With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Factory, today’s manufacturers seek industrial devices that can:
- Deliver enhanced connectivity, performance, and operational insight
- Fit in space-constrained environments on the factory floor
- Provide the necessary multicore computing power to consolidate multiple operating systems (OSs) and their applications
- Deliver real-time, deterministic performance in virtualized environments
- Run securely and reliably in 24x7 operating conditions
This is a tall order. To help developers fill it and deliver the real-time intelligence and control needed to improve how factories run, Intel introduced in 2015 the 5th generation Intel® Core™ processor product family (H-processor line). Engineered to drive high capability and value into IoT usage models, these processors deliver higher performance, enhanced manageability, richer graphics support, and deeper security technologies to enable compact, yet powerful solutions that perform day in and day out.
Two small form factor boards from members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance already are available with these advanced processors. But before we dive into them, let’s take a deeper look at the processor enhancements that make these boards so ideally suited to industrial use.
5th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors
Manufactured on Intel’s industry-leading 14 nm process technology with 2nd generation 3D Tri-Gate transistors, 5th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors deliver powerful CPU performance. The 47W TDP processors include a number of features that make them a top choice for industrial automation:
- Quad-Core Design – With four cores and Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology to double the available threads, these processors deliver the requisite performance for a wide range of heavy and virtualized workloads.
- Integrated Graphics – The processors feature the latest Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 6200, allowing them to deliver clear, crisp visuals for HMI without a discrete graphics card. Graphics include support for Ultra HD 4K resolution and up to three independent displays.
- Security – The silicon-level security of these processors includes Intel® OS Guard to help protect a connected device and its data against tampering and malware without impacting system operations. Intel® Data Protection Technology with BIOS guard protects firmware from modification.Data in transit from Secure Key technology and new extensions to Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) that accelerate cryptography and reduce its load on the processor.
- Manageability – With Intel® vPro™ Technology enabled, these processors offer enhanced remote, out-of-band manageability. This technology helps reduce maintenance costs and repair time, as well as helps maintain strong, efficient, resilient operation.
- Flexibility – Intel® Flex I/O supports fast conectivity and flexibility in assigning a variable number of integrated I/O technologies including SATA 6.0 Gbps, USB 3.0, and PCI Express* 2.0 ports.This flexibility enables these processors to fit a wide range of configuration needs (Figure 1).
- Power Management – The processor’s automated low-power states help reduce energy costs by adjusting power consumption based on real-time processor loads.
- Virtualization – Tthe processors include Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) to speed the transfer of platform control and movement of data between the virtual machine monitor (VMM) and other platform agents (including guest OSs and I/O devices). Lowering the workload on the VMM, this technology addresses design challenges like migrating legacy software, increasing real-time performance, and making applications more secure.
- Operating System Support – 5th generation Intel® Core™ processors support Linux*, Wind River* VxWorks* RTOS, and Microsoft Windows*. Through virtualization, the processors can support multiple OSs at the same time, such as a RTOS for real-time synchronization and an OS for HMI.
- Optional Error Correcting Code (ECC) Memory Support – When enabled by the board manufacturer, the processors’ ECC support enables detection of multiple-bit memory errors. Correction of single-bit errors allows system to keep running.
Figure 1. Block diagram shows rich I/O of the 5th generation Intel® Core™ processor product family.
Small Form Factor Boards Featuring 5th Generation Intel® Core® Processors
Boards using these new advanced processors enable traditionally separate subsystems – such as motion control, programmable logic control (PLC), human machine interface (HMI), and machine vision – to be combined into a single solution. The combined solution can host real-time and general-purpose applications together as if each was running on its own dedicated computer.
Axiomtek, an Associate member of the Alliance, offers an excellent example of a board to power such a solution: the CEM880 COM Express Type 6 module (Figure 2). Available with either the Intel® Core™ i7-5850EQ or i7-5700EQ processor, this board includes one onboard 4 GB extended temperature DDR3L chip, and one 204-pin SO-DIMM DDR3L socket supporting up to 8 GB. Delivering outstanding computing performance, low power consumption, wide temperature range, and seismic design, this rugged basic-size system-on-module (SoM) drives IoT innovation and is ideal for industrial automation and energy applications.
Figure 2. Axiomtek’s CEM880 COM Express Type 6 module
In conjunction with Axiomtek’s baseboard CEB94006 or a user-supplied carrier board, the CEM880 module supports one PCIe x16 v3.0, eight PCIe x1 devices, and a maximum up to 24 lanes of PCIe to provide rich I/O options. The processor’s Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 6200 and Intel® HD Graphics 5600 give the CEM880 significantly improved graphics and media performance and the ability to accommodate the growing trend of high definition display needs. Graphics outputs include VGA, LVDS and three DDI ports supporting HDMI/DVI/DisplayPort.
Other I/O includes four SATA-600 with Intel® Smart Response Technology, 1 GB Ethernet supporting Wake-on-LAN, HD audio, one LPC interface, one SPI interface, four channels in and out Digital I/O, eight USB 2.0, and four USB 3.0. Furthermore, for manageability, security and reliability, the module supports hardware monitor, TPM 1.2, SMBus, and Watchdog Timer.
MSC Technologies, an Affiliate member of the Alliance, also makes a COM Express module using 5th generation Intel Core processors. The MSC C6B-8SB module is available with either the Intel Core i7-5850EQ or the i7-5700EQ processor and supports triple independent displays, fast low-power DDR3L-1600 memory, and USB 3.0 (Figure 3). In addition to an extensive set of interfaces and features, the MSC C6B-8SB uses Intel® Turbo Boost capabilities for both CPU and graphics controller to deliver more processing or graphics performance to the application that needs it at any particular point in time. It also makes use of Intel’s hardware-based security features to enable trusted computing as specified by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) .
Figure 3. MSC Technologies’ MSC C6B-8SB COM Express Type 6 module.
The module’s Type 6 pin-out allows direct access to the latest digital display interfaces like DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI. Four USB 3.0 interfaces support the fastest peripheral devices currently available.
Start Your Own Industrial Revolution
The Axiomtek and MSC boards covered above are a just a few of the industrial-strength products available from Alliance members that incorporate Intel® Core™ processors or other multicore Intel® processors. You will find more industrial solutions in our Solutions Directory. You can also browse this community for more insights on industrial solutions.
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Solutions in this blog:
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Editor-in-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine