Embedded design teams are turning to stand-alone, automated devices to increase presence, reduce overhead, and engage customers. These remote terminals are being deployed in a wide variety of industries including retail, industrial, healthcare, advertising, education, hotel, and transportation as designers search for the optimal hardware and software configuration in each application. Although a key objective is to reduce overhead and eliminate operator personnel, many of these industries install remote devices with no local IT support. The challenge for designers is to reduce or eliminate service calls for system diagnosis or software updates because on-site visits are expensive and can involve long periods of downtime.
Addressing these potential system support challenges, the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ technology supports an advanced version of Intel® vPro™ Technology and Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) allowing remote access regardless of the state of the hard drive, operating system, and software applications. These direct hardware-based communications features in a pre-boot environment are very important to minimize downtime for critical, high-reliability systems. For example, RadiSys has developed the Embedded System Platform (eSP) tool suite that works with the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture allowing developers to create pre-boot diagnostic and repair capabilities including system readiness checks, troubleshooting, and software recovery (See figure 1). The eSP suite includes Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) applications, user BIOS customization tools, and a standardized Application Programming Interface (API) for low-level functions. The Radisys EFI provides support for a pre–boot environment to develop a diagnostic and recovery environment independent of operating system functionality. Diagnostics can be useful for situations ranging from initial bring-up and development, to diagnosing factory or field issues. EFI also supports the latest advances in Intel® vPro™ Technologies, including Intel® AMT for remote manageability, Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT), Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT), and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology for performance optimization. Each of these can be configured (or even disabled) through the Radisys EFI.
With a growing list of embedded devices including point-of-sale terminals, self-serve kiosks, back office servers, and digital signage, the retail industry is a major beneficiary of remote management technology. Targeting all of these in-store configurations, Hewlett Packard recently developed the HP rp5800 Retail System incorporating Intel® vPro™ Technology for security and remote system management (See figure 2). The system has a flexible design that retailers can customize to fit the needs individual applications. There are VGA and DisplayPort interfaces for displays or signage, a range of I/O interfaces including USB 2.0, PCI Express, RJ12 cash register port, RS 232, and RJ-45 Ethernet LAN. The HP rp5800 also supports further customization and expansion with two slots for either PCI or PCI Express x1 boards.
To remotely manage an array of remote devices in multiple configurations, Hewlett Packard offers the HP Client Automation (HPCA) software that automates routine tasks such as software deployments, upgrades, usage monitoring, and system management (See figure 3). This HPCA software utilizes a desired-state management model defined for each remote device configuration. Software agents on each device proactively synchronize and manage to that defined state on an ongoing basis. HPCA can scan devices across the environment for security vulnerabilities, regulatory and corporate compliance, and security tool status. HPCA also helps control power consumption by automatically controlling device power settings and timing. These automation tools insure compliance with image standards and a reduction in the amount of effort needed to manage the environment.
The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture with Intel® vPro™ technology allows embedded designers to contain costs, improve security, enable remote management, and maximize system availability. These benefits will lower the customer’s total cost of ownership and maximize the return on investment. If you are starting a new embedded project with remote equipment 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.
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RadiSys is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Hewlett Packard is an Associate member of the Alliance.