Leveraging Intel Architecture Strengths
Executives participating in our round table tell us how their companies and the wider ecosystem are responding to such challenges as the need to use as little power as possible, analyze at the IoT’s edge, interoperate, and give vertical market OEMs focused solutions.
Embedded Intel Solutions invited executives at a number of companies who work with embedded systems and with Intel solutions that are part of those systems to update our readers on how their firms are protecting customer investments while at the same time bringing those customers solutions to address new challenges. We also asked them to share news of recently introduced products or services and to offer insights on how the ecosystem of solutions built on Intel architecture will look going forward. Following are edited excerpts from the e-mailed responses.
“The Beauty of Standards”
Dan Demers, director of marketing for the Americas at congatec, which has its roots in Computer-on-Module (COM) technology, believes standards are key to allowing designers to build upon their existing knowledge so that “each new design for the designer might mean learning a few new tricks, but it is rarely, if ever, a whole new learning curve.” He says, “The real beauty of these standards is that they follow the product strategies, road maps, and design methods brought to the market by Intel. As Intel® creates or updates products, the COM standards adapt as needed.”
Tim Lewis, CTO of Insyde Software, tells us that Insyde participates in key standards groups related to firmware and he also emphasizes the key role standards play when it comes to future proofing investments. “Well-written standards like [Unified Extensible Firmware Interface] UEFI and [Advanced Configuration and Power Interface] ACPI protect the investments made by our customers in their value-add technologies by allowing re-use across multiple generations of multiple platforms.”
Andrew Foster, product marketing manager at PrismTech, also points to the value of open standards, offering as an example his Vortex Intelligent Data Sharing Platform, which is based on the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Data Distribution Service (DDS) for Real-time Systems standard. “An open system architecture that embraces standards helps protect users from proprietary vendor lock-in, increases software and hardware re-use and enables the goal of interoperability between applications, “ Foster believes.
The Power to Lower PowerKanti Bhabuthmal, Supermicro’s director of product marketing, responding to our request to tell readers about recently introduced solutions, says that his company has announced “a wide range of higher density, small form factor designs well suited for embedded markets with SoC processors that have leapfrogged in performance with higher core count, larger caches and integrated networking.” Bhabuthmal draws the connection between these features and the benefits of lowering both component count and power consumption.
Understandably, reducing power consumption is a topic more than one of the executives responding to EECatalog cite. For example, Nigel Forrester, technical marketing manager, Concurrent Technologies, says a recent launch from his company, the FR 341/x06 3U VPX fabric switch board, can enable a throughput of 3.9GB/s between payloads, almost double the 2GB/s throughput for the previous FR 331/x06 switch. In addition to throughput improvement, FR 341/x06 supports ExpressFabric technology that enables multiple hosts to reside on a single PCIe domain using standard enumeration that is configured using a very low power Intel® Quark™ processor.”
And also bringing up the demand for low power solutions, congatec’s Demers notes that his company has been involved in the PICMG committee that is defining a new standard that addresses Intel’s latest efforts in low-power server technology.
“This new standard will broaden the space for Computer-on-Modules and open new markets for the current Computer-on-Module providers. In turn this will allow designers to address customer demand in spaces they previously could not entertain,” explains Demers. And he adds that we should expect crossover with this new Intel technology and the associated COM standard and products into markets not previously addressed by such a high-end compute solution.” The result, Demers is confident, will “revolutionize where designers are capable of placing higher end compute solutions.”
Min-Jie Chong, who is solutions manager for Keysight Technologies’ Communications Solutions Group, wants designers to become capable of deciding “whether it is worth the time and effort to improve the crosstalk effect, and where in the board to improve.” Toward this effort, Keysight is tackling the increased crosstalk caused by, Chong says, “the combination of higher bit rates and tightly spaced parallel data lanes.”
He explains that Keysight has developed a crosstalk analysis application to detect and quantifiy the presence of crosstalk. It can also determine which aggressors are primarily responsible and remove the crosstalk from the victim, so designers can visually compare the original waveform with the clean waveform side by side.
Designers also want to make informed decisions about maintenance. Helping them do so is one aim of PMQi, an integrated hardware and software solution, according to Foster. Recently announced by PrismTech along with ADLINK and IBM, PMQi provides Edge analytics and predictive maintenance for next generation Industrial IoT systems, says Foster. One of Its four elements, the PMQi Cognitive Gateway, is based on ADLINK’s MATRIX-MXE200 (Intel Atom™) platform, while another, the PMQi Industrial Appliance, based on ADLINK’s Seto-1000 platform (with dual Intel Xeon® processors) hosts a third component, the IBM PMQ platform. PrismTech’s Vortex Data Sharing Platform, noted above, is the fourth element.
Lewis, Insyde Software, finds that the “good ingredients for embedded designs” are out there, but “each has its own front end or file format or terminology.” He describes the role of Insyde Software like this: “We’re making tools that ask the embedded designers, ‘What are you trying to do?’ and ‘What components and OS are you doing it with?’ and produce a polished package of firmware, OS and apps. Then our dev tools get you the final mile by presenting the settings to you (whichever ingredient they came from) rather than making you go find them.”
What more and more OEMs want to find, believes congatec’s Demers, is “IoT solutions that are more highly integrated with a focus on total cost of ownership.” He adds, “Organizations continue to demand more from Intel and its ecosystem of platform providers, and OEMs are going to seek support from companies with solutions for the markets in which the OEMs play.” Demers gives the example of congatec Embedded Design & Manufacturing Services, which has led to “co-development of a number of vertical market solutions with our customers.” He says one solution is a collaboration with MyOmega System Technologies and its MYNXP IoT gateway product, which is being adopted into Smart Agriculture applications.
“Higher performance and greater power savings in mobile platform architecture are going to be the most noticeable strengths we will observe from Intel,” predicts Chong, Keysight. He sees Keysight supporting those strengths with “the most accurate measurements and comprehensive solutions that Intel needs to make technology breakthroughs.” One of the cutting edge technologies that Chong notes Keysight has invested in is its proprietary Indium Phosphide transistor process.
Supermicro, says Bhabuthmal, plans to continue working closely with technology partners to bring rapid innovation and new product offerings into the server and embedded markets. “We provide a full range of products from low power, higher-core SoCs to multi-processor high-performance CPUs to high-speed 10G LAN networking and high-performance SSD/NVMe storage.”
Forrester, Concurrent Technologies, expects to see “more instances of multiple Intel processor based boards being used in signal processing applications.” He sees Intel-based boards expanding from a role in management, storage and display to one which includes as well “reasonable number crunching capability.” Forrester adds, “This has become more significant as Intel has increased its GPU capabilities. With the acquisition of Altera, there is an opportunity for combined CPU and FPGA devices, which will further augment processing ability. Concurrent Technologies is poised to leverage these devices as they become available to deliver products suitable for rugged deployments based on OpenVPX standards.”