Intel has announced a new range of processors designed for IoT applications, the Atom E3900 series, that represent a significant increase in performance and functionality over its current E3800 products.
At launch almost 30 Intel customers have Atom E3900 products ready to ship and a further 50 are taking part in the early access program.
Ken Caviasca, general manager of Intel’s IoT platform engineering team, said the new processors had been designed for use in multiple parts of the IoT ecosystem.
“The E3900 is designed to go into the ‘things’: it can go into a vehicle, into a software defined cockpit. It can go into a digital surveillance smart camera or into a robotic arm. It can also be aggregating edge information from less intelligent sensors in the fog area or aggregating other information and analytics and communicating back to the fog.”
However, he said it was not intended for applications in the cloud. “It does not have the necessary range of compute performance. It has between 20,000and 40,000 dmips so it is a good high performance processor, but it is by no means a multicore server processor.’
He described the Atom E3900 as a new type of IoT processor that brought real time computing capabilities to a much higher performing processor than any currently on the market.
High level real-time performance
“Many of the real time computing workloads are dedicated to very low level processors and you need multiple ones to build a solution. The E3900 enables people to aggregate things and be more flexible on common platform and reduce the bill of materials.”
Caviasca said the Atom E3900 series had been designed from the ground up for IoT. “We started out with a couple of tenets based on customer challenges that we knew about from being in the market. The first is that people are trying to integrate and converge operational technology and information technology systems.
“For example you have vehicle with its own operational system and you want to connect it back to an IT infrastructure and get mapping data out of the cloud, or places to shop. Or you might have a system in a factory communicating to an order and shipping system, which is an IT system.
“That convergence has started and the lines are blurring. People like the cost effectiveness and the scalability of IT and they are trying to see how far they can push that into OT. But when you do that you run into some problems: the latency and the security and trust model are absolutely critical in the OT space.”
He said that, with the E3900, Intel had sought to meet this demand in three verticals: automotive, industrial and video capability.
Video capabilities have been boosted significantly from the E3800. Caviasca said Intel’s customers had been asking for a processor able to see and detect objects and take action. “We are focussed on intelligent cameras with analytics built into the camera. Industrial inspection cameras will be a great opportunity.”
He said the E3900 was able to supply three simultaneous displays each at 4K resolutions, and could support an entire video surveillance system. “We can take 15 streams of 1080p at 30 frames per second into a single E3900, decode all those images, display them on a video wall, and record them.”
Time co-ordinated computing
Another key feature, absent from the E3800, that Caviasca said would give Intel access to a greatly expanded market for the E3900 is its ability to keep systems comprised of multiple devices synchronised with microsecond accuracy.
For example if a robotic arm has to perform operations on an object moving past it on a conveyor belt, the systems controlling the arm and the belt must be very tightly synchronised.
“Intel Time Co-ordinated Computing allows that to happen by making the IO fabric time aware, Caviasca said. “That opens up the market for the E3900 that the E3800 could not access.”
Also, Caviasca said, the 3900 had been designed for the most challenging environments. The initial versions have an operating range of -40 to +85 degrees Celsius. Other versions to be introduced in 2017 will operate at temperatures up to 110 degrees Celsius.