My daughter recently outgrew her car seat. Being a busy parent, I had postponed the purchase of a new seat until she was bursting out of her old chair. Realizing I had waited too long, I drove to a nearby big-box store to buy whatever they had in stock. I foolishly assumed that the hardest part of the trip would be finding a seat that matched my car’s unusual yellow-and-black color scheme.


In reality, I was overwhelmed by the choices. The store had nearly a dozen options, with a confusing variety of specs and price points.  More alarmingly, I couldn’t figure out which was safest. How could I decide which one would best protect my baby without draining my bank account?

 

It was clear that I needed to do more research. At first I thought I could use the retailer’s smart phone app to help me navigate the options, but I quickly discovered that the app fell far short of my expectations. The user reviewers were limited (or non-existent), and I couldn’t find safety ratings. In the end, I went home and ordered a seat from my favorite ecommerce site, where it was easy to find what I needed. And the big box retailer lost what should have been an easy sale.

 

This scenario has become all too common for brick-and-mortar retailers. More than 40% of consumers evaluate items in-person before purchasing them online, but those online purchases aren’t always coming from the retailer’s site. This is a major problem considering that online sales are expected to grow by up to 12% this year, compared to a less-impressive 3.4% growth for retail overall (source: NRF). To avoid getting left behind, retailers need to thoughtfully integrate their in-person and on-line experiences, incorporating best-in-breed features in their mobile apps. That means doing things like offering extensive customer reviews and suggesting alternatives to items not in stock.

 

And while they are they are building these great apps, retailers also need to back them up with high-performance, reliable servers. Among other uses, servers are needed within the store to track inventory; at the home office to gather sales data and manage logistics; and in the cloud (including private clouds run by the retailer) to serve up mobile app content.

 

OEMs and developers targeting the retail industry can meet these needs with retail server solutions from the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. From modular components to market-ready retail systems, Intel and the 250+ global member companies of the Alliance collaborate with Intel and each other to innovate with the latest technologies, helping developers deliver first-in-market retail solutions to increase sales and efficiency.

 

For high-end systems such as cloud servers, the Alliance offers AdvancedTCA (ATCA) server blades like the ZNYX ZX9210 ATCA Compute Blade (Figure 1). This blade can host up to 32 virtual machines (VMs) in a single compute blade, each with a dedicated hardware thread, enabling excellent responsiveness. It features Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 Series processors (single- or dual-socket) and 16 DDR3 sockets for up to 512 GB – the largest memory footprint available in an ATCA form factor. The large socket count also enables cost-effective configurations for applications with lower memory requirements – as is often the case for cloud applications. In this scenario, the sockets can be populated with lower-cost, low-density DIMMs.

 

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Figure 1. The ZX9210 is notable for its 16 DDR3 slots.

 

For in-store or home-office applications, the Alliance offers a wide variety of rack-mounted servers. One good example is the Dell PowerEdge R420 (Figure 2). This 1U server is designed for space-constrained and dense deployments with a focus on energy efficiency and flexible I/O. With its 1- or 2-socket Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2400 configurations and up to 12 DIMMs, the R420 can support both consolidated and virtualized environments. PCIe* Gen3-enabled expansion slots and space for up to eight drives provide ample expansion options. Meanwhile, built-in reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) features ensure fast, highly available service – an important consideration for avoiding lost sales due to service failures.

 

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Figure 2. The Dell PowerEdge R420 focuses on efficiency and flexibility.

 

Of course, you may want to build your own server. If that’s the case, the Alliance has plenty of motherboard options to help you get started. For example, DFI-ITOX offers the CL630-CRM ATX motherboard based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1200 V2 series.  As is typical of this class of motherboard, I/O is plentiful, including 2 PCIe x16, 2 PCIe x4, 12 USB, and 6 SATA, and 3 independent displays.

 

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Figure 3. The CL630-CRM ATX motherboard is upgradable to the next-generation Intel® Xeon® processor codenamed “Haswell”.

 

What’s more noteworthy is this board’s support for next-generation Intel® Xeon® processor codenamed “Haswell”. These refreshed parts will bring a wealth of upgrades that improve performance, reliability, and efficiency, including:

 

  • Faster CPU performance
  • A major GPU upgrade
  • Significant security and manageability enhancements
  • Improved power-management features

 

These next-generation parts will be announced in June, check back in to this site to learn more after the launch, and to see how these new parts can aid your retail designs.

 

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

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DFI-ITOX is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

     Contact DFI-ITOX>>
ZNYX Networks, Inc. is a General member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editor-In-Chief Embedded Innovator magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston