Leading analysts are predicting the Internet of Things (IoT) to be the ‘next big thing’. And, indeed, the forecasts are impressive: They foresee that the number of IoT appliances will explode to around 26 billion units in 2020. And all these new installations will require smart embedded SoCs. congatec pre-integrates the Intel Atom (code name Bay Trail) processor on a broad spectrum of embedded form factors, helping to accelerate the design of all these new appliances.

IoT appliances will be ubiquitous. What though makes previously ‘dumb’ devices IoT ready? They need built-in processor intelligence that is freely programmable and connected. Furthermore, they need to support remote management functionalities as well as autonomous collection, monitoring, and provisioning of data features which help OEMs and operators to increase both the productivity and efficiency of their applications.

Additionally, with all the data generated and distributed by decentralized IoT appliances, Ethernet powered smart storage devices can enable the corresponding distributed cloud storage infrastructure to achieve highest flexibility in terms of management while improving I/O performance, data recovery time, and cost per gigabyte of cloud storage.

Figure 1: congatec certified Intel Gateway Solution IoT with Intel Atom Processor

The requirements of IoT appliances

A key enabler for all these new decentralized IoT appliances is the right processor technology platform to lend the devices intelligence and connectivity. To achieve lowest R&D costs, the platform should be standardized and should also deliver all the required interfaces in the form of standard building blocks. Furthermore, it is imperative that these standard platforms can be freely programmed. In order to be able to execute smaller as well as more complex tasks it should also be scalable to embrace outstanding computing performance and increased graphics capabilities while at the same time offering high energy and cost efficiency. As time to market will be an increasingly important competitive factor, developers are looking for simplified development. They should, therefore, stick to a technology that offers simple programmability based on common standards as well as a rich ecosystem of peripherals and tool chains.

Qualified Intel Gateway Solution IoT embedded computers

congatec has paired its embedded computers with the validated software package from Intel, Wind River and McAfee to provide new services based on the connection of devices with each other and the cloud. The bundle includes McAfee® Embedded Control which, among other things, includes dynamic whitelisting to prevent the execution of unapproved code while at the same time allowing policy-based updates.

The combination of reliable hardware and a consistent software package, starting with the firmware and operating system, forms a "root of trust" for IoT applications. By bundling a baseboard that incorporates a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, congatec helps ensure that applications can be operated with maximum data security.

The combination of an Intel® Atom™ processor, pre-validated software and congatec hardware makes it possible to equip new connected applications in transportation, building automation, energy and medical segments with a minimum effort with added data security.

The 70 mm x 70 mm Qseven conga-QA3 module from congatec using processors from the Intel® Atom™ E3800 product family, bundled with a connectivity baseboard, together provide an ultra-compact hardware kit for gateways. Use of these Intel Atom processors yields a very economical and extremely powerful embedded PC. The integrated Gen 7 Intel® Graphics Technology sets new standards for graphics-intensive applications in the low-power segment. The compact baseboard design, plus the numerous interfaces and functions, allow rapid and inexpensive implementation of powerful, yet passively cooled embedded systems such as Box PCs as well as customized solutions.

Figure 2: congatec Qseven conga-QA3 Computer-On-Module based on Intel Atom Processor, with baseboard

The right boards for IoT appliances

The combination of the conga-QA3 with the validated solution stack of the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT provides a pre-integrated and open platform to bring secure IoT solutions to market quickly. It is, however, not just a question of the right embedded processor technology. This on its own does not suffice to enable OEMs to expertly innovate IoT appliances. More than anything, they require suitable embedded computing platforms on which to base their applications. To simplify the design, optimize the time to market and keep R&D efforts as low as possible, OEMs should rely on tested and proven standards. This approach is also the best guarantee for maximum design security, reliability and it enables a high level of re-use.