSs, firewalls etc. But they typically view the virtual appliances as extensions to their current portfolio of physical appliances, rather than immediate replacements.

 

This makes perfect sense given that physical appliances are not going to disappear at any time in the near future. Realistically, we can expect to see the gradual introduction of virtual appliances in scenarios with compelling Return-on-Investment (like NFV), accompanied by exhaustive evaluations to ensure that the cost-performance and especially reliability meet the standards set by physical appliances.

Given our customers’ strategy of introducing virtual security appliances while maintaining their current portfolios of physical appliances, we place great importance on providing a comprehensive set of network protocols that can be deployed in both solutions, with consistent APIs, features and performance.

IPsec everywhere

IPsec is a good example of a protocol that is critical for network security, and 6WIND provides an IPsec solution for both physical and virtual appliances. IPsec is widely used for VPNs in telecom infrastructure (LTE femto gateways, security gateways, GGSNs etc.) as well as in enterprise networking (UTMs, IPSs, firewalls etc.). There are also emerging use cases in multi-tenant data centers, where secure tunnels are increasingly adopted for VM-to-VM communication.

IPsec provides authentication (session management) and data confidentiality (encryption/decryption) at Layer 3. IPsec is actually a suite of protocols, including IKE (Internet Key Exchange), AH (Authentication Header) and ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload) amongst others, with the IPsec standard defining how these protocols communicate.

Offloads maximize CPU utilization

Within IPsec, 3DES, AES, SHA1 and MD5 are all resource-hungry algorithms used for authentication and encryption that are increasingly offloaded to specialized hardware-based engines. This offloading maximizes the availability of CPU resources for running applications, rather than security. Given the large variety of available processor platforms, supporting the appropriate crypto engine is not a simple task and requires a processor-agnostic approach for optimum efficiency. The 6WINDGate™ networking software integrates support for several widely-used crypto accelerators, including:

  • Intel® Communications Chipset 89xx series “Cave Creek” (hardware acceleration)
  • Intel® Multi Buffer Crypto for IPsec Library (software acceleration).


Advanced features, open configuration

6WINDGate provides a high performance IKE daemon, thereby increasing the tunnel establishment rate. The Security Association (SA) look-up mechanism is based on a 16-bit hash table. The Security Policy (SP) mechanism supports either a linear lookup, or a hash table lookup based on SP selector address prefixes, or a trie-based lookup, which can be selected and combined based on configurable thresholds.

6WINDGate also supports open, standard Linux-based APIs, enabling the SA and SP databases (SAD and SPD) to be configured by third-party IKE control plane modules. In order to minimize the latency of the system, both SPD and SAD are located in shared memory. Through its support of IKEv1, IKEv2 and Anti Replay features for security re-enforcement, as well as NAT traversal for enabling IPsec in complex networks, the 6WIND IPsec module addresses a wide range of common usage scenarios.

Industry-leading IPsec performance for physical appliances

Thanks to its optimized architecture and advanced features, 6WINDGate delivers industry-leading IPsec performance for physical appliances.

Image 2 for IPsec post.png

For example, on a 2.7GHz dual-socket Intel “Sandy Bridge” platform (two 8-core processors) with 16GB RAM, 6WINDGate achieves IPsec performance of 5.4 Gbps per core (1,420-byte packets), for a total platform performance of 73 Gbps using 14 cores.

(Why 14 cores? Because the reference platform has seven NICs and a configuration with seven cores represents the best way to balance the traffic.)

Besides the raw performance, the graph illustrates that the IPsec performance scales linearly with the number of cores configured to run the 6WINDGate fast path. This scalability is a key benefit of the 6WINDGate architecture, explained in more detail here.

What about IPsec for virtual appliances?

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, where we’ll explain how 6WINDGate addresses the networking performance constraints imposed by standard hypervisors and discuss the IPsec performance that 6WINDGate delivers for virtual security appliances.

Australia may be the smallest continent, but it is still a large country. The challenging climate and population distribution provide unique transportation hurdles. Most residents live within 50 km of the coast in two "crescent" shaped areas, one in the southeast and a smaller one on the southwest coast. The country's rail system, mostly single track lines, is the main link for freight within these regions and passes through the arid bush country to link them.

 

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) was faced with having to replace long-serving, far-flung track infrastructure, such as trackside train safety signals. The ARTC decided that rather than simply replacing existing equipment, it would endeavor to modernize the system with communications and networking technologies that would improve safety, increase efficiency, and save operating costs. This past May the Australian government funded the first stage of implementing the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS), one of the most sophisticated types in the world, developed by Lockheed Martin along with partners such as MEN Mikro Elektronik. ARTC noted that the cost of putting ATMS in place is roughly equal to the expense of replacing existing technology without adding any modern benefits.

 

MENMikro1.jpg

 

"ATMS is a smart train management system that can locate and control trains on the network allowing them to travel at closer intervals safely and has collision avoidance systems and remote braking override to help prevent accidents," notes John Fullerton ARTC CEO. "It will transform the rail industry in Australia by substantially increasing capacity and avoid the need to build additional tracks and sidings."

 

Features and benefits

ATMS is targeted at improving rail capacity, operational flexibility, service availability, and safety and reliability, while cutting transit time. The system:

  • Replaces trackside signaling with in-locomotive displays for drivers
  • Furnishes GPS-based exact train location, front and rear
  • Utilizes digital network control centers, each of which could control all network traffic to serve as a back up if one center should fail
  • Enforces track authorizations on each locomotive
  • Provides switch settings, automatic route clearances, and voice and data communications to locomotives via Telstra 3G National Network

 

The anticipated benefits include:

  • Increasing rail capacity via closer train operation
  • Improving reliability with better on-time performance
  • Greater network flexibility and efficiency
  • Safety improvements through speed limit enforcement and track authorizations
  • Cost savings from reduced trackside infrastructure maintenance, lower fuel consumption, and less wear on rolling equipment

 

Computer requirements

The safety-critical computing system for control centers developed by MEN Mikro Elektronik for the ATMS partitions applications on a single platform—built with standard COTS components. The architecture is based on a CompactPCI® - CompactPCI Serial hybrid configuration and is certifiable up to SIL 4.

 

Management of network control center train authorizations, communications, and network controller requests runs on a Wind River VxWorks® certified safe operating system on either one or two computers with deterministic operation and extensive built-in test features—with three RISC processors running in lockstep mode with two-out-of-three voting . Ethernet is integrated using a P511 PCI mezzanine card, with an M66 M-Module providing binary I/O.#_msocom_2

 

Twin F19P Intel® Core™ processor-based CompactPCI PlusIO single board computers connected to an Ethernet switch and four hard disk drives running Linux handle the wireless interface between the control center management and trainborne or trackside systems, provide the graphical user interface to the network controllers, and "propose" controller requests to the authorization system.

 

Key enabler

When asked to highlight the key technology in the ATMS computing system, MEN Mikro's Robert Kueffner, member of the product management team, notes the redundant architecture for important components. Most common is a triple-redundant system where three CPUs or systems are "polled" for two-out-of-three voting—a problem with one will see it isolated and the remaining two continuing operations.

 

But Kueffner cautions that to lower failure probability, diversity is important. "Through [employing] different CPUs (types or generations such as Core 2 Duo and i5 CPU), operating systems, or software, you can make sure that not all of the redundant systems will fail because of the same, common cause," he says.

 

While the easiest solution with modular systems would be simply to triple the number of cards, Kueffner notes such an approach requires triple space, power, and potential software complexity for voting. Instead, by taking redundancy down to the board level, power, space, and development costs are saved and software is simplified. The example above shows a design where the hardware was developed according to specific safety standards, making it safe from the beginning. The processors are completely synchronized in lockstep mode and the software "sees" one unit. This integration also shortens the certification process for the complete system.

 

A different hardware approach combines two redundant Intel® Atom™ processors on one 3U CompactPCI board for safety, along with independent RAM and flash (for greater safety), and a third processor controlling the I/O interfaces. Two clustered cards provide higher system availability. Being a COTS product certifiable to SIL 4, MEN’s solution (F75P) also simplifies implementation of functional safety in embedded systems, while saving space and cost (see below).

 

MENMikro2.jpg

 

Development challenges

Kueffner says the highest hurdles in developing safe railway systems are that operators require these to have long term availability, at a minimum of 15 years. Development and certification can add another five years to the timeline for having the same chip available and working.

 

"The MEN CompactPCI family solves this problem in its own way. As all boards are 100% pin-compatible with the same front I/O, you can easily change an older CPU-card, e.g. F14 with an Intel® Pentium® M processor on it, with a successor board like the F21P, which uses the current Intel i7 processor," he highlights (see below). "The system is still working, but needs re-certification, which adds costs. From a customer’s point of view, long-term availability of the processor components would be a preferable solution."

 

MENMikro3.jpg

 

Finally, Kueffner notes, "Especially in the railway market, Intel processors are very popular. Because of their large [production] volume, they are considered tried, tested, and well suited for safety-critical applications. But typical features like overclocking, power safe modes, interrupts, and DMA structures have to be disabled, because for safety-critical applications deterministic behavior is a must.”

 

Learn More

Solutions in this blog:

Related topics:

 

MEN-Mikro Elektronik is an Affiliate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

     Contact MEN_Mikro>>

 

Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the Alliance.

     Contact Wind River>>

 

 

Rick DeMeis

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance

Follow me on Twitter: @rickdemeis

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: