Extreme! That is my one-word summary for the Intel Develop Forum 2014 (IDF 2014). Whether you are into the extremely small or the extremely powerful, this show was the place to be. By far the biggest news of the show was the production release of the postage-stamp-size Intel® Edison Module. This platform has been covered extensively elsewhere (see PC Pro and CRN, for example), so I won’t go into the details here. But did you know that Intel gave the modules to attendees for free? How cool is that!
There was lots of other extremely tiny tech at the show, all centered around the Internet of Things (IoT). First up was the new Intel® Galileo Gen 2 Development Board. This Arduino-certified board has been upgraded with power of Ethernet (PoE) support, 12-bit pulse-width modulation (PWM), and a variety of other enhancements. As before, the board is powered by the Intel® Quark™ SoC X1000 for robust performance at low power.
There were tons of cool demos based on Intel Galileo. One of my favorites was from HCL, an Affiliate member of the Intel® Internet of Things Alliance (Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance). This demo used Intel Galileo as a smart building gateway that could be controlled with any Android* device – even a smart watch! To prove the point, HCL let me play with a watch and a tablet, showing how I could control the lights, air conditioning, and so on. The photo below doesn’t really do the demo justice – it was a lot of fun!
There were also several demos that used Intel Galileo boards as edge devices, and connected them together using the Intel® Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things (Intel® Gateway Solutions for the IoT). I particularly liked the pipeline inspection demo that Intel built using the UTX-3115 gateway from Premier member Advantech. This demo showed how you could collect data from parts of a pipeline that are not connected to a network. Specifically, it uses an Intel Galileo-equipped drone to fly out to the remote location, gather sensor data, and then physically return the data back to the gateway for processing and action. The video below shows how it all works…
Of course, the other big news at IDF was the announcement of the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 v3 series. The new chips implement the Haswell architecture and boast up to 12 cores per processor (up from 10), DDR4 memory (vs. DDR3), Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) 2.02, and a variety of other enhancements. Intel reports that these changes boost performance by up to 3X. That’s quite an impressive number, and you may wonder what you can realistically expect for your applications. To get a better idea of the real-world performance, Intel put together a long list of benchmarks on various servers.
The tests from Associate member Super Micro are likely to be particularly useful. These include a variety of integer and floating-point tests, as well as energy efficiency results. Among other things, these tests illustrate the benefits of Intel® AVX 2.02, which offers an up 2X per-cycle throughput improvement for vector operations. This upgrade is crucially important for signal- and image-processing applications like communications, radar, and medical imaging.
A large number of Alliance members announced hardware based on the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 series. In addition to Super Micro, I saw products from ADLINK, Artesyn, Radisys, Dell, HP, and many others. Most of these solutions are already listed in our Solutions Directory. I’ll highlight a few notable examples here.
Super Micro’s latest version of its MicroBlade platform certainly stands out for squeezing an incredible amount of compute power into a dense space. Its enclosure supports up to 196 dual-processor nodes per 42U rack – in other words, and incredible 4,704 cores per rack. (The system can go up 5,488 cores with enterprise-class 14-core processors vs. the embedded-class 12-core processors we have discussed so far in this blog.)
I was also intrigued by the Radisys ATCA-4700. This ATCA blade packs in up to 24 cores of processing power, up to 512Gb of DDR4 memory via 8 VLP DIMM sockets, and dual- or quad-40GbE ports via backplane I/O. The back plane I/O is particularly notable, as it enables up to 160 Gbps to the fabric in an active-active configuration. This throughput is possible thanks to the board’s use of the new Intel® Ethernet Controller XL710 Family, which provides flexible 10/40 gigabit Ethernet connections – I plan take a closer look at this controller in an upcoming blog. As you might expect, Radisys says that the blade is suitable for applications that require high performance and high density I/O, including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), packet processing, and video optimization.
Last but certainly not least, I was impressed by the activity around the Wind River Titanium Cloud Ecosystem. This new program validates hardware and software for use with Wind River’s Carrier Grade Communications Server, creating a set of interoperable solutions for network functions virtualization (NFV). Since its launch earlier this year, the program has been steadily gathering new participants. The big news at IDF was the addition of Kontron, which has just certified its Symkloud MS2910 platform. This high density 2RU, 21-inch deep modular platform is designed with 10G redundant switching for OpenFlow, and uniquely packages multiple Intel® processors with dedicated memory and storage. I’ll have more on this platform and its integration with Wind River software in an upcoming blog.
There was much, much more to see at the show. If you couldn’t make the event, I hope we’ll see you next time!
Solutions in this blog:
ADLINK, Advantech, Dell OEM, and Kontron are Premier members of the Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance. Artesyn Embedded Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, Radisys, and Super Micro Computer Inc. are Associate members of the Alliance.HCL Technologies Ltd is an Affiliate member.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance
Editor-In-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine
Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston