One of the key benefits of Intel® architecture (IA) is its scalable performance. With processors ranging from low-power parts to high-end, multi-core beasts, IA covers a wide span of cost, power, and performance levels. This scalability provides a number of important benefits. First and foremost, scalability gives developers a reliable upgrade path. You can add features by moving to higher-performance parts, or you can cost-optimize with lower-performance parts. What’s more, IA has an unsurpassed history of maintaining software compatibility across processor generations. That means developers can commit to the platform with the confidence that they will be able to re-use their software for years to come.
Scalability also makes it easier to design a range of products from a common software base. In the network space, for example, a single software base can scale from network appliances targeting the SMB market all the way up to telecom infrastructure used for next-generation 4G networks.
Both of these benefits – scalability and roadmap reliability – are enhanced by the supporting hardware, software, tools, and services offered by the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance, whose 200-plus members collaborate closely with Intel to help you speed scalable designs to market. Alliance members offer extensive support for the full range of IA processors, including:
- Intel® Atom™ processors with thermal design power (TDP) starting at 2.7 W
- Intel® Core™ processors with industry-leading graphics, performance, and I/O
- Intel® Xeon® processors with advanced multi-core architectures
Intel has recently introduced updates to each of these platforms with significant performance and feature upgrades. For example, the new Intel® Atom™ processor N200 and D2000 series (formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail”) offers the new processors up to 4X the 3D graphics performance of their predecessors along with 1080p hardware video decode. These upgrades will be particularly useful for applications that combine modest processing requirements with intense graphics demands, such as entry-level digital signage and kiosks.
As the first Intel Atom processor built in a 32nm process technology, the new parts also gain major improvements in performance-per-watt. Notable power-saving features include:
- Up to 10 hours of use and weeks-long standby
- Intel® Rapid Start Technology for fast resume
- Intel® Smart Connect Technology for an always-updated experience even during standby
For a closer look at the new parts, I recommend my recent Intel Atom processor blog. To get ideas on how you can use these processors in your next design, check out our webinar on Adding “Wow” to Embedded from Advantech and Portwell. In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of the specs:
Intel® Atom™ processor N2600
Intel® Atom™ processor N2800
Intel® Atom™ processor D2700
The brand-new 3rd-generation Intel® Core™ processors (formerly codenamed “Ivy Bridge”) also bring a host of major upgrades. The processors are the first to use Intel’s 22 nm fabrication process, which provides up to 20% better performance in the same thermal envelope as the previous generation. The biggest news, however, is the majorly upgraded graphics engine, which offers an up to 2X boost in 3D performance and support for 3 displays. I/O also gets a major upgrade – new support for PCI Express* Gen 3 and USB 3.0 more than double I/O throughput.
These upgrades will benefit a wide range of applications, including digital signage, healthcare, mil/aero, and industrial automation – all of which we will cover in our upcoming webinar with Kontron and Radisys. To dive deeper, check out my Intel™ Core® processor blog, where you will find application examples like anonymous viewer analytics (AVA) for signage:
Intel has been busy upgrading its top-of-the line Intel® Xeon® processors as well. The latest Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 series (formerly codenamed “Romley”) are the first to offer 8-core/single-socket and 16-core/two-socket configurations, providing significant performance improvement over previous-generation. They are also the first Intel Xeon processors to use the Intel® microarchitecture codenamed Sandy Bridge, which introduces significant performance upgrades such as the Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) that accelerate signal and image processing applications like radar detection, medical imaging, and factory automation.
Other key upgrades include:
- Automated low-power states put processor, memory and I/O controller into lowest-available power states while meeting current workload requirements
- PCI Express 3.0* integrated on the processor die and two Intel® QuickPath Interconnect links boosts performance, reduce latency and save power
- More memory channels and PCIe lanes compare to previous generation for enhanced performance
The new processor is supported by a wide range of Alliance solutions for applications like networking and medicine. To explore these solutions, check out the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 series product listings in our Solutions Directory.
The links I’ve noted here show just a few examples of the solutions available from the Alliance. To learn more about the Alliance and its solutions, see intel.com/go/embeddedalliance
Advantech, Emerson Network Power, Kontron, Portwell, and Radisys are Premier members of the Intel® Embedded Alliance.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Editor-In-Chief Embedded Innovator magazine
Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston