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22 Posts authored by: wwebb

As factory infrastructures transition to cloud compatibility and the number of interconnected intelligent devices grows, a host of company benefits and new business opportunities are possible. For example, the large volumes of data generated from a fully connected enterprise can be used to predict failures, simplify management, reduce support costs, and even generate new revenue streams from smart services. In addition, with cloud-based communications, device manufacturers can offer a variety of after sale services including remote product updates, failure detection, and on-site repairs to reduce customer support costs and personnel.  However, in order to reach the goal of a fully unified manufacturing facility, design teams must overcome a variety of equipment fragmentation problems caused by incompatible connectivity, management, and security technologies employed in an assortment of embedded devices.

 

To address the fragmentation and product interoperability issues in the intelligent systems market Intel recently announced the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. The framework is a set of standard practices for hardware and software development to simplify connecting, managing, and securing embedded devices and data in a standardized, reliable, and scalable manner. With this new framework in place, designers can eliminate the detailed analysis and verification of connections and functionality as new devices are added to a network.  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 validates hardware and software components from members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance to build an inventory of Intelligent Systems Framework-Ready Products.

 

Alliance member Eurotech offers a number of industrial-grade products targeting factory applications that have been tested for readiness with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. For example the Eurotech Helios Programmable Edge Controller provides a flexible hardware platform with enhanced wired or wireless connectivity that enables simplified data acquisition and integration (See figure 1). The controller can be used to collect data from multiple distributed devices, summarize or condense the readings, and then transmit the information to a central processing center. The Helios platform is powered by the Intel® Atom™ Z5xx processor at 1.1 to 1.6 GHz and is programmable to run customer specific application software using Wind River Linux 3.0 or Windows Embedded Standard or Windows CE 6.0 operating systems. Connectivity choices allow users to select wired Gigabit Ethernet or pre-certified wireless modules for cellular, Bluetooth and others dependent upon technology or carrier preferences. Other I/O options include a multimedia card for display and audio, USB 2.0/serial ports, and a GPS system plus antenna.

 

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Eurotech has also developed proprietary technologies that are compatible with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework and further simplify intelligent device development. From the communications perspective, the Everyware Cloud is a software platform that provides a simplified method to connect cloud-ready devices to enterprise systems and/or applications (See figure 2). The platform provides a low bandwidth, cloud-based communications, storage, and analysis capability allowing designers to lower network costs with an open and optimized protocol for device data transport. All the platform features are accessible through a standard application program interface (API) interface so that remote machine to machine (M2M) data can be easily integrated with information technology applications. The Everyware Cloud technology enables customers to make on the spot business decisions based on real-time data coming from the intelligence at the edge of the network.


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The Everyware Software Framework (ESF) is another Eurotech technology that provides an integrated hardware and software infrastructure to enable application-ready platforms (See figure 3). ESF is an inclusive software framework that puts a layer between the operating system and the customer application, with industry standard interfaces that shorten custom development time, simplify coding, and deliver software that can be easily ported from one Eurotech hardware platform to another.  Device drivers are approached as services, implemented using simple APIs instead of complex code and removing the need to modify low level operating system code or configuration files. Because ESF is based on standardized open software backed by large industry companies, developers can easily port existing applications from third parties to their own devices.


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The Eurotech Helios Programmable Edge Controller and software technologies discussed here are excellent examples of industrial products already available from alliance members that are compatible with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. These products allow intelligent systems developers to immediately start extracting value from M2M data and bypass the lengthy verification of interconnectivity, system security, and remote management. You can keep up with the latest products and articles on the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework at the Top Picks webpage.  If you are ready to start an intelligent industrial automation project requiring remote management and security, please share your questions and comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.

 

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Eurotech is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance


As industrial designers incorporate remote, fully interconnected factory equipment to reduce costs and simplify maintenance, the exposure to data disruptions or system cyber attacks becomes apparent.  According to the 2013 Internet Security Threat Report published by Symantec Corporation, manufacturing was the most-targeted sector in 2012 with 24 percent of all attacks, compared with 15 percent in 2011. In addition, the research detected a 42% increase overall in cyber attacks in 2012 compared to 2011. Similarly, Verizon recently released the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) which found that manufacturing is the highest targeted industry (33%) by those motivated by industrial espionage. In these attacks, cyber thieves were trying to access intellectual property, product designs, and trade secrets. The DBIR analyzes data from 19 organizations — covering more than 47,000 reported security incidents and 621 confirmed data breaches from the past year. The manufacturing sector also is one of 18 critical infrastructure sectors established under the United States Department of Homeland Security National Infrastructure Protection Plan to enable assessment of national, cross-sector critical infrastructure protection and resilience programs.

 

To deal with these potential disruptions, designers are devising techniques to protect or harden important and vulnerable elements of the industrial infrastructure. In fact, security precautions have changed the basic design goals for many industrial embedded devices. Designers are no longer just motivated to produce the simplest, lowest cost device for each project but must now strengthen systems with faster, more capable processors, secure data storage, and tamper-proof communications to simultaneously protect the software structure and data while executing the manufacturing function. To assist in this new industrial design approach, Intel has devised an overall framework combined with state of-the-art architecture to provide multiple security strategies that designers can employ to defend individual devices and the overall plant infrastructure.


One of the most recent security enhancement announcements is the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework  used to simplify connecting, managing, and securing embedded devices (See figure 1). The framework eliminates the man-hours spent analyzing and verifying interconnections and secure operation as new devices are added to an existing network. The framework combines processor architecture, operating systems, and other software to create ready-to-run, secure, and interoperable platforms for intelligent systems.  Addressing security, the framework provides flexible recipes using scalable, off-the-shelf elements for platform, software, and data protection. For example, the firmware BIOS must be based on the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) specification version 2.1 or greater to enable Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) Development Kit support for measured boot and secure boot. The framework also includes software and operational middleware from Wind River, McAfee, and Intel® for secure communications and manageability without sacrificing performance.


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The framework leverages system processors with Intel® vPro™ Technology (Intel® vPro) providing built-in hardware support for remote management, virtualization, and platform security functions. This technology allows designers to activate, reconfigure, and if necessary, deactivate a remote embedded system. Intel® vPro™ technology capabilities are embedded in hardware so they can be accessed and administered independently from the operating system and software applications. Intel® vPro™ includes several features that provide hardware support for platform security. Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) delivers certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks to minimize attack opportunities along with complete isolation for rapid repair of compromised systems. Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) increases system performance and reliability with hardware support for virtualization software to safely separate and isolate security-critical applications running on the same system. In addition, Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT) protects embedded devices against rootkit and other system level attacks with an industry-standard Trusted Platform Module device to store key encryption components and protected data.

 

A low risk way to take advantage of the security features of Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework and Intel® vPro™ technologies is to integrate products that have been certified or tested for readiness. For example, Avalue subsidiary BCM Advanced Research has announced a series of industrial computers that are designed to support the framework, Intel® AMT and Intel® TXT technologies.  Based on Mini-ITX form factor motherboards, the BI255-67QMD series is equipped with the Intel® QM67 Express Chipset and supports Intel® 2nd generation Mobile Core™ i7, Core™ i5, Core™ i3 or Celeron® processors (See figure 2).


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Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance members also provide variety of off-the-shelf boards and systems that include the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework and Intel® vPro™ technologies. For example, the Advantech AIMB-273 Mini-ITX motherboard and the Portwell PCOM-B219VG COM Express module are framework-ready products supporting industrial embedded applications. These products allow industrial designers to start new projects with pre-tested hardware and software components to ensure that devices and systems include security provisions for built-in threat management. If you are ready to start an industrial project requiring a protected infrastructure, please share your questions and comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.

 

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Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Contact Advantech>>

Portwell is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Contact Portwell>>

Avalue-BCM is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems AllianceContact Avalue>>

Wind River is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems AllianceContact Wind River>>

McAfee is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems AllianceContact McAfee>>

 

Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

With fully interconnected embedded devices now the norm in many factory settings, industrial design teams are implementing predictive maintenance strategies to reduce downtime, lower personnel costs, and increase production. There are basically three different approaches to equipment maintenance in any setting:

  1. Reactive: Run equipment until it fails then repair
  2. Preventative: Periodic shutdown to test and replace worn parts
  3. Predictive: Monitor equipment continually and repair as needed

The goal of predictive maintenance is to pinpoint when a failure is going to occur so that repairs can be made at a convenient time before the breakdown actually happens. Successful predictive maintenance requires real-time monitoring and analysis of important equipment parameters via remote sensors, management tools, and diagnostics along with universal connectivity.

 

To simplify this remote data collection process, Intel has developed a number of technologies that can be implemented in embedded systems supporting industrial automation applications.  One of the most recent introductions is the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework (Intel® ISF) to simplify connecting, managing, and securing embedded devices. Intel® ISF combines processor architecture, operating system software, and other tools to create secure, interoperable platforms for intelligent systems.  The framework is built around system processors with Intel® vPro™ Technology (Intel® vPro ) providing built-in hardware support for remote management, virtualization, and platform security functions that can be used to extend the uptime of industrial embedded systems.


Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) is a key element of Intel® vPro that enables real-time data collection from production equipment sensors that can be used in predictive maintenance analysis. Intel® AMT delivers certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. This technology gives device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage required software updates from a remote location. In the event of a software failure, Intel® AMT enables a remote boot from an external operating system image over the network even if the system kernel has been completely corrupted. Most of this reboot process can be done with automated scripting and little human interaction which can significantly lower system downtime.

Several members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance offer off-the-shelf Intel® AMT compatible processor platforms that designers can incorporate into industrial systems to collect the necessary data. For example, the CEQM77 COM Express module family from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance member Radisys combines a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Intel QM77 Express chipset in a 95mm x 125mm form factor for high performance industrial applications (See figure 1). The CEQM77 supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL graphics, up to 16GB of error correcting code (ECC) memory plus one PCI Express 3.0 x16 PEG port and seven PCI Express 2.0 x1 ports.  The module provides Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support as well as support for Intel® AMT enabling remote access and diagnostics via the Radisys Embedded Software Platform (eSP).


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The analysis portion of a predictive maintenance strategy can range from simply verifying that remote measurements are within pre-established limits to much more involved prognostic algorithms. For example, the Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems (IMS) at the University of Cincinnati has developed a Watchdog Agent Prognostics Toolkit that includes algorithms for neural networks, logistics regression, Gaussian mixture modeling, and statistical pattern recognition that can be used to detect and predict faults in everything from critical factory machinery to human organs (See figure 2). The toolkit adds signal processing and analysis functionality to the LabVIEW system design software suite from Alliance member National Instruments. There are five basic steps in the IMS approach to prognostics: data acquisition, feature calculation, principal component analysis, fault classification and health monitoring, and health prediction.


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With remote data collection enabled by Intel® AMT in operation, industrial designers can implement multiple condition-based maintenance strategies to foresee equipment failures and reduce downtime. If you are involved in a predictive maintenance project requiring remote equipment management and data analysis, please share your questions and comments 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 industrial systems maintenance.

 

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance


Radisys and National Instruments are Associate members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

As industrial manufacturers increase the use of computer-controlled production line machinery and equipment to improve product quality and lower costs, the need for continuous process observation becomes vital. Intelligent system monitoring technology can be used in these critical industrial applications to detect abnormal conditions and allow users to take immediate action to eliminate waste and reduce downtime. These built-in, self-diagnostic systems are used in factory settings to avoid the waste and long periods of downtime required with a production line shutdown and restart. This blog will take a look at an example of an intelligent monitoring application from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance member Advantech along with available hardware and software to simplify your next industrial design project.

 

The Advantech technical support website lists a number of applications where products based on Intel technology provide intelligent monitoring functions as a part of the manufacturing process. For example, the Solar Cell Test case study describes a subset of the automatic test and measurement equipment needed in a solar panel production facility (See figure 1). Through the use of pick-and-place motion control technology, solar cells are placed on a conveyer belt and then accurately monitored with discrete sensors and machine vision as they pass through each stage of the inspection procedure. The Advantech UNO-3084 dual-core embedded controller and integrated with a PCI-1202U AMONet communications card delivers commands for real-time motion control and status monitoring. AMONet is a hybrid RS-485-based fieldbus delivering high speed, deterministic communications with a 20 Mbps transfer rate. The controller can scan 1024 digital I/O channels within 1.04ms and manage up to 256 axes for motion control.

 

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The embedded controller used in this case study is just one example of Advantech’s wide selection of industrial computers based on Intel architecture. For example, the ARK-2105L high performance embedded computer designed around the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ architecture is one of the most recent additions  (See figure 2). This new system is equipped with the Intel® Core™ i3/i7-3517UE processor and QM77 Express chipset plus multiple I/O ports for communicating with intelligent monitoring peripherals.  The ARK-2105L includes a number of features for rugged embedded applications including input power ranges from 12V to 24V, temperature ranges from -20° C to 60° C, structural strengthening, and easy expansion capabilities. The processor also includes a number of performance features that target industrial applications that require high-speed, high-definition image analysis and multiple video displays. The built-in Intel® HD Graphics technology provides up to 16 execution units with DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.1 support.

 

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Also supporting intelligent monitoring functions, Advantech recently announced SUSIAccess V2.0, a remote device management software application compatible with all their embedded platforms (See figure 3). SUSIAccess allows system designers to centralize monitoring and managing of remote embedded devices in real-time by automatically collecting device data and providing logs for remote management. The application monitors essential device status information including temperature, voltage, fan speed, signal strength, and remaining battery power. When errors occur, SUSIAccess notifies the administrator via warning popups and e-mail alerts. If there is a major system crash, the system automatically reboots in order to run diagnostics and deploy system recovery procedures. SUSIAccess is preloaded on all Advantech platforms and contains an on-demand software platform in the cloud, providing new applications and software updates.

 

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In addition to the intelligent monitoring features described above, software developers addressing industrial automation applications can take advantage of Intel® vPro Technology to access, control, and reconfigure a remote embedded system. vPro includes Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) with certificate-based security for remote access regardless of the operational status of the system. This technology provides industrial automation support teams an economical method to monitor, manage, and control a large number of production platforms from a central location. If you are ready to start an industrial automation project requiring intelligent monitoring please share your questions and comments 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 remote management.

 

industrial.pngTo learn more about the design of industrial automation systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial

 

manageability.jpgTo view other community content on Manageability, see "Manageability - Top Picks” 

 

Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

Industrial manufacturers are always looking for faster and more efficient factory automation systems to increase production rates and lower costs while extending their lifecycle to interact with multiple generations of technology. At the same time, the demand for faster response times, complex functionality, and instant data access extends the embedded design challenge. To meet these evolving requirements, designers have transitioned to high performance architectures with multiple processing units to boost performance through parallel processing and to minimize hardware costs by combining platforms.  Although developers have access to multiple techniques to enable this performance gain including symmetric or asymmetric multiprocessing and virtualization, the Open Computing Language (OpenCL) framework combined with Intel architecture delivers a unique technology to significantly improve the speed and responsiveness for a wide range of industrial applications.

 

OpenCL is an open, royalty-free standard for parallel programming of heterogeneous platforms with multiple processing units (See figure 1). Programmers can write a single portable program that employs all the computing resources in a multi-core platform such as the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ family formerly codenamed Ivy Bridge. OpenCL extends the power of the graphics processing unit beyond graphics and allows any application to access to the graphics processing unit for non-graphical computing.  The open standard includes a language for writing kernel functions and application programming interfaces (APIs) that are used to define and control the individual parallel platforms. OpenCL is maintained by the Khronos Group consortium and the latest version, OpenCL 1.2, was released in November 2011. You can download the core API and SPIR (Standard Portable Intermediate Representation) specification, headers, and documentation from the Khronos website.

 

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Intel is a contributing member of the Khronos Group consortium and provides a software development kit (SDK) implementing the OpenCL standard optimized for Intel processors running Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. The Intel® OpenCL SDK makes it easy for developers to design, build, debug, and profile OpenCL applications targeting Intel processors. Now available for free download, the Intel® OpenCL SDK 1.5 is fully conformant with the OpenCL 1.1 specification for the CPU and with Microsoft Windows 7 operating systems. In addition, Intel recently released the Intel® SDK for OpenCL Applications 2013, an updated, beta development environment for OpenCL applications for Windows 8 and Linux operating systems that support 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors with Intel® HD Graphics. In addition to parallel processing, the Intel® OpenCL SDK delivers performance improvements through full code generation using the Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) 256-bit instruction set extension designed for applications that are floating point intensive.

 

One of the fastest ways to take advantage of the Intel® OpenCL SDK in a new industrial system design is to incorporate a compatible, off the shelf processor board based on 3rd generation Intel® Core™ architecture. For example, the MSC CXB-6SI module from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance member MSC Vertriebs, offers several versions of the quad core Intel processors along with up to 16 GB of dual channel DDR3-1600 memory, multiple display interfaces and an optional NAND Flash silicon disk (See figure 2). This new COM Express module delivers lower power consumption with simultaneously higher clock rates and an improved graphics and video performance compared to previous generations. The Intel® HD 4000 Graphics controller also offers an improved video and graphics acceleration and provides support for three independent displays. The MSC CXB-6SI supports OpenCL 1.1 so that the graphics engines can also be used for applications that require extensive use of floating-point computations.


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When combined with off-the-shelf, 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors and the free-to-download Intel® SDK, OpenCL becomes a noteworthy strategy for significantly increasing the number crunching performance of factory control systems.  These powerful architectural and software features supply the embedded designer with new tools that promise to change the future of high performance industrial systems. If you think that OpenCL and Intel® Core architecture can improve performance of your industrial project please share your concerns, questions, and successes with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on OpenCL.

industrial.pngTo learn more about the design of industrial systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial

 

To view other community content on performance, see "Performance - Top Picks” 

 

Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

Microsoft Corporation is an Associate member of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. MSC Vertriebs GmbH is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

 

Embedded control systems drive the critical and complex industrial machinery necessary to turn raw materials into finished goods in a factory environment. These systems must be designed for maximum reliability in order to avoid the high costs and lengthy delays involved with a production line shutdown, repair, and restart. To extend the uptime of these systems, designers have traditionally employed redundant hardware such as sensors and actuators that can be automatically substituted in the event of a failure. As factory control systems combine functionality and increase complexity to speed operation and lower overheads, designers are now employing similar measures to respond to and correct software malfunctions. To simplify this failover process and to extend the availability of industrial applications, Intel has developed a number of technologies built directly into the latest generation processor architecture.

 

Intel® vPro™ Technology includes hardware support for remote management, virtualization, and platform security functions that can be used to extend the uptime of industrial embedded systems.  For example, Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) increases system performance and reliability with hardware support for virtualization software to simplify the transfer of data and control between virtual operating systems.  If a system becomes disabled due to a software or operating system failure, a virtual backup can automatically take control and start execution without user intervention. Virtualization can also be used for hardware substitution by invoking a virtual layer that uses a modified set of I/O devices. Intel® VT improves the performance of software-based virtualization operations by using hardware-assist to allocate memory and I/O devices to specific partitions to decrease the processor load and reduce virtual machine switching times.

Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) is another Intel® vPro element that delivers certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. This technology gives device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage required software updates from a remote location. In the event of a software failure, Intel® AMT enables a remote boot from an external operating system image over the network even if the system kernel has been completely corrupted. Most of this reboot process can be done with automated scripting and little human interaction which can significantly lower system downtime. Intel® AMT can also be used manually to insert redundant systems to maintain uninterrupted production while support teams perform required preventative maintenance on mechanical systems.

 

Several Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members offer off-the-shelf, board-level products supporting Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT Technology that designers can use to develop high-reliability systems for industrial applications. For example, The NORCO MITX-6922 motherboard supports the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture and targets industrial automation systems along with digital signage, retail, and transportation applications (See figure 1).  The board features up to 8GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM, six COM ports, eight USB 2.0 connectors, High Definition Audio, two Gigabit LAN ports, plus four and sixteen lane PCI-Express connections. The board offers multiple display options including VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, LVDS video outputs and supports dual independent displays. In addition, the video output is complemented by three audio jacks. As well as Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT 8.0, the board also features Intel® Turbo Boost and Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.

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The high performance Intel® Xeon® processor E3 architecture also features Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT technologies to support the extended availability requirements of industrial applications.  Taking advantage of a 15% CPU performance increase and lower power consumption than the previous generation, DFI-ITOX recently introduced the CL630-CRM ATX motherboard based on the Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1200v2 Family (See figure 2). As you can see in the block diagram, the ATX board supports the new Intel® C216 Express chipset with a large selection of I/O features to simplify system designs supporting redundant hardware. The CL630-CRM also features the integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4000 engine delivering up to 50% 3D graphics performance improvement with high definition images presented simultaneously to three independent displays. . Performance is further increased through the introduction of Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) to the instruction set, providing acceleration of complex audio, video, and image processing.

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A key strategy for building reliable systems in industrial applications is to eliminate single points of failure. By adding redundant hardware and software for critical functions, designers can provide systems that greatly improve the uptime statistics in critical production settings. If you think that Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT technologies can improve performance of your industrial project please share your concerns, questions, and successes with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel vPro AMT.

industrial.pngTo learn more about the design of industrial systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial

 

To view other community content on performance, see "Performance - Top Picks
 
Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

DFI-ITOX and NORCO are Associate members of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

industrial.pngTo learn more about the design of industrial systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial

 

connectivity.jpgTo view other community content on connectivity, see "Connectivity - Top Picks

 

Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Digi International is a General member of the Alliance. 

To meet the continued pressure to reduce the size and power requirements of space-critical industrial, medical, and consumer applications designers are adopting standard Computer-on-Module (COM) platforms with extremely small form factors.  As these standards become widely available design teams are able to purchase commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modules that package the most complex portions of new product development so they can focus on the application specific features.  With a shortened hardware design schedule and early access to a compatible software development platform, standardized COM technology has become the centerpiece of many new embedded development projects. Industry standard modules also provide developers with multiple vendors to insure uninterrupted availability.

 

One of the more recent COM standards, Qseven, provides the functional requirements for most embedded applications including graphics, sound, mass storage, network connectivity, and multiple USB ports. Packaged in a small, 70mm x 70mm (2.75” x 2.75”) form factor, Qseven modules are mounted onto an application specific carrier board through a single ruggedized MXM connector. Qseven is smaller than other COM standards such as COM Express or ETX but is limited to very low power processors such as the Intel® Atom™.  The maximum power consumption is limited to 12 watts. Qseven is legacy free and features only the newest I/O technologies including:

  • PCI Express, USB 2.0, ExpressCard, High Definition Digital Audio
  • Serial ATA, LPC interface, Secure Digital I/O interface
  • Gigabit Ethernet, Serial Digital Video Out (SDVO) Interface
  • DisplayPort, Low Voltage Differential Signal (LVDS) Display Interface
  • Controller Area Network (CAN) Bus

The Qseven specification is hosted by the independent Qseven consortium and is available without charge. The current revision 1.20 was released September 10, 2010.

 

Targeting industrial applications in rugged environments, MSC Embedded recently announced a new Qseven platform family based on the Intel® Atom™ E6xx architecture. The MSC Q7-TCTC-FD modules offer extended graphics performance along with an integrated CAN bus that operated over the extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C (See figure 1). The Qseven platform is offered in four different computing performance variations ranging from the most economical model that integrates the 600 MHz Intel® Atom™E620 CPU up to the most powerful E680 CPU at 1.6GHz.  A variety of displays can be connected via LVDS (18/24 Bit) with a maximal resolution of 1280x768 and via SVDO with 1920x1080 pixels. In the dual independent display mode two displays can be driven simultaneously. The module family offers a CAN bus, six USB 2.0 host ports and one USB 2.0 client, three PCI Express x1 lanes, LPC, high definition audio, and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. An optional 4 or 8GB flash drive connected via a SATA II interface is available as a system boot device.  Pricing for the MSC Q7-TCTC-FD modules starts at $119.00 in volume quantities.

 

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The Intel® Atom™E6xx series provides the modular framework to boost performance, lower power requirements, and enhance I/O flexibility for industrial COM applications and is the first Intel® Atom™ processor designed specifically for embedded systems including a 7-year life cycle commitment. One of the significant improvements over the previous generation is the integration of the display, audio, and memory interfaces onto the CPU resulting in higher system bandwidth while allowing designers to reduce component count and board area.  An integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600 2D/3D graphics engine provides hardware accelerated video decoding and encoding for MPEG4 part 2 and H.264 signals. The GMA supports LVDS displays with an 80 MHz pixel clock and SDVO displays at 160 MHz.  The E6xx series also uses the open PCI Express standard for the processor-to-chipset interface allowing designers to create specialized I/O functions as needed.


Off-the-shelf standards such as Qseven modules with low power operation, built in video-processing, and scalability provide key components in the development of small or portable embedded devices. By choosing COTS technology based on advanced Intel® Atom™E6xx processor architecture, developers can bypass the most complicated portion of embedded design and shorten the time to market. If you are starting or have completed a small form factor Qseven design, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments 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 the Qseven Standard.

 

To view other community content on energy efficiency, see "Energy Efficiency - Top Picks

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

MSC Embedded is an Affiliate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

 

Digital video has become commonplace in a wide variety of embedded devices and promises to be the cornerstone for a new generation of applications based on image analysis. Designers are using electronic images of people, places, and things to extract information for applications that bridge the physical and virtual worlds. Manufacturing, biometrics, surveillance, quality control, security, medical, and commerce are just a few of the market areas that incorporate video processing algorithms to analyze real-time images. For example, in an earlier Roving Reporter post, I covered the Intel Audience Impression Metric Suite for digital signage which provides video and face detection algorithms that can dynamically modify content depending on the viewer’s demographics. Similarly, industrial production line inspection stations now include multichannel, high-speed video analysis equipment to record and verify product configuration and accurate alignment.

 

As these video applications grow in complexity, designers are turning to dual cameras to add another dimension or to increase the precision. Two image sensors are typical for applications such as 3D stereoscopic video, robotics, black box car driver recorder designs, accurate 3D analytics for security/surveillance and many other applications.  Although today’s image signal processors are capable of processing the data that two image sensors output, they do not often have the port configurations to support multiple sensors. In addition, as image resolutions move above 720p, camera vendors have replaced the traditional parallel CMOS bus with unique serial buses with different widths, speeds, and protocols. With these challenges in mind, Lattice Semiconductor devised the MachXO2 family of Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs) which, along with an inexpensive frame buffer, can combine two image sensors, synchronize them, merge the data, and output a format compatible with single input port configurations (See figure 1). The MachXO2 dual sensor interface design can output two images in a top / bottom format or a left / right configuration, depending on the format the signal processing software expects. Both the Intel® Atom™ and 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors have undergone significant updates for graphics processing and would be excellent Image Signal Processor (ISP) candidates for these new multi-sensor applications.

 

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The new Intel® Atom™ platforms (codenamed Cedar Trail) feature an integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 graphics engine to enhance 3D performance for media applications such as high definition 1080p video playback and streaming at a fraction of the power consumption of previous generations. Intel streaming single instruction, multiple data extensions can also be used to accelerate software processing of complex arithmetic and video decoding tasks. The platform delivers multiple digital display and output options including LVDS, HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort to support a variety of presentation formats.  The dedicated media engine combined with the integrated memory controller provides enhanced performance and system responsiveness, including an improvement in graphics performance up to 2X compared to the previous generation platform. Theses signal processing and display features are well suited for multi sensor embedded market applications.

 

The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture features an integrated graphics processor optimized for media analysis applications plus dedicated hardware for high speed video processing. The graphics processor incorporates fixed function hardware in the signal processing channel as an array of parallel execution units for rapid encoding and decoding of high definition video in order to maximize the throughput per watt and to replace programmable functions.  The video processing section includes advanced logic for removing noise, sharpening, scaling, and color processing of video signals. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture also features a unified power management design where the graphics processor has a separate power plane and clocking so it can run at a different voltage than the CPU depending on the workload. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture also incorporates the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instruction set optimized for audio, image, and video processing. With the AVX extended performance, designers can eliminate external hardware-based digital signal processing silicon to reduce the component count and lower overall power requirements.

 

The integrated graphics features of both the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture and the new Intel® Atom™ platforms give designers a choice in video processing capabilities combined with low power and a variable number of CPU cores to match the requirements of a variety of multiple image sensor applications. If you are starting a new dual camera image analysis project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Image Analysis.

 

To view other community content on Sensing and Analytics, see “Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Lattice Semiconductor is a General member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

 

Low cost cameras and video analytics technology are transforming digital signage from a passive display system into a smart data collection network where owners can track and optimize their return on investment and cost per impression. As I covered in part 1 of this intelligent signage series, the Intel® Audience Impression Metric Suite (Intel® AIM Suite) coupled with the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture, provides the video analysis and face detection algorithms to allow network operators to dynamically modify content depending on the viewer’s demographics. Data from the suite can also be used to judge the display’s ability to attract a minimum number of viewers, hold the viewer’s attention, and to find the best physical location for the sign. In this post, I will take a look at compatible off-the-shelf hardware and software components that designers can use to get started developing smart digital signage.

 

Developers can get a head start on new signage projects targeting the Intel® AIM Suite with ready to run products such as the Digital Signage Evaluation Kit covered in part 1 or they can opt for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modules based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture. For example, Congatec offers the conga-BM67 COM-Express module with either the 2.1 GHz, 45W Intel® Core™ i7 processor or the 2.5 GHz, 35W Intel® Core™ i5 processor along with up to 8 GBytes of dual channel DDR3 memory (See figure 1). The processor graphics supports the Intel® Flexible Display Interface (FDI), which allows for two independent video channels on the VGA, LVDS, HDMI, DisplayPort or SDVO interfaces. The Intel® HD Graphics supports Intel® Clear Video HD Technology and DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) for accelerated video processing. Peripheral interfaces include six PCI Express lanes, eight USB 2.0 ports, four SATA with RAID support, one EIDE and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Fan control, LPC bus for slow speed extensions, and Intel® High Definition Audio complete the feature set.

 

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The software required for an Intel® AIM Suite based project can take on many levels of complexity starting with a single screen with a few targeted displays up to a network of units in various locations with multiple advertising promotions. One of the most comprehensive software products comes from BroadSign International, offering digital signage Software as a Service (SaaS).  The BroadSign Suite, integrating their existing proof-of-play reporting system with the anonymous video analytics technology of the Intel® AIM Suite, consists of multiple components including an administrator, a player, two servers, and a sign creator (See figure 2). The software enables operators to target out-of-home audiences, sell network airtime, playback scheduled content on each screen, and account for campaign performance. Digital signage networks using the BroadSign and Intel® AIM Suites will offer advertisers not only proof-of-play reports but also audience numbers shown for every ad played. Tying together the two metrics makes it easier for advertisers to analyze campaign performance and allows adjusting the schedules and content based on the combined reports.

 

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The challenge for digital signage original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is to develop and modify products quickly in response to a wide variety of customer demands and user environments. Designed for intelligent kiosk, digital signage, medical cart, and gaming applications, the MITX-CORE-820 motherboard from Emerson Network Power features the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family and offers a flexible mix of features and expansion options.  The industrial grade Mini-ITX motherboard is based on an Intel® QM67 controller powered by an Intel® Core™ i7-2710QE or Core™ i5-2510E processor. The motherboard has sockets for up to 8 GB DDR3 memory plus one PCIe x16 and one PCIe Mini Card slot. The PCIe Mini Card slot supports PCIe, USB, and DisplayPort connectivity. The MITX-CORE-820 also provides two gigabit Ethernet ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, SATA 6Gb/s ports, 2 SATA 3Gb/s ports, and one RS232 port. Display outputs include HD audio interface, one VGA power connector, two DisplayPorts, one Embedded DisplayPort, and one LVDS Header. The motherboard supports Windows 7, Embedded Standard 7, XP Professional, and Fedora 12 operating systems. Emerson offers a free Digital Signage Gets Smart eBook download which includes a guide to technology architecture for digital signage based on Intel® embedded technology implemented by Emerson Network Power.

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture is ideal for intelligent digital signage applications and combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor optimized for media plus dedicated fixed-function hardware for video processing. If you are starting a new intelligent digital signage project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Intel® Digital Signage Applications page and the Embedded Computing Design archives on smart digital signage.

 

To view other community content on Sensing and Analytics, see “Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Emerson Network Power is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Congatec is an Associate member and BroadSign is a General member of the Alliance.

As digital signage becomes commonplace in the retail and public information venues, developers are looking for new techniques to capture the viewer’s attention and optimize the messages presented. Retail users have already adopted various dynamic presentation concepts to modify sign content based on real-time data such as current events, the time of day, or changes in the weather. Now, with the right sensors and the Intel® Audience Impression Metric Suite (Intel® AIM Suite), digital signage networks can modify their content and judge its effectiveness by measuring how much time the targeted audience spends looking at the display. With this technology developers can find the best location for the sign and customize content by collecting audience data such as number and length of impressions plus age and gender demographics.

 

The technology behind the Intel® AIM Suite includes an embedded camera sensor and Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) software powered a 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture. The AVA software analyzes the data stream from the camera and compares pixel patterns to a predefined database to determine when an object in front of the sign is a human face looking in the right direction. Unlike facial recognition software, AVA does not match a particular face to a face in a database to insure that there are no privacy issues. Basically, the program looks for patterns such as dark pixels where eyes should be and lighter pixels where cheeks should be. Once the AVA program determines that the pixel patterns are of a human face, it categorizes the face according to gender and age and records how long the face looked at the sign.

 

The Intel® AIM Suite consists of four elements that provide digital signage network operators with the metrics needed to determine and maximize the return on investment for individual display campaigns (See figure 1). The Intel® AIM View module includes the face-detection technology software described above that captures viewer statistics data. Intel® AIM Analytics is a web-based service module that operators can use to securely view data and generate periodic reports. The main Intel® AIM Suite element is the master control application that manages instances of Intel® AIM View and uploads data to Intel® AIM Analytics. The forth element is Intel® AIM Manage, a web-based license and sensor management system that remotely manages all computers running the Intel® AIM Suite.

 

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To ease the initial startup challenges encountered with intelligent signage, Intel has teamed with Microsoft and Winmate to create the DSEK-11 Digital Signage Evaluation Kit (See figure 2). This reference platform is based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5 processor with Intel® Active Management Technology coupled with the graphics media accelerator HD engine of the mobile Intel QM67 Express Chipset providing enhanced performance levels for compute-intensive applications like anonymous video analytics and multiple zone displays. The kit comes pre-installed with a Windows Embedded Standard 7 evaluation run-time image, allowing developers to build run-time OS images that are optimized for digital signage applications. The media player also features a 2.5 inch SATA solid state disk drive, a PCI Express WiFi module, a Bluetooth module, and a gigabit Ethernet interface. Display interfaces include VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and Display Port. An 82 page user’s guide for the DSEK-11 is available at the Winmate website.

 

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture is ideal for intelligent digital signage applications and combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor optimized for media plus dedicated fixed-function hardware for video processing. The graphics section is composed of an array of parallel execution units for 3D applications and hardware acceleration for high speed encoding or decoding of high definition video.  If you are starting a new intelligent digital signage project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. Check back for part 2 of this audience measurement blog post for a roundup of related hardware and software products. You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on intelligent digital signage.

 

To view other community content on Sensing and Analytics, see “Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Microsoft is an Associate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications strategies and cloud computing are transforming embedded connectivity from an assortment of fragmented, proprietary technologies to open standards easily integrated into new designs. This new direction in M2M connectivity enables a wide range of applications and services by exchanging real-time data between remote devices, one or more central servers, and authorized third parties. In addition, these improved M2M solutions can reduce capital and operating expenditures, while creating opportunities for new and increased revenue streams. In part 1 of this series, I presented an overview of M2M communications requirements and focused on software and Intel-based hardware products available for the remote terminal. This second part covers the connectivity options for various applications and the cloud-based services available to simplify or eliminate M2M infrastructure.

 

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 business output and lower costs. For example, a major retail chain can collect and analyze remote data from warehouses, delivery vehicles, and outlets to accurately manage inventory, reduce costs, and quickly respond to unexpected demand.  With the new, low-cost data collection platforms described in part 1, the amount of streaming data can easily overwhelm existing enterprise infrastructure as the number of endpoints grows. To deal with these new data collection and analysis challenges, Intel has teamed with several M2M companies to create development kits to simplify the data filtering and reduce or eliminate burdens on existing processing systems.

 

For example, ILS Technology recently introduced the deviceWISE M2M Application Deployment Kit offering customers the tools to create secure and scalable M2M applications for critical infrastructure in the commercial and industrial markets. The kit combines the company’s configurable deviceWISE M2M Gateway software, a gateway hardware platform, and a developer cloud subscription (See figure 1).  The M2M aggregation gateway features an Intel® Atom™ processor for rapid prototyping of configurations requiring wired, wireless, serial, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee interfaces. The software includes a device connection library, edge processing, and event engine allowing customers to create workflows to translate the raw data into intelligent events for secure transmission to applications residing in the cloud or at customer locations. Customers can readily implement monitoring and predictive maintenance applications that exchange data from remote devices to existing enterprise applications on a global scale with no custom programming required.

 

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Eurotech’s Everyware Device Cloud (EDC) is another M2M system that enables designers to develop cloud-based solutions to exchange data between distributed devices and business applications (See figure 2). The EDC consists of several easy-to-use building blocks including the Everyware Cloud for data access and management, the Everyware Software Framework (ESF) based on the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment, the Wind River Linux operating system and development tool chain plus Eurotech’s Intel Atom-based family of hardware platforms that I covered in part 1of this series. Eurotech offers a broad range of standard interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) that make the EDC viable for a variety of business applications. The EDC is also available through a device-as-a-service (DaaS) purchasing model in which the customer pays a predictable monthly fee for the data and services provided with no upfront hardware or software investment required.

 

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Both of these M2M development kits and tools rely on Intel processors to capture, process, and stream real-time data from distributed terminals into the cloud for delivery to enterprise or third party analysis computers. The low, cost, low power architecture of the Intel Atom fits a wide range of these applications including those destined for extended temperature environments, or long life embedded applications, or even those with enhanced graphics requirements. The combination of the Intel® Atom™ processor at the data collection end and powerful software features from Eurotech and ILS Technology could be just the ticket for your next M2M development project. If you are starting or have completed a cloud-based M2M embedded design, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can keep up with related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on cloud connectivity.

 

To view other community content on connectivity, see “Connectivity - Top Picks

 

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Eurotech and Wind River Systems are Associate members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. ILS Technology is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

As the number of intelligent embedded devices climbs into the billions, designers are refining the next generation of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications techniques to provide continuous, autonomous connectivity and effective remote management. M2M has been called the “next big thing” in embedded design and promises to revolutionize and standardize connectivity across many market segments including industrial, transportation, healthcare, utilities, retail, and consumer electronics. In the past, these markets employed a hodgepodge of communications techniques to interconnect devices and the enterprise however, as the M2M community expands developers are taking the next step and integrating the Internet into a cloud-computing arrangement to not only provide traditional data reporting, but to expand into additional functions such as smart services. For example, with cloud-based M2M communications, industrial device manufacturers can increase revenues by offering a variety of after sale services including remote product updates, failure detection, and even on-site repairs to reduce customer support costs and personnel.

 

To spark the M2M revolution, Intel has joined forces with a number of hardware and software firms to help standardize the connectivity options and build a supply of off-the-shelf products to simplify the transition to cloud computing.  In the remote terminal application area, the Intel® Atom™E6xx architecture is very popular and provides a number of performance improvements to simplify M2M, small-form-factor device designs including a 7-year life cycle commitment. The E6xx series combines the 45 nm processor core plus memory and display controller into one package to reduce the component count and lower overall power requirements. Also, the front side bus used in previous generations has been replaced with a four-lane PCI Express interface giving designers the option of replacing the companion chipset with custom or third-party circuitry to create specialized I/O functions as needed. To deal with the potentially rugged environments found in many M2M applications the Intel® Atom™E6xx series processors are available in the -40 to 85 °C extended temperature range.

 

Several Intel® Embedded Alliance members offer service-ready platforms and start up kits designed specifically for M2M applications. For example, Kontron has developed the M2M Smart Services Developer Kit in conjunction with Intel to enable designers to develop and test an application’s connectivity and performance to shorten the product deployment process (See figure 1). The kit is based on the 1 GHz Intel® Atom™ E640T processor-powered COM Express module that is supported by an M2M-specific base board plus an audio/visual board for applications with a local graphical interface. Built-in wireless networking capabilities include 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and 802.15.4 wireless personal area network. In addition, cellular connectivity is available as a pre-installed option, or by adding a 3G/4G mini PCI Express miniCard. Storage space for M2M smart service applications, middleware, and an operating system are provided by internal and external microSD cards. With a built-in accelerometer, dual HDMI interfaces, and HD audio support, the M2M Smart Services Developer Kit enables both movement tracking as well as audio/visual intensive smart services applications.

 

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Targeting remote terminal applications in mining, industrial, transportation, and emergency crews, Eurotech recently introduced the Zypad BR2000, a rugged, small form factor wearable and vehicle mountable computer designed for extreme environmental conditions where reliable wired and wireless connectivity are required (See figure 2). The Zypad BR2000 weighs less than 2lbs, operates from 4 to 6 hours in typical applications, and interfaces with a remote display and/or helmet monocle. Based on the 1.3 GHz Intel® Atom™ E660T processor architecture together with high-speed wired and wireless network, the Zypad BR2000 offers WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS  communications capabilities. Standard I/O includes gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, RS232/422, on-board Flash, audio, and 2D/3D video output. Operating system support includes Windows/Windows Embedded Standard 7, Wind River Linux, and several real-time operating systems. The Zypad BR2000 can run Eurotech’s Everyware™ Software Framework designed to enable M2M communications in a variety of environments. The system is also compatible with Eurotech’s Everyware™ Device Cloud with building blocks to provide device-to-cloud data exchange between distributed devices and business applications. You can find out more about the Everyware™ Device Cloud technology in part two of this series.

 

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Low power operation and high performance are key technologies in the development of the next generation of ubiquitously connected devices. The Intel® Atom™E6xx series architecture provides these features through a flexible I/O architecture that simplifies M2M designs and shortens the time to market. If you are starting or have completed a cloud-based M2M embedded design, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments 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 both M2M communications and connectivity.

 

To view other community content on connectivity, see “Connectivity - Top Picks

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Eurotech is an Associate member of the Alliance.

Telecom infrastructure networks are experiencing dramatic increases in data traffic, largely driven by multimedia content from wireless and wired devices. This growth is challenging service providers to meet network performance demands while growing their average revenue per user. From the hardware perspective, the latest Intel Xeon® processors provide the efficient performance needed to deal with new demands while allowing network equipment manufacturers to consolidate application, control, and packet processing on the same platform for a more efficient solution.  Although traditional software solutions have not been optimized for network performance, telecom equipment providers must find new techniques to combine operating systems, networking software and multi-core silicon to address business and performance challenges in today’s highly competitive market.

 

Offering a software solution for network workload consolidation, Wind River recently announced a networking acceleration stack for Linux and VxWorks aimed at accelerating IP packet forwarding on carrier-grade telecommunications equipment. The Wind River Network Acceleration Platform manages processing operations over multiple cores to accelerate control and data plane activities and deliver multiple gigabit Ethernet wire-speed performance (See figure 1). By adopting the multi-core asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP) approach the Network Acceleration Platform enhances the standard Linux networking stack to support high-performance network acceleration capabilities exceeding what is possible using symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) mode alone. Offering 10 times the performance of standard Linux configurations, Wind River Network Acceleration Platform helps eliminate bottlenecks not only in moving packets through the silicon itself, but throughout the entire networking platform. The latest release expands hardware support for the Intel Xeon next-generation multicore processors and allows network performance to scale efficiently with the number of cores in a processor. In addition, Wind River is providing Network Acceleration developers with multi-core enabled development, testing, debugging, and simulation tools required to simulate and test systems in complex multi-core environments.

 

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Extending packet processing performance, Intel recently announced its 32nm-fabricated Xeon® 5600 processors as the next generation upgrade to the Xeon® 5500 family. In addition to several enterprise-class versions of the Xeon® 5600, Intel introduced four models with seven-year lifecycle support for embedded applications. The 2.4GHz, 80 Watt Xeon® E5645 and the 2.0GHz, 60 Watt Xeon® L5638 each provide six cores and 12 threads. There are two quad-core embedded versions including the 4GHz, 80 Watt Xeon® E5620 and the 1.86GHz, 40 Watt Xeon® L5618. The Intel Xeon® processor 5600 series includes Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI), improving performance for disk and database encryption plus secure Internet transactions. The processors also feature Intel® Virtualization Technology for flexible virtualization, Intel® QuickPath Technology to maximize multi-core performance, plus Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology to deliver top performance for bandwidth-intensive applications.

 

6WINDGate from 6WIND is another software solution that provides packet processing optimization for networking equipment, wireless infrastructure, security appliances and data centers (See figure 2). The software provides up to ten times the packet processing performance of a standard networking stack and significantly improves the price-performance and power-performance ratios of networking equipment. 6WINDGate is compatible with standard operating system APIs to ensure that clients can migrate either from a single-core to a multi-core platform, or from one multi-core platform to another, without needing to rewrite their existing software.  On a dual-core Intel® Xeon® processor E5645 platform with a clock speed of 3.33GHz, 6WINDGate delivers over 16 million packets per second, per core of IP forwarding performance, thereby forwarding 10Gbps of network traffic in each core. This performance scales linearly with the number of cores configured to run 6WINDGate until the maximum bandwidth of the hardware platform is reached. Processor cores not used to run 6WINDGate are available to run value-added application software or Virtual Machines (VMs), resulting in an efficient and flexible system for advanced networking equipment.

 

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Providing off-the-shelf hardware to support the transition to integrated network workloads, Emerson Network Power recently introduced a new AdvancedTCA server blade featuring a six-core processor from the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series to deliver optimized virtualization and power management. The dual-processor ATCA-7365 is the company’s highest-performance 10Gbps ATCA server blade to date and supports up to 96GB DDR3 memory (See figure 3).  Designed to enable network and service providers to lower their capital and operating expenses, the off-the-shelf ATCA-7365 supports a broad array of communications applications that require high network throughput such as telecom. The ATCA-7365 is available with a variety of rear transition module (RTM) variants to support different I/O configurations and can be configured with a variety of software offerings including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, Wind River Platform for Network Equipment Linux Edition 3.0 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008.

 

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With new software solutions to complement the latest Xeon processors, telecom equipment system providers have fresh options to consolidate processing workloads and improve network infrastructure performance. You can find more information and technical articles on Intel network acceleration architecture at the Intel® Embedded Community page on Xeon processors.  If you are starting a new telecom or packet acceleration project with and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical details and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Multi-core Packet Acceleration.

 

To view other community content on workload consolidation, see “Workload Consolidation - Top Picks

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Emerson Network Power is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Wind River Systems is an Associate member and 6WIND is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

Remote embedded devices such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals and intelligent kiosks are becoming commonplace in nearly every marketplace and offer retailers reduced operating costs, real-time data collection, and simplified maintenance.  The embedded performance requirements of these systems are substantial as most devices must simultaneously interact with a user and drive one or more local displays while communicating with a remote server. As the number of units continue to escalate, these performance expectations will grow as developers strive to outperform the competition and create a unique user experience. In addition to escalating performance needs, many POS terminals and kiosks are deployed in locations without a local operator and require built-in provisions for system security and remote management.

 

The recently deployed 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors deliver a number of performance and security enhancements that match the needs of remote automated point of sale and kiosk devices. In addition to the promise of long term availability, the processors feature increased performance and lower power while integrating the graphics processor to reduce component count and simplify board layout. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture also supports an advanced version of Intel® vPro™ Technology for security and remote system management. This technology allows designers to activate, reconfigure, and if necessary, deactivate a remote embedded system. Intel® vPro™ technology capabilities are embedded in hardware so they can be accessed and administered separately from any hard drive, operating system, or software applications. Key encryption components are kept in protected FLASH memory to improve security and block access to sensitive information. vPro™ also includes Intel® Active Management Technology with certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. This technology gives remote device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage future software updates.

 

Targeting the high performance point of sale and kiosk market, Avalue Technology released the EPI-QM67 single board computer powered by the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i5-2510E or Core™ i7-2710QE processor and Intel® QM67 Express chipset (See figure 2). Based on the EPIC form factor, the module features dual DVI or LVDS display configurations along with a built-in touch screen interface for interactive applications. To support a wide range of I/O requirements, the module includes two SATA interfaces, two COM ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, a 16-bit general purpose I/O port, and two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Intel® Active Management Technology 7.0 enables remote networking manageability for easy monitoring and communication between the server and end user, offering optimized system management capability, even if the power is off.

 

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In the software arena, PFU Systems offers the Kiosk Service Platform (KSP) for development and operation of web-based kiosk applications (See figure 3). The KSP browser allows developers to use web based development tools and mirror the web’s look and feel in their custom applications.  In addition, the software allows easy porting of existing web-based applications to the kiosk. The platform controls all devices connected to the kiosk terminal’s I/O ports and uses the local program to monitor all status conditions, control the peripherals, and manage all maintenance/servicing requirements. The KSP software also features multiple management and maintenance security levels to insure protection for sensitive customer information.

 

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core technology provides the developers of remote POS and kiosk devices with new graphics capabilities in a small, low power form factor with a reduced component count. This new architecture also maximizes embedded system availability with Intel® vPro™ Technology for security and remote system management. If you are starting a new retail terminal project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical details and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel® vPro™ remote management.

 

To view other community content on manageability, see “Manageability - Top Picks

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Avalue Technology is an Associate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. PFU Systems is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

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