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22 Posts authored by: wwebb

The recently announced 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor family (codenamed Haswell) delivers substantial performance, I/O, and power efficiency improvements for designers of industrial embedded systems. This new architecture emerges as manufacturers search for faster and more efficient factory automation tools to increase production, lower costs, consolidate equipment, and minimize downtime. Based on an enhanced tri-gate transistor design and 22 nm process technology, the new architecture offers embedded designers an up to 15 percent increase in processor performance, up to double the graphics performance, and up to 50 percent increase in battery life for portable applications when compared with the previous generation. Separate voltage planes were also added so that unused portions of the core can be rapidly shut down and restored to preserve power. In addition, new instructions are introduced to provide a performance improvement in integer and floating-point-intensive computations such as image processing applications and to accelerate data encryption and decryption in hardware.

 

Along with the announcement of the 4th generation Intel Core processor family, multiple members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance introduced a wide selection of compatible, off-the-shelf modules and systems that target industrial applications. For example, Advantech introduced the MIC-6311, a new 6U OpenVPX blade designed to take advantage of the performance improvements for rugged workstation and compute intense applications (See figure 1). The module features two Serial RapidIO ports in the VPX data plane in order to interface to digital front ends such as DSP and FPGA cards via a high speed, low latency deterministic interconnect. In addition, PCI Express 3.0 ports with up to 8 GB/s throughput offer a high performance interface to popular peripherals and IO cards. The 4th generation Intel Core processor family  also offer increased cache size and efficiency as well as instruction set upgrades with Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) 2.0 which make the MIC-6311 an effective compute engine with improved floating point and vector processing performance.  Tailored for the rugged environments found in industrial applications, the MIC-6311 maintains maximum memory throughput with dual channel error correcting code DRAM plus an onboard, soldered, solid state disk.


MIC6311.JPG

 

The Haswell architecture expands the graphics core with a greater number of execution units and the addition of a new processing engine to do a lot of the set-up work the CPU cores would once have handled. Highlighting this new graphics capability, Kontron announced the COM Express basic Computer-on-Module COMe-bHL6 to accelerate the implementation of the new processors into individual platforms for applications such as industrial plant and machine line control (See figure 2). The new modules offer increased performance density and up to twice the graphics performance compared to its predecessors. Three independent, daisy-chained displays with up to 4K resolution are supported through a mix of DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA external links. To simplify development of interactive graphics content, the Application Programming Interface (API) supports DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2 and OpenGL 4.0. The COMe-bHL6 module is available in several different variants ranging from the low-power processor versions up to quad-core Intel® Core™ i7 processors plus multiple peripheral interface ports. The Kontron COM Express basic Computer-on-Module COMe-bHL6 supports the full Windows OS portfolio along with Linux and Wind River* VxWorks.

 

Kontron-COMe-bJL6.jpg

 

The Haswell architecture also improves I/O flexibility with support for USB 3.0, PCI Express 3.0, and Serial ATA interfaces. Emphasizing a flexible expansion interface and improved performance for the industrial market, Portwell developed the WADE-8015, a Mini-ITX form factor embedded system board, which incorporates the Intel® Q87 chipset and the 4th generation Intel Core processor family (See figure 3). Unlike existing Mini-ITX boards in the marketplace, which utilize a riser card to increase functional interfaces or additional PCIe/PCI slots, the Portwell WADE-8015 uses an extension board to furnish a flexible platform that allows multiple functional expansion choices for customized system integration. The WADE-8015 offers multiple additional features including 6 Gb/s storage via four Serial ATA interfaces supporting multiple RAID modes plus the latest PCI Express 3.0 delivers high speed and bandwidth at up to 8 GT/s. In addition, peripheral interfaces include 10 USB ports, two memory slots for up to 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and triple displays via VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort. The Portwell WADE-8015 is also equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors and a Mini-PCI Express interface with a mini-SATA connector for storage-demanding applications.

 

WADE-8015_Portwell.jpg

 

The Advantech, Kontron, and Portwell products covered above are a just a few of the new industrial products already available from Alliance members that incorporate the 4th generation Intel Core processor family. These off-the-shelf products allow intelligent systems developers to immediately take advantage of the increased performance, reduced power requirements, and I/O flexibility of this new processor architecture. You can keep up with the latest products and articles featuring the 4th generation Intel Core processor family at the Top Picks webpage.  If you are ready to start an intelligent industrial automation project based on the Haswell architecture, please share your questions and comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.

 

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Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with thehttp://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/intelligent-systems/alliance-overview.htmlhttp://www.intel.com/design/network/ica/Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.


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

    Contact Advantech>>

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

    Contact Kontron>>

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

    Contact Portwell>>

 

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.

 

A6_iManager.jpg

 

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.


kontron-come-bip.jpg


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.


Portwellmedium.jpg


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.

     Contact Advantech

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

     Contact Kontron

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

     Contact Portwell


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

As design teams create remote and mobile industrial automation systems, the commercial cellular infrastructure has become a popular technology to implement M2M and cloud connectivity. Cellular networks offer some advantages and deployment options not available with the traditional public Internet. For example, designers are able to simplify cloud connections and eliminate new capital expenditures for networking when modifying or expanding the physical layout of a production facility. Network carriers provide a reliable cellular infrastructure built over decades with components that meet or exceed the 99.999% (5 Nines) high-availability standard. In addition, cellular networks can be used to merge computing resources outside of the local data center and easily interface to mobile machinery or vehicles. This blog covers a few off-the-shelf products from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members that incorporate cellular connectivity to interconnect task specific local interfaces.

 

In order for factories and production facilities to optimize the benefits of cloud connectivity, all of the individual components must be interconnected. This requirement extends to mobile machinery such as industrial trucks, forklifts, and robotic systems which are often used as a part of the manufacturing process. Targeting these applications, Kontron recently announced the MICROSPACE MPCX60 on-board computer to bring cellular connectivity to mobile vehicles and industrial machinery (See figure 1). Available with the low power, dual-core Intel® Atom™ D525 processor operating at 1.2 GHZ, the new vehicle computer provides PCI/104-Express or CompactPCI expansion slots for a variety of interface extensions. The system design is fanless and shock/vibration-resistant, suitable for rugged industrial environments and includes a wide-range power supply designed for industrial battery voltages. The new MICROSPACE® MPCX60 offers a multitude of standard interfaces including VGA, DVI or LVDS for displays, six USB 2.0 ports, plus four serial and two CAN bus interfaces. For wireless connectivity applications, there are antenna connectors at the rear for W-LAN (wireless local area network), GSM (Global System for Mobile), and GPS (Global Positioning System). The new Kontron vehicle computers support Windows, Linux, and VxWorks operating software.

 

kontron-mpcx60.jpg

 

For portable factory management functions which may not always be in the local production area, Alliance member NORCO offers the PPC-3308, a ruggedized, 8.4 inch portable tablet with cellular connectivity capability (See figure 2). The waterproof tablet is based on the 1.5 GHz "Oak Trail" Intel Atom Z670 processor with 1 or 2 GB of DDR2 memory and up to 64 GB of local storage. The 800 x 600 resolution LCD display includes a 4 wire resistive touch interface, an integrated numeric keypad, and is sunlight readable. The system includes both 1.3 megapixel front and 3 megapixel rear cameras along with local network interface circuitry for 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The tablet includes options for multiple high speed wireless broadband protocols including EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) plus both wideband and time division CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). The PPC-3308 is compatible with both the Windows and Linux operating systems.

 

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Due to rapidly changing technology and geography-based protocol availability, industrial products featuring cellular connectivity must include provisions to easily adjust the protocol standard to match local networks. For example, the EHS5 miniPCIe from Alliance member Cinterion is a plug-in data modem module in the PCI Express form factor that provides cellular connectivity to industrial systems such as the products described above (See figure 3). The module provides dual-band 3G and 2G support enabling geographically optimized Internet access and cloud-based services for mid-range bandwidth requirements of up to 7.2 Mbps downlink and 5.76 Mbps uplink. With an extended temperature range from -40 °C up to 85 °C, the EHS5 miniPCIe is suitable for industrial environments or outdoor sites that lack cooling and heating systems. The card provides simple plug-in integration via the standardized 52-pin PCIe system connector and works with built-in Windows and Linux modem drivers. An optional micro SIM card holder allows for easy replacement of mini PCI Express cards to transform existing WiFi applications into cellular-based intelligent systems.

 

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These products show how Intel processor and communications technologies can be used to simplify the transition to cellular-based connectivity and remote accessibility for industrial applications. With this universal connectivity in place, design teams can turn their attention to developing value from the massive amounts of data available from fully integrated embedded systems. If you think that this cellular 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 cellular connectivity.

 

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

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. NORCO and Cinterion are Associate members of the Alliance. 

A typical industrial system may require multiple hardware and software updates over its life span as designers and management strive to optimize factory automation equipment and lower production costs.  Typical hardware changes include a wide range of new high-speed I/O requirements, interactive displays, and signal analysis circuitry plus the related control software. To cope with these frequent updates, industrial designers are adopting an extensible design concept based on Intel® Core™ architecture with scalable technology that can be easily customized to match future needs. Both the second and third generation Intel® Core™ architectures provide a modular and expandable framework that designers can use to boost performance, reduce the system component count, lower power requirements, and enhance I/O flexibility while simplifying future product changes and software updates.

 

The Intel® Core™ processor family provides an easily expandable I/O configuration for industrial automation platforms allowing designers to modify functionality as requirements change.  The processors combine a variable number of CPU cores, Last Level Cache (LLC), a System Agent, and an optional integrated graphics processor. The System Agent is the heart of the I/O system and includes multiple PCI-Express lanes, Direct Media Interface (DMI), a dual-channel memory controller, and the display engine. Combined with an external chipset, the combination can also produce a wide range of I/O such as Serial ATA, up to 14 USB 2.0 ports, and multiple display outputs including HDMI, DVI, VGA, DP, LVDS, and Intel® SDVO. The latest 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture, based on tri-gate transistor design and 22 nm process technology, delivers enhanced performance features that are ideal for rugged, industrial applications supporting high-speed, high-definition image analysis and multiple video displays.

 

Industrial automation designers can take advantage of the adaptable features of Intel® Core™ architecture by integrating COTS products from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members into their new projects. For example, CompuLab offers industrial PCs designed for customization and extensibility that are based around Intel® Core™ processors. Their Intense PC family benefits from low power draw and quiet operation yet features up to 16 GB of DDR3 system memory, dual-head high definition displays, surround sound digital audio, dual Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, up to six USB 2.0 ports, dual eSATA, two mini-PCIe sockets, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and an RS232 serial port (See figure 1). In addition, the PCs offer custom functionality and I/O modularity courtesy of the Function and Connectivity Extension (FACE) modules. Taking the form of an internal extension board with a sheet-metal panel to the front, FACE module specifications and reference designs have been published to allow for third party design of custom boards for seamless integration into the Intense PC family. Several FACE modules have been designed by CompuLab to extend functionality, including one that offers more Gigabit Ethernet ports and another that makes two mini-PCI-Express slots available.

 

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Alliance member AAEON Technology also offers off-the-shelf products with expandable architectures for industrial applications. The recently introduced IMBM-B75A is a Micro-ATX form factor industrial motherboard based on the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor and Intel® B75 Express chipset (See figure 2). "This industrial motherboard supports up to ten USB ports for system integrators in need of numerous and flexible interfaces," said Jill Chu, Product Manager of AAEON’s Industrial System Division. "Furthermore, IMBM-B75A enables support for up to three independent or simultaneous Full HD displays via HDMI or VGA, making it ideal for Multimedia, Control Room, Building Automation and Industrial Factory applications.” Additionally, this board offers five COM ports, three Audio jacks, one keyboard/mouse and an eight-bit digital I/O. Users can also increase board functionality with both sixteen and four lane PCI-Express interfaces plus an optional onboard Trusted Platform Module.

 

IMBM-B75A-3D-01-small.jpg

 

These products are just a couple of examples where designers of industrial systems can take advantage of Intel® Core™ architecture to prepare for the unavoidable upgrades and modifications needed to support a state-of-the-art factory production environment. With this built-in flexibility and a little advanced planning, design teams can create industrial systems that can be easily transformed for the next generation. If you think that Intel® Core™ architecture fits your next factory 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 Intel® Architecture.

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

interoperability.jpgTo view community content on interoperability, see "Interoperability - Top Picks” 

 

Warren Webb

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


AAEON Technology is an Associate member of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. CompuLab is a General member of the Alliance. 

The new 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ (codenamed Ivy Bridge) platform delivers substantial performance, I/O, and power efficiency improvements for designers of industrial embedded systems. New architectural enhancements yield as much as a 20% increase in computing power plus up to 40% improved performance per watt when compared to the previous generation. Supporting high performance industrial embedded applications, the new architecture also includes extended instructions plus a major upgrade to the integrated graphics section featuring 30% more execution units and three independent digital display interfaces. To deal with the faster I/O data rate requirements of the latest industrial designs, the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ platform now supports PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0. This post will cover the new features in detail along with compatible products from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members.

 

One of the most innovative changes to the processor architecture is the 3-D tri-gate transistor technology implemented with conducting channels on three sides of a vertical fin structure (See figure 1). This three dimensional arrangement allows current flow to be controlled on three sides of the channel instead of just the top resulting in higher currents when “on” and minimum leakage when “off”. This 3-D tri-gate design along with the 22 nm process technology allows Intel® to increase transistor density from the Sandy Bridge generation’s 995 million transistors with a die size of 216 mm² to 1.4 billion transistors on a 160 mm² die. The tri-gate architecture also allows transistors to be operated at a lower threshold voltage to reduce overall power requirements while improving switching speeds to boost performance. Several of the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ processors are also available with a configurable thermal design power (TDP) so that portable devices can conserve power when operating on batteries yet run at a higher frequencies as needed when docked.

 

3D Transistor.PNG

 

In addition to the structural improvements, the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ processors also includes an improved integrated graphics unit that delivers up to twice the 3-D graphics performance compared to the previous generation processor. The Intel® HD Graphics 4000 core includes a number of performance features that target industrial applications that require high-speed, high-definition image analysis and multiple video displays. Built-in features such as Intel® Quick Sync Video Technology employs dedicated hardware for video encode, decode, and transcode operations while Intel® Clear Video HD Technology enables jitter-free, 1080p playback with enhanced color fidelity.  The Intel® HD Graphics 4000 provides up to 16 execution units with Microsoft’s DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.1 (Shader Model 5) support. With interfaces for three independent displays, the integrated graphics unit also enables multi-screen applications without the need for a separate graphics controller.

 

Industrial designers can also take advantage of new security features built into the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ processors such as Intel® Secure Key which protects equipment and data with an improved digital random number generator to strengthen encryption algorithms. The new architecture also supports Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) to improve the security of virtualization operations with hardware-assist to allocate memory and I/O devices to specific partitions to decrease the processor load and reduce virtual machine switching times. For example, LynuxWorks recently updated their LynxSecure embedded hypervisor that allows multiple guest operating systems and their applications to execute at the same time, in virtual partitions, without compromising security, reliability or data integrity. According to Arun Subbarao, VP of Engineering for LynuxWorks, “The multi-core and virtualization support that LynxSecure offers for these next generation of Intel® processors helps maximize the performance and security of applications running on a wide selection of virtualized guest OSes and allows them to take full advantage of all Intel’s performance improvements including the new integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4000 engine.”

 

Industrial automation designers can easily incorporate many of these technology improvements by employing off the shelf products from alliance member with products that have already integrated the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ architecture. For example, Kontron recently announced the Kontron KTQM77/mITX, a Mini-ITX motherboard for embedded applications, featuring the Intel® QM77 Express Chipset and 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors (See figure 2). The small form factor module includes the latest serial I/O performance such as PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0 and support for up to three independent displays. In addition, Kontron provides operating system support for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Embedded Standard 7, VxWorks, as well as multiple versions of Linux.

 

Kontron-KTQM77-mITX.JPG

 

These products are just a couple of examples where industrial designers can take advantage of the performance improvements and energy efficiency of Ivy Bridge. If you are ready to start a factory automation project please share your 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ 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 Ivy Bridge.

 

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

 

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

 

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


Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Microsoft is an Associate member and LynuxWorks is an Affiliate member of the Alliance. 

As the new 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ (Ivy Bridge) architecture emerges, off-the-shelf module makers have announced a variety of new products to take advantage of the improved performance, I/O, and power efficiency for embedded systems. These new COTS products come at a time when industrial manufacturers are looking for faster and more efficient factory automation tools to increase production, lower costs, and beat the competition. Based on an innovative tri-gate transistor design and 22 nm process technology, the new 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™  processor architecture offers embedded designers an integrated graphics engine with improved performance along with high speed data I/O for enhanced real-time applications.  The Ivy Bridge architecture also supports USB 3.0 when paired with the Intel® 7 Series Chipset Family to increase maximum I/O data rates from the current 480 Mbps to 5 Gbps.

 

The 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ Processor family includes a number of enhanced performance features that are ideal for rugged, industrial applications supporting high-speed, high-definition image analysis and multiple video displays.  For example, the newly integrated Intel® HD4000 graphics core performs up to 50 percent better than its predecessors and can control up to three independent displays simultaneously. Intel® Quick Sync Video Technology uses dedicated hardware on the processor instead of software to accelerate media processing functions such as video encode, decode, and transcode operations. In addition, Intel® Clear Video HD Technology integrates multiple hardware and software image processing technologies to enable jitter-free, 1080p playback with enhanced color fidelity. The Ivy Bridge graphics core also supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, allowing clock frequencies to scale up temporarily to handle intense workloads.  For enhanced security, the architecture includes a hardware-based random number generator for higher performance encryption to provide protection against malware attacks.

 

The fastest way to take advantage these performance gains in factory automation applications is to incorporate COTS products that have already integrated the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ architecture. For instance, congatec recently announced the conga-TM77 COM Express module that can be ordered with either the 35W i7-3612QE or the 45W i7-3615QE quad core processors (See figure 1). The module supports Intel® Flexible Display Interface, DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.1, and OpenCL 1.1, as well as a MPEG-2 hardware decoding unit in order to decode multiple high resolution full HD videos in parallel. In addition to VGA and LVDS, the module has three digital display interfaces, each of which can be configured for DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI. Eight USB ports are provided and three of those are capable of USB 3.0 Superspeed operation.  System expansion features include seven PCI Express 2.0 lanes, 16 PCI Express graphics 3.0 lanes, four SATA interfaces, and a gigabit Ethernet port. The conga-TM77 is available immediately and prices start at less than $1,000 in single unit quantities.

 

conga-TM77_press.jpg

 

Extreme Engineering Solutions (X-ES) plans to support the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor across multiple industry-standards including COM Express, VPX, CompactPCI, VME, PMC, and XMC form factors. The XPedite7470 3U VPX Single Board Computer is one of the first products announced and is available with either the 2.1 GHz i7-3612QE or the 2.3 GHz i7-3615QE processors (See figure 2). The module supports high-bandwidth and processing-intensive applications with two PCI Express Fat Pipe P1 interconnects and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The XPedite7470 accommodates up to 8 GB of DDR3 ECC SDRAM plus numerous I/O ports including USB 2.0, SATA, graphics, and RS-232/422/485.  The module can be used in either the system slot or peripheral slot of a VPX backplane. Board support packages are available for Wind River VxWorks, QNX, Neutrino, Green Hills INTEGRITY, and Linux as well as drivers for Microsoft Windows.

 

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These products are a couple of examples where designers of industrial systems can get a head start in project development to capture the performance improvements and energy efficiency of the 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™. These commercial off-the-shelf products allow design teams to trade a slightly higher recurring cost for a shortened development schedule. If you think that Ivy Bridge fits your next factory 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 the Ivy Bridge. Also, please check back as I uncover more 3rd-Generation Intel® Core™ architecture products that you can use to extend the performance of your next industrial project.

 

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

efficiency.jpg

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


Microsoft, Wind River, and congatec are Associate members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. QNX and Green Hills Software are Affiliate members of the Alliance.  Extreme Engineering Solutions is a General member of the Alliance.


As the new Cedar Trail architecture takes hold in off the shelf embedded modules, designers are able to quickly take advantage of the higher performance, lower power, ubiquitous connectivity, and an expanded graphical user interface in new development projects. As I covered in an earlier post, the Cedar Trail platform includes the next generation Intel® Atom™ processor ranging from the 1.66 GHz N2600 and 1.85 GHz N2800 up to the high performance 2.13 GHz D2700. This new architecture is based on 32 nm process technology and offers 7 year availability for extended lifecycle embedded applications. All of the processor options are dual-core, support up to 4 GB of DDR3 system memory, feature improved thermal design power, and interface with the Intel NM10 Express chipset. Multiple manufacturers have come to market with commercial off the shelf (COTS) modules based on the Cedar Trail platform to give designers new options for high performance, low power, and small form factor embedded applications.

 

Targeting applications that require enhanced performance, energy efficiency, manageability, security functions, and smoother visual experiences Avalue Technology recently introduced the ECM-CDV module based on the Cedar Trail platform (See figure 1). The module is designed to the Qseven COM standard and includes graphics, sound, mass storage, network connectivity, and multiple USB ports supporting most embedded applications. Packaged in a small, 70mm x 70mm (2.75” x 2.75”) form factor, the ECM-CDV provides a single-channel Low Voltage Differential Signal (LVDS) Display Interface, two Serial ATA ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet interface, and three PCI Express connections. Qseven modules are smaller than other COM standards such as COM Express or ETX and are mounted onto an application specific carrier board through a single ruggedized MXM connector. The Qseven standard is also legacy-free and the maximum power consumption is limited to 12 watts.

 

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COM Express is one of the most popular module standards for embedded systems offering designers a large number of competing products and lower recurring prices. For example, the Congatec conga-TCA COM Express module supports the Intel Atom N2600, N2800, D2700 processors and features up to 4GB single-channel DDR3 memory, five PCI Express x1 lanes, two SATA 2.0, eight USB 2.0, two optional USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet interface, fan control, LPC bus, and Intel high definition audio (See figure 3). Thanks to its low power consumption and compact measurements (95 x 95 mm) the conga-TCA is particularly well suited for applications in medical and automation technology, POS, kiosks and digital signage. Smart power and battery management guarantee long battery life, an essential factor for cost savings in portable devices. Conga-TCA is available now and prices start at less than $200 US in OEM quantities.

 

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Eurotech has also introduced a new COTS module for applications which demand the most graphical and I/O performance while still needing a low power, small, and fanless design in markets such as industrial automation, medical, and in-vehicle infotainment. The Catalyst CV is a compact 67 x 100mm module based on the Intel Atom N2x00 processor with the NM10 Express chipset and delivers dual-core performance at CPU speeds up to 1.6GHz and extensive multimedia performance (See figure 2). Multimedia interfaces include full HD up to 1080p, Blu-Ray, HDMI, and DisplayPort.  The Catalyst CV offers a range of operating system environments including Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard, and Windows Embedded Compact. For full end-to-end solutions, the Catalyst CV also supports Eurotech's Everyware Software Framework and Everyware Device Cloud. The Catalyst CV will be generally available in Q2 of 2012.

 

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Pre-engineered, off-the-shelf boards and modules offer designers a clear shortcut to the improved graphics performance, lower power, reduced component count, and lower cost benefits of the Cedar Trail platform.  You can find a more information on the next generation Intel® Atom™ processors including technical datasheets, webinars, and videos at the N2000 and D2000 website. If you are starting an embedded design and plan to incorporate the next generation Intel® Atom™ platform, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can also keep up with the latest related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel Atom N2800 D2700.

 

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

 

Avalue Technology, Congatec, and Eurotech are Associate members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

The recent release of Intel’s Cedar Trail platform has caused quite a stir in the embedded community as designers scramble to take advantage of the improved graphics performance, lower power requirements, reduced component count, and overall lower costs. As I covered in part 1 of this series, Cedar Trail is based on the next generation Intel® Atom™ processor plus the Intel NM10 Express chipset for embedded computing. This new architecture offers seven year lifecycle support and is available in several versions so that a single design can be scaled to fit multiple embedded applications. Within a week of the release of the new Intel® Atom™ processors, over a dozen embedded computing manufacturers worldwide announced multiple boards, modules, and other hardware based on this new architecture. Let’s take a look at some of these Cedar Trail-based products and uncover the benefits compared to previous architectures.

 

A wide range of embedded devices incorporate standardized, off-the-shelf computer-on-module (COM) architectures so that they can be easily upgraded to the latest technology by simply plugging in a new computer board.  For example, the new PCOM-B218VG COM Express module from Portwell provides the new Intel® Atom™ processor architecture to a variety of existing military, medical, industrial and networking applications (See figure 1). The 95mm x 95mm (3.74˝ x 3.74˝) module includes the integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 graphics engine to enhance 3D performance for media applications such as high definition 1080p imaging, and two DisplayPort (DP) interfaces that support multiple DP/HDMI/DVI functions.  The PCOM-B218VG is designed with the intelligent ability to monitor system loading and allocate computing power to optimize energy efficiency. Onboard security firmware provides hash functionality, ATA commands, and flash region protection to ensure that the system is secure from hacking during operation.  Remote display and control functions allow customers to control systems without a local monitor and keyboard to simplify system designs and also save the cost of sending technicians to perform on-site services.

 

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The M1858 patient infotainment terminal from ARBOR Technology is a great example of new, high performance embedded devices supporting the healthcare industry (See figure 2).  The 18.5" terminal is designed around the Intel® Atom™ Dual Core N2800 processor which allows a fanless, ventless configuration that can guarantee anti-bacterial protection for bedside deployment. The system provides patient identification through integrated RFID, barcode scanner, and dual smart card reader slots. According to ARBOR’s chairman Eric Lee "The latest Intel® Atom™-based platform provides enriched video playback, such as full MPEG2, WMV, and MPEG4 with the hardware decode/acceleration technology. This enabled ARBOR to design a patient infotainment terminal that can not only inform and entertain patients but also shortens data checking time for medical staff through integrated connectivity to access patient’s records, medication data, and radiology information."

 

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Digital signage, gaming, point-of-sale, and kiosk applications are a large and growing portion of the embedded landscape and will benefit greatly from the Intel® Atom™ processor architecture performance improvements. Many of these systems operate unattended and require high-speed, high-definition image processing to drive one or more displays. Supporting these applications, DFI launched a compact, low-profile embedded computer system powered by the 1.60GHz dual-core Intel Atom processor N2600 and Intel http://www.dfi.com/Upload/Press/ACP/en_US/Digital-Signage-DS910-CD-Datasheet.pdfNM10 I/O Express chipset (See figure 3). The DS910-CD offers 5 watts system total design power (TDP) along with fanless cooling for-low power, low-noise installations. The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3600 integrated into the processor delivers high quality graphics with DirectX 9, Open GL 3.0, PAVP 1.1c, and HDCP 1.3 support to fulfill a variety of applications using HDMI and DVI graphics interfaces with up to 1920 x 1200 display resolutions. The DS910-CD supports 2 hardware decoders (H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2) with full HD 1080p video playback capability for dual independent displays.

 

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The new Cedar Trail platform is also an excellent choice for low-power, handheld/portable embedded device development.  With a focus on these super low-power applications, Advantech recently announced the SOM-7565 COM-Express mini module powered by the N2600 Intel® Atom™ processor (See figure 4). The compact design (84 x 55 mm) is about the size of a business card, making it suitable for portable applications in point of sale, transportation, medical and factory devices. The dual-core processor delivers a 40% or more improvement in processing power compared to Intel® Atom™ processors N455 and E680. According to Miller Chang, Vice President of Advantech Embedded Computing Group, “Low power features are an important requirement when we develop industrial computers. The latest Intel® Atom™ processor N2000 and D2000 series have not only reduced power consumption, making them more environmentally friendly, but also enabled embedded platforms to improve computing capabilities, especially for graphics and display intensive applications.”

 

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These new products based on the new Intel® Atom™ processor architecture are just the tip of the embedded iceberg. More than thirty new embedded products have already been announced with plenty more in work. Here are a few more examples:

 

Aaeon - 7 boards: COM-CV, XTX-CV, PFM-CVS, EPIC-CV07, GENE-CV05, EMB-NM10, TKS-G21-CV05

Avalue - ECM-CDV 3.5-inch, EBM-CDV 5.25-inch, and EQM-CDV Q7 Module

BCM Advanced Research - MX260N Mini-ITX module and NX260N Nano-ITX industrial motherboard

Emerson - COM Express module, Mini-ITX motherboard, and Nano-ITX embedded motherboard

Eurotech - 67 x 100 mm form factor Catalyst platform

IEI - 3.5-inch Ultra Low Power Embedded SBC

Norco - Mini-ITX motherboard

SBS Science & Technology Co. - Rugged tablet SPC-1005B

TimeSys - Expanded LinuxLink offering to support Cedar Trail

 

You can find a more information on the next generation Intel® Atom™ Processors including technical datasheets, webinars, and videos at the N2000 and D2000 website. If you are starting an embedded design and plan to incorporate the next generation Intel® Atom™ platform, 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 related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel Atom N2800 D2700.

 

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

 

Advantech and Emerson are Premier members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Portwell, Avalue, Aaeon, Eurotech, IEI, Norco, BCM Advanced Research, and DFI are Associate members of the Alliance, Arbor Technology and SBS Science and Technology are Affiliate members, and TimeSys is a General member.

 

 

As competition grows, embedded designers must pack increased performance, real-time connectivity, and interactive graphics features into each new design while reducing power requirements to eliminate fans or extend battery life. Some of the latest specifications in critical applications such as healthcare also call for always-on, always-connected embedded devices to eliminate delays due to startup and data updates. The current generation of consumers that grew up with computers and smart phones also expect an easy to use, graphics-based device interface. To minimize future development efforts, designers also want to create scalable systems that can be easily upgraded as performance expectations increase. And as with all embedded projects, design teams are looking for the best architecture that can enable low cost, small form factor configurations with the minimum number of components.

 

Addressing these escalating requirements, the recently released the next generation Intel® Atom™ processor based platform (codenamed Cedar Trail) offers improved performance and lower power consumption along with improved graphics features including a dedicated media engine and enhanced display options.  Based on 32 nm process technology, this new architecture offers extended 7 year lifecycle support and multiple versions with that can be optimized for individual embedded applications and provide improved performance and power efficiency. The new embedded Intel® Atom™ processors include the 1.66 GHz N2600 with 3.5 W thermal design power (TDP), the 1.85 GHz N2800 with 6.5 W TDP, and the high performance 2.13 GHz D2700 with 10 W TDP. All of the processor options are dual-core, support up to 4 GB of DDR3 system memory, and interface with the Intel NM10 Express chipset for embedded computing (See figure 1).

 

Cedar-Trail-Small.gif

 

The new Intel® Atom™ processors 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 display features are well suited for embedded market applications such as digital signage, retail terminals, medical devices, and industrial controls.

 

One of the key improvements of the Cedar Trail platform for embedded devices is the low power consumption while delivering dual core performance. Designers can now develop power-efficient portable devices with up to 10 hours of battery life. These enhanced performance-per-watt scores also enable embedded designers to create always-on, always-connected devices using Intel Smart Connect Technology that interacts with the communications channel and updates data while it is in sleep mode. The N2600 and N2800 processors also support Intel® Deep Power Down Technology which significantly reduces power usage during idle periods so that internal transistor power leakage is minimal. Next generation embedded devices must provide the immediate response and rapid boot-up sequences similar to the “instant on” features of today’s consumer electronics technology. For fixed function embedded devices, the Intel® Boot Loader Development Kit allows designers to create customized initialization firmware to reduce boot-up times to less than a second. Intel® Rapid Start Technology enables fast resume from standby mode and helps conserve battery life for the more general embedded operating systems including Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7, Microsoft Windows XP/XPe, Microsoft Embedded Compact 7, and Yocto.

 

The question for embedded designers is how to best take advantage of these new features. One in depth approach is to start with an Intel® Development Kit featuring the N2800 or D2700 processor and the NM10 Express chipset (See figure 2). These kit features a small form factor, all-in-one design with dual independent display capabilities in a fanless system. The board provides standard VGA display ports with options for embedded DisplayPort (eDP), DVI-I or HDMI, and single or dual-channel LVDS. Other I/O ports include dual or single 10/100/1000 Mb/s integrated LAN, integrated Intel® HD Audio, serial ports, expansion capabilities, and debug features. Kits are initially priced at $249 and ship as a complete system in a mini-ITX chassis including the development board with 2 GB DDR3 memory, a solid state disk, power supply, documentation, and software.

 

Development Kit.JPG

 

An even faster method to get involved with the next generation Intel® Atom™ processor based platform is to investigate pre-engineered, off-the-shelf boards, modules, and platforms that have already integrated this new architecture. In the wake of the release of the Cedar Trail architecture, embedded computing manufacturers worldwide have announced many new products that will benefit from the improved graphics performance, lower power, reduced component count, and lower costs.  In the second part of this blog series, I will present a selection of boards, modules, and other hardware based on this new architecture and explain how these products can help developers leverage the Cedar Trail platform. If you are starting an embedded design and plan to incorporate the next generation Intel® Atom™ platform, 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 related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel Atom N2800 D2700.

 

An even faster method to get involved with the next generation Intel®  Atom™ processor based platform is to investigate pre-engineered,  off-the-shelf boards, modules, and platforms that have already  integrated this new architecture. In the wake of the release of the  Cedar Trail architecture, embedded computing manufacturers worldwide  have announced many new products that will benefit from the improved  graphics performance, lower power, reduced component count, and lower  costs.  In the second part of this blog series, I will present a  selection of boards, modules, and other hardware based on this new  architecture and explain how these products can help developers leverage  the Cedar Trail platform. If you are starting an embedded design and  plan to incorporate the next generation Intel® Atom™ platform, 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 related technical articles and product  announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel Atom N2800 D2700.

 

 

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

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

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RadiSys is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Hewlett Packard is an Associate member of the Alliance.

Retail, industrial, transportation, medical, and gaming are just a few of the industry segments that now deploy remote terminals, systems, and signage to speed information delivery, enhance user interaction, automate data exchange, and simplify purchases. For example, as travelers enter a typical airport environment they may find a touch-screen information display with on screen maps, transportation schedules, nationwide weather conditions, and local tourist information. Next, the traveler proceeds to the ticket kiosk to purchase tickets or to a self check-in terminal that retrieves customer records and prints a boarding pass.  As the numbers of remote devices multiply, embedded designers must find ways to incorporate system protection, management, and troubleshooting features to lower the total cost of ownership and minimize on-site visits.

 

The recently deployed 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors deliver a number of performance and security enhancements that support the requirements of remote, unmanned devices such as point-of-sale terminals, digital signage, and self-service kiosks. In addition to long term availability, increased performance, lower power, and integrated graphics, 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.

 

Intel® vPro™ includes several technologies that provide hardware support for management functions, virtualization, and platform security. Intel® Active Management Technology (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 remote device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage future software updates. 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. 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 get started with Intel® vPro™ technology is to integrate products that have been certified or tested for compliance. For example, AOpen designed Intel® vPro™ technology into the MP57-D digital engine supporting a wide range of remote digital signage applications in industries such as healthcare, banking, education, transportation and retail (See figure 1). The platform supports remote power control, scheduled power control, remote access, hardware asset tracking, and system alerts to minimize the number and cost of on-site visits for system management. The MP57-D features an Intel Core i5/i7 processor coupled with the Intel QM57 chipset and is equipped with a 2.5-inch solid state disk drive, and up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM. For I/O, the system features a DVI-i port, a HDMI port, an Expansion slot, plus HD Audio, Gigabit Ethernet, six USB ports, and an eSATA connector.

 

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If your embedded project requires custom circuitry, you can develop it around an Intel® vPro™ certified, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) processor board such as the Kontron ETXexpress-AI COM Express Computer-on-Module (See figure 2). The ETXexpress-AI has gone through Intel® vPro™ Use Case Validation at Intel’s hardware enabling lab. The module is available with the Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processor and supports up to 2 x 4 GB of dual channel DDR3 SO-DIMM modules with ECC. Interfaces via the COM Express COM.0 Type 2 connector include a 1x PCI Express Gen 2 graphics, 6x PCI Express x1, 4x Serial ATA, 1x PATA, 8x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-channel LVDS, VGA, and Intel® High Definition Audio. Non-PCI Express-compliant components can be incorporated via the PCI 2.3 interfaces. Operating system support is offered for Windows 7, Windows XP, Linux, and VxWorks.

 

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On-site software updates, troubleshooting, and routine maintenance can be an enormous cost for remotely deployed embedded devices. Intel® vPro™ technology eliminates many of these visits with remote maintenance and management even when the devices are powered off or have software issues. 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.

 

Contact Kontron to further discuss this topic -->

 

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

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. AOpen is a General member of the Alliance.

As competition heats up among embedded system manufacturers, designers are adopting off-the-shelf Computer On Module(COM) technology to reduce risk, lower development cost, and shorten the time to market. These pre-engineered plug-in computer modules allow development teams to focus their design efforts on a carrier board to deliver the unique functions of the embedded product. Although these modules offer substantial advantages, there is a significant hardware and software learning curve required when a new standard device is first adopted. To ease this initial education process, most COM manufacturers offer embedded development or starter kits with a sample carrier board, interconnecting cables, power supply, software, and user manuals to support their products.

 

In order to standardize the contents of these starter kits and shorten the time it takes to begin embedded application development, Wind River partnered with a host of COM vendors to introduce the On-Board Program. Participating processor board manufacturers receive software tools, documentation, and training in order to develop, test, and validate their own unique embedded starter kits.  In addition to Wind River’s automated board support package (BSP) validation suite, technical support, and training, board vendors also receive optimized configurations of Wind River’s operating systems, development tools, embedded hypervisor, and graphics software. Kits include a bootable USB flash drive that immediately turns any host computer into a fully integrated development environment with no installation required and a custom startup guide with a set of step-by-step tutorials intended to make the developer productive in a matter of hours.

 

As a member of the Wind River On-Board Program, ADLINK Technology offers compatible starter kits for a number of their processor boards to speed application development. For example, the nanoX Computer-on-Module Starter Kit includes a COM Express Type 1/10 core module with a reference carrier board, a 10.1" LVDS panel, LVDS-to-TTL conversion board, an Advanced Digital Display 2 DVI card, power supply, heatsink, and cabling accessories (See figure 1).  In addition to schematics, a design guide,  and user manuals, the kit comes with a USB stick containing documentation, drivers, board support packages, and software libraries. Along with other ADLINK products, the nanoX Starter Kit supports the previously covered nanoX-TC COM Express compatible module featuring the Intel® Atom™ Processor E6xx series architecture in a new 84 mm x 55 mm “Ultra” form factor that is about the size of a typical credit card.

 

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The carrier board for the nanoX Starter Kit is significant because it serves as a template or model for the embedded designer as he develops the application specific carrier module. The included nanoX-BASE is an ATX-size COM Express Type 1 and Type 10 Reference Carrier Board with an onboard PCI Express-to-PCI Bridge plus a range of peripherals to support multiple interface technologies. On-board peripherals include four PCI Express x1 slots, one PCI Express x16 slot, two PCI slots, a Serial Digital Video Out slot, one ExpressCard slot, one Secure Digital IO/MultiMediaCard slot, USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN, and Super I/O (See figure 2).

 

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Along with a complete starter kit, the right architecture is also important in getting a fast start with a new processor board such as the nanoX-TC.  The Intel® Atom™E6xx architecture provides a number of performance improvements and features such as integrated display, audio, and memory interfaces to simplify small form factor embedded designs. For example, 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.

 

The right combination of a comprehensive embedded development kit tailored to straightforward processor architecture offers designers a shortcut to carrier board design and software verification. The Wind River On-Board Program along with Intel® Atom™E6xx series architecture provides a multitude of features that can simplify embedded board design and reduce the time to market. If you are starting or have completed an embedded design utilizing an off-the-shelf processor board, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments 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 Embedded Starter Kits.

 

To view other community content on interoperability, see "Interoperability - Top Picks

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

 

Wind River Systems and ADLINK Technology are Associate members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

Computer-on-Module (COM) technology has become a welcome fixture to the embedded design community. These commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modules package all the components needed for a bootable host computer so that the designer can concentrate on the unique features of an embedded product that differentiate it from the competition.  COM methodology provides a faster time to market, reduced risk, and lower development cost along with better control over form, fit, and function. A plug-in computer module also allows embedded developers to keep pace with advances in processor architecture and interface technology without having to reengineer their products.

 

One of the more popular COM configurations for small form factor embedded designs is COM Express, an open industry standard defined by PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group). COM Express modules contain the CPU, memory, common peripherals like USB or SATA and I/O interfaces such as PCI Express or graphics.  Embedded device manufacturers then create a carrier board that contains the circuitry and connectors that are unique to each application. Since the CPU function is separate from the custom circuitry, the manufacturer can select different processors depending on the application requirements. Industry standard modules also provide developers with multiple vendors to insure uninterrupted availability.

 

As processor technologies evolve, COM Express module manufacturers are enticed to fit the required functions into smaller packaging.  For example, the new Intel® Atom™ E6xx architecture integrates the display, audio, and memory interfaces onto the CPU resulting in higher system bandwidth along with a reduced bill of materials (BOM) and board area. Responding to these new, integrated architectures, PICMG member companies have proposed updates to the COM Express specification to include revised connector pinouts and a new 84 mm x 55 mm “Ultra” form factor that is about the size of a typical credit card (See figure 1). PICMG implements new standard technologies with common connector pinouts so that designers can easily maintain compatibility with legacy circuitry or create new legacy-free products.

 

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Anticipating the new “Ultra” form factor, ADLINK Technology announced the nanoX-TC COM Express compatible module featuring the Intel® Atom™ Processor E6xx series at 600 MHz up to 1.6 GHz along with up to 2 GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM (See figure 2).  The module supports both 24-bit LVDS displays (with resolutions up to 1280 x 768 pixels) and SDVO displays (including DVI, TV out, and analog CRT) with resolutions up to 1280 x 1024. In addition, the module includes four PCI Express x1 lanes, two SATA ports, seven USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, and HD audio. The nanoX-TC operates at 0°C to +70°C with standard processors or -40°C to +85°C with extended-temperature CPUs. Power consumption is five watts maximum and three watts at idle, with support for S0 - S5 sleep modes.

 

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In addition to the integrated display, audio, and memory interfaces, the Intel® Atom™E6xx architecture provides a number of performance enhancements and features that enhance small form factor embedded designs. For example, 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. E6xx processors also incorporate the Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600 2D/3D graphics engine which delivers a 50 percent improvement in graphics performance compared to the predecessor.


Off-the-shelf modules with low power operation, built in video-processing, and scalability are key components in the development of small or portable embedded devices. The Intel® Atom™E6xx series architecture provides these features through a flexible I/O architecture that simplifies module design and shortens the time to market. If you are starting or have completed a small form factor COM Express 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 COM Express.

 

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

 

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

Digital video and high-resolution image analysis now occupies a large and growing portion of the embedded landscape and with each new application the CPU intensive signal processing burden escalates. Static and full motion electronic images of objects, people, vehicles, scenery, and documents are the raw materials for a wide range of digital image analysis applications such as machine vision, medical imaging, facial recognition, intelligent surveillance, robotics, and military radar analysis. In its most basic form, an imaging sensor captures snippets of spectral data and converts them into a digital representation useful to analysis software. However, the range of data is incredible: a linear bar code image only translates into a few bytes of information while a live, high-definition video image requires a continuous stream of data representing billions of pixels.

 

These image analysis applications bring a new level of complexity to embedded systems. High-performance, multicore processors along with real time, on-the-fly compression techniques are necessary to efficiently capture the high resolution images needed for analysis. To tackle these challenges, several board and systems manufacturers have recently announced new embedded video signal processing platforms based on the improved performance of 2nd-Generation Intel® Core™ processors. This new, long-life embedded architecture includes numerous graphics enhancements including an integral graphics processor for high definition hardware image decoding. The graphics section includes an array of parallel hardware execution units to accelerate encoding and decoding of high definition video.  The Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ processors also include a new 256-bit instruction set called Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), which is optimized for vector and scalar data sets such as those found in image and video signal processing applications. The graphics processor and CPU cores also feature Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, where clock frequencies can be increased for short periods to handle heavy workloads.

 

Mercury Computer Systems was an early adopter of this high performance architecture with their announcement of the Ensemble 6000 Series OpenVPX Intel® Core™ i7 Quad-Core Next Generation LDS6521 module (See figure 1). With high-end radar, electronic warfare, and image processing applications in mind, the LDS6521 combines the quadcore Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ i7 processor, an external FPGA for user-application functions, and high-bandwidth communication fabrics in a single 6U OpenVPX slot. The module is available in an air-cooled version or a conduction-cooled module that  complies with the Ruggedized Enhanced Design Implementation standard or VPX-REDI for harsh environment embedded applications.  Supporting multiple Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) applications, the LDS6521features Mercury’s POET (Protocol Offload Engine Technology) fabric interconnects for both Serial RapidIO and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. In addition to a wide range of built-in I/O ports, the module also provides two PMC/XMC mezzanine sites for additional I/O or control functions. Mercury’s MultiCore Plus (MCP) open software environment and MultiCore Scientific Algorithm Library (MCSAL) provides the LDS6521 with access to a variety of stacks, middleware, libraries, and software tools optimized for multicore processors.

 

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Curtiss Wright Controls Embedded Computing has also developed an OpenVPX digital signal processing board based on the enhanced performance of the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors. The CHAMP-AV8 6U delivers peak signal processing performance up to 269 GFLOPS by incorporating two of the quad-core Intel® Core™ i7-2715QE processors and the 256-bit AVX floating point instruction set (See figure 2).  The module also offers expanded performance and bandwidth advantages with the new PCI Express to Serial RapidIO protocol conversion technology from Integrated Device Technology. With an on-board XMC site, 8 GB of flash, and up to 16 GB of SDRAM, the CHAMP-AV8 fits applications with demanding storage, data logging, and sensor processing requirements. The module is also supported with a suite of software including Wind River’s VxWorks and the Linux operating systems. Additional software support includes Inter-Processor Communications (IPC) and Curtiss Wright Controls Continuum Vector AVX-optimized signal processing library.

 

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Along with reduced power, integrated graphics, and faster floating point performance, Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ processors deliver programmable media architecture plus hardware-based signal processing. These powerful graphics features provide the embedded platform designer new tools to match the requirements of next-generation image analysis applications.  If you think that Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ architecture fits your next image analysis project please feel free to exchange information and questions with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. Also, there is more to come as I cover the features and benefits of using the Intel® Atom™ E6xx processor architecture in digital signage applications.

 

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

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Warren Webb

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

 

Curtiss Wright Controls Embedded Computing is an Affiliate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Mercury Computer Systems is a General member of the Alliance. 

Remotely managed embedded devices such as point-of-sale terminals, intelligent kiosks, digital signage, medical appliances, and gaming platforms are growing in popularity and promise lower operating costs and simplified maintenance if implemented properly.  Many of these embedded systems must simultaneously interact with a user and drive local digital displays at high data rates while communicating with a remote server. As the number of units grows, these performance requirements will continue to rise as developers strive to outperform the competition and deliver a unique user experience. Along with escalating performance needs, most of these systems are usually deployed in remote locations away from a system operator thus creating security and remote management problems for the support team.

 

The performance and security requirements of multiple remote embedded devices are addressed with the latest 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family. This new architecture combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor plus dedicated fixed function hardware for high performance video processing. All of these remote applications depend on intensive floating point calculations to drive the needed high speed graphic displays.  Serving this need, the new Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instruction set is optimized for audio, image, and video processing and can potentially eliminate external hardware-based digital signal processing circuitry to reduce the component count and lower overall power requirements.  With signal processing algorithms programmed in AVX code, future updates can be made with a software modification. The CPU and graphics cores also support Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, allowing clock frequencies to scale up temporarily to handle intense workloads.

 

To take advantage of these performance gains, module manufacturers have already integrated 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture into a wide range of board level products designed to support remote embedded systems. For example, The ETXexpress®-SC module from Kontron combines a 2.1 GHz Intel® Core™ i7 processor and the Intel® Mobile QM67 chipset in the popular Computer-on-Module (COM) Express form factor featuring a quad-core processor, USB 3.0, and digital display interfaces. COM Express modules integrate processor, memory and popular I/O functionality into a small plug-in module to simplify the embedded development and upgrade process. Based on the COM Express™ Rev. 2.0 specification, the Kontron ETXexpress®-SC supports up to 16 GBytes of dual-channel DDR3 SODIMM RAM with ECC and offers several I/O options. The Type 6 Pin-out option features three digital display interfaces for SDVO, DisplayPort, and DVI/HDMI plus VGA and dual-channel LVDS. You can also upgrade two of the eight USB 2.0 ports to the SuperSpeed USB 3.0. The Type 2 Pin-out option delivers standard PCI and parallel ATA in addition to several display options. Both versions feature 4x Serial ATA ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and Intel® high-definition audio.

 

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core technology 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. 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.

 

Congatec has also announced a number of small form factor embedded boards based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core processor family. The conga-BM67 COM-Express module offers 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. 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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These COM Express products are a couple of examples where the performance improvements and energy efficiency of the 2nd generation Intel® Core technology provides the developers of remote embedded 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 remote security and device management. If you have a new project that might benefit from the latest 2nd generation Intel® Core processor family and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. Also, please check back as I present more information on the latest off-the-shelf embedded products based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family.

 

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

 

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

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