The company wants to unlock data hidden in legacy industrial systems by linking them to the cloud
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich launched a family of new products designed to connect ‘things’ to the Internet at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China on Wednesday.
The so-called ‘gateway solutions’ based on the Quark System-on-a-Chip and Atom processors are essentially tiny embedded computers that offer a variety of connectivity options and are secured by Intel’s own software. They are primarily aimed at manufacturing, transport, retail and energy industries.
“Our intention is to continue to produce these fundamental building blocks for the Internet of Things, so that the rest of the ecosystem can innovate much faster, and focus their investments on the areas of their respective value-add,” explained Kumar Balasubramanian, GM of Intelligent Solutions Division at Intel.
The processors and software are available immediately, while complete systems optimised for different market segments and manufactured by industrial partners like Advantech and Portwell are expected in the next few months.
Recently launched low-power Quark X1000 and Atom chips are at the centre of the new gateway solutions designed to harvest valuable data from previously unconnected legacy systems.
These solutions integrate security and management software developed by Intel’s subsidiaries, like the Intelligent Device Platform XT from WindRiver and Embedded Control from McAfee. The company also enables software developers to create their own apps and services to run on the new hardware.
Unlike some of its competitors who go after select market segments, Intel aims to offer end-to-end services for the Internet of Things, something it already talked about in November. These will include the ‘things’ themselves, gateways to connect them, networks over which the information will travel, and the cloud where it will be stored and analysed.
Achieving this wouldn’t be possible without the advances in processor manufacturing – the company’s area of expertise. “Performance has been going up rapidly, power envelope has been offered at different ranges for different uses, and people are able to afford chips at different prices – the compute economics is helping [IoT] in a big way,” said Balasubramanian.
He added that the development of networked devices should go hand in hand with evolution of Big Data applications – something that Intel is already working on.
The company believes that IoT is entering something it calls a ‘virtuous cycle’. It starts with new services which improve things like cost efficiency or productivity. These eventually translate into new devices that need to be connected to the Internet. As more devices get connected, they will produce more data. And as businesses capture more data, it leads to innovation in analytics and results in new services, which require more networked devices.
This spiral continues indefinitely, and could lead to 50 billion devices being connected to the Internet by 2020 – a figure which has been estimated by IDC, Cisco and Ericsson.
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