Connectivity chips

Flexibility key to Intel’s IoT upgrade

Intel has long promised to knit its diverse IoT (internet of things) offerings together, from silicon to software. It is taking a step towards that with the upgrade to its IoT platform, which brings technologies from a range of developments and acquisitions closer together.

Setting out the next phase of the chip giant’s IoT vision, was well aware that it is critical for Intel to push its architecture into every link in the chain, from big data servers to the billions of endpoints. This is the most important future replacement for the declining PC and the failed handset activity, and the latest chance to underpin very consumer device.

In the IoT, that requires more than just silicon – to hit targets of size, price and power consumption, full integration with software, security and connectivity will be essential, and ARM is chasing down that route, worryingly for Intel, with mBED OS, TrustZone and other developments.

Intel must go a step further, and for Krzanich that means going beyond integration and supporting endless flexibility. Solution providers must meet customer demands for experimentation, he said, and that means any platform must support a wide range of mix-and-match functions – otherwise the large companies will lose the most valuable position in the chain to the start-ups. “People are starting to create this data world even without the integration of a big company,” Kzranich said.

Connectivity must be standard and tools open source, but applications infinite, added Doug Fisher, VP of Intel’s software and services unit. He introduced an upgraded IoT reference architecture which can connect a wider variety of devices, from security cameras to cash registers. Some of these may be connected, but not to the cloud and the APIs which can enable a new range of functionality.

Intel is also extending the Quark family of ultra-low power processors, which target wearables, smart devices and IoT gateways. In particular, it has added advanced pattern-matching capabilities so device makers can allow motions and vibrations to be detected and translated into automated decision-making.

One of the most important acquisitions Intel has ever made, Wind River, underpins this on the cloud software wide and the firm has further evolved its Helix software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite for IoT, and added two cloud-connected operating systems, Wind River Rocket and Wind River Pulsar Linux, to ease development of IoT-based solutions. Rocket is a real time OS for applications running on 32-bit microcontrollers, such as wearables, while Pulsar is a stripped-down binary Linux OS which is aimed at gateways or industrial controllers. Both OSs are free and support ARM as well as Intel processors.

Developers can write and test cloud-based apps to simulate hardware environments d can, Intel claims, produce a new app within 10 minutes.

Enterprise software giant SAP is the first to sign up publicly for these platforms and will use them to pilot IoT apps for retail and other enterprise sectors, while Intel also announced developer partnerships with Advantech, Autodesk, Avnet, Cypress, Freescale, HP Enterprise, Kontron, Microsoft, Oracle, PTC/Thingworx, Salesforce, Texas Instruments and Xilinx.

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