SAN JOSE, Calif. – Trying to stake a deeper claim in the embedded space, Intel has rolled out a framework for management and security middleware at its annual Intel Developer Forum here. The software uses a mixture of Intel’s PC management software with code from its acquisitions of McAfee and Wind River.
The x86 giant announced the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework, a broad technical specification for embedded systems covering everything from network appliances to gateways and end devices such as security cameras. It also released software reference designs that implement new platforms based on the spec from its McAfee and Wind River subsidiaries.
The spec requires use of an Intel processor and Ethernet controller as well as Wind River’s Linux and McAfee’s Embedded Control technology. Other pieces of the architecture include Intel’s PC virtualization, trusted execution and management software and McAfee’s Deep Command and ePolicy Orchestrator.
The software does not replace existing communications transports such as IPv6 or Zigbee. Rather, it seeks to create a new layer of middleware above them. “Our first goal is to drive interoperability in connectivity, security and manageability,” said Ton Steenman, general manager of Intel’s Intelligent Systems Group which claims sales of more than $2 billion x86 products into embedded systems growing at a compound rate of faster than 20 percent.
“Our customers are struggling with embedded systems because none of them talk to each other--managability is inconsistent and cannot be handled from one console, security is spotty at best and comms in general is very proprietary,” Steenman said.
The initiative essentially opens up a new front against embedded processor companies such as ARM, increasingly Intel's closest rival. With the framework, Intel is driving hooks to its processors deeper into embedded software at a time when ARM is encroaching on Intel's server and notebook franchises.
Intel's embedded reference designs for the new framework will span its Atom, Core and Xeon lines including support for its Ethernet and Wi-Fi chip sets. The news comes the same week Wind River announced its Intelligent Device Platform, a Linux development environment for machine-to-machine applications, expected to conform to the new framework.
Intel wants to extend its framework to embrace a set of applications programming interfaces. “Today every [embedded] device has a very proprietary implementation of how data is formatted,” said Steenman, noting Intel’s work with a variety of existing industry groups on such APIs.
The new framework can work with Wind River Linux or Microsoft’s embedded operating systems. Intel aims to work with other embedded OSes in the future. “We have a key relationship with Green Hills and we will extend this capability out to them as well,” Steenman said.
Green Hills declined to comment on the Intel move. Advantech, Kontron and Portwell are shipping framework-compliant products now. Avnet, Axeda, Digi International and WebHouse expect to ship compliant products in a few months, Intel said.
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