Embedded computing — 15mn devices not so far away!


It has been close to three weeks since the Intel IDF @ Taipei, Taiwan. However, way too many things happened there, which still deserve a mention. One such event would be the keynote on embedded Internet by Doug Davis, Intel’s Vice President, Digital Enterprise Group and General Manager, Embedded and Communications Group.

Today, there are 5 billion connected devices, and this number should likely go up to 15 billion by 2015, as per IDC. However, technology barriers need to be overcome. Davis cited these challenges as reliability and long life, software scalability, low power and low cost, privacy and data security, IPv4 addressing and open standards. As of now, the Intel architecture (IA) is said to be (due to lack of any good competition) the preferred architecture for the embedded Internet.

While on embedded products, post the Intel Atom processor, Davis said that the Menlow XL is likely for a Q1-09 introduction. The associated market segments include retail, PoS, digital signage, kiosks, vending, ATM, etc.

On digital PoS for retail markets, Davis highlighted India, and rightly so, adding that digital retail PoS would find applications, given the growing and quite affluent Indian middle class. Such a digital PoS device could improve inventory management and transaction security, allow more efficient space utilization, etc. Yet another application is digital signage for business intelligence [as informative displays].

Davis showed all of us MediaCart’s example. MediaCart is providing a unique shopping experience. It is trying to revolutionize the shopping experience with a computerized shopping cart that assists shoppers, delivers targeted communications at the point of purchase, and streamlines store operations. Incidentally, Singapore’s Venture GES was contracted by MediaCart to develop the new shopping experience cart.

Pervasive embedded computing
Davis believes that embedded computing would become more pervasive in the days ahead. “The Intel architecture has all of the unparalleled scalability to meet these needs,” he added.

Davis estimated that China could go on to become the world’s largest semiconductor market over the next five years or so. Semiconductor TAM for industrial automation is likely to grow from $13.5 billion in 2008 to $17.5 billion in 2012. India is said to be the second largest destination for industrial automation, which is interesting, and something to look forward to.

Digital factory
We have all had some visions, sometimes of how a digital factory would look like? And, who would be working at such a factory. Possibly, robots, or industrial robots would make up the attendance!

Well, if KUKA, a company that builds the world’s leading robotic and automation devices is to be believed, we are a little closer than before to this vision or dream. Bruno Geiger, managing director, Asia Pacific, KUKA, pointed out in his chat with Davis that the company makes robotic and automation devices based on Intel’s platorms. That, ‘takes us closer to the vision of a digital factory!’ This is a great example of multi-core in industrial automation.

Portal for embedded designers
Getting back to the embedded Internet, Davis said that the greatest challenge for customers is to integrate new technologies. To address this need, Intel is investing in a new Web portal for embedded designers. He announced that the Intel Architecture Embedded Design Center, a Web portal for embedded designers, will likely get launched in the spring of 2009. This is indeed something to look forward to!

Asia has all the trappings to become the largest market for embedded computing, and Taiwan, the largest market for automation. Well, don’t count India out! Embedded systems and software is India’s strength, and don’t be surprised to see and hear about lots of such activities from the country.

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