As the number of embedded devices in industrial applications skyrocket, designers are faced with a growing list of connectivity, manageability, and security problems. Each of these devices along with the central control hub must be able to share and react to streaming data as part of an overall plan to optimize productivity while minimizing support costs. For example, this real time data can be used to identify production bottlenecks and enable remote diagnostics to predict maintenance needs. However, the biggest problem today in many industrial settings is poor interoperability among the individual devices and systems. Designers must spend untold hours analyzing and verifying connections and operation as new devices are added to a network.  Addressing these problems, Intel announced the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework to simplify connecting, managing, and securing embedded devices and data in a standardized, reliable, and scalable manner.

The Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework combines hardware architecture, operating systems, and software to create secure, interoperable platforms for intelligent systems.  For example, system processors with Intel® vPro™ Technology include built-in hardware support for remote management, virtualization, and certificate-based security with remote access for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. The framework also requires UEFI firmware BIOS and Trusted Platform Module compatibility to guarantee remote certification and authentication features. The framework includes software and operational middleware from Wind River, McAfee, and Intel for secure communications and manageability without sacrificing performance.


In order to simplify implementation in industrial applications, several Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance members now offer off-the-shelf platforms that support the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework. For example, Advantech recently introduced the AIMB-273, a new industrial-grade Mini-ITX motherboard featuring the Intel® QM77 chipset and the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i processors. The board combines the features of Advantech’s SUSIAccess remote management application and iManager 2.0 intelligent system tool (See figure 1) to match the requirements of the framework. In addition, the motherboard supports up to 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM and integrates Intel HD Graphics with DX11 support for enhanced graphics performance on three independent displays using VGA, HDMI, LVDS, and two DisplayPorts. I/O connectivity includes up to four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two SATA III ports, and two SATA II ports integrated into a standard 170 x 170 mm form factor. Compatible operating systems include Windows 7/8/XP, Windows 7/8/XP embedded, and Linux.




Kontron has also released a series of COM Express modules based on the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture and providing the connectivity, management, and security features of the framework. The COMe-bIP6 module supports up to 16 GB of dual-channel system memory (2x DDR3 SODIMM) in a small COM Express form factor targeting compute-intensive and remotely managed industrial applications (See figure 2). In addition to supporting the latest external interface technologies, the Intel® Core™ architecture enables these boards to deliver the performance-per-watt ratios and long-term availability required by the industrial market, plus integrated Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT 8.0) to simplify remote management. State-of-the-art graphics performance includes 2x DisplayPort, LVDS/eDP, and DVI interfaces, as well as support for three independent displays. The Kontron COM Express basic Computer-on-Modules COMe-bIP6 supports several Linux variants and VxWorks as well as the entire range of Windows operating systems.


Portwell also offers a product portfolio that supports the framework in industrial environments. The new PCOM-B219VG is contained on a 95mm x 95mm COM Express Compact form factor module and features the mobile Intel Express QM77 chipset with the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor (See figure 3). The Com Express module includes Intel® Turbo Boost Technology for faster processing, Intel® vPro™ Technology for remote capabilities and Intel® Hyper-threading for multithreaded processing. The module also supports up to 16GB ECC DDR3 SDRAM on two 204-pin SODIMM sockets. The expansion interface supports one PCI Express x16 Gen3 port for enhanced video performance and seven PCI Express x1 Gen2 ports. Running with a low thermal design power CPU, the PCOM-B219VG can perform in harsh environments from as low as -40 °C and up to 80 °C.


With the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework in place, designers can drastically shorten the typical development process required for industrial projects. The hardware design effort can be reduced by selecting compatible components or even eliminated by choosing a framework-ready platform such as those presented above. Application development and validation testing can also be condensed by using the pre-tested software and techniques offered by the framework. 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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Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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

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

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