Compute-Intensive Systems Satisfy Yesterday’s and Tomorrow’s Needs

By John Blyler - Editorial Director

The low cost and functionally rich appeal of embedded systems have spurred growth into an ever-widening range of markets. Many of the major markets are covered in this issue including medical, home entertainment, digital signage, retail Kiosk, and facial/demographic recognition. All of these applications require intensive data manipulation and the computation of video streams and encryption algorithms. This means that solutions must be low in price with low power consumption while providing high compute-capable processors or systems-on-a-chip (SoCs).

But smaller and more powerful chips alone cannot meet the needs of embedded designers. Other technologies must be brought to bear, such as multicore and virtualization, which allow existing hardware and software to be retrofitted to improve processing platforms. One example is legacy backplanes like VME and form-factor boards like PC-104.”We are starting to see several of the Intel® Embedded & Communications Alliance (ECA) members come out with smaller form-factor boards such as COM Express, EPIC, and even smaller versions of very mature form factors like PC-104, notes Troy Smith,Intel’s ECA Director. “Historically, though, many of these form factors haven’t had a strong Intel® architecture (IA) solution - until now.” (See interview in this issue.)

Several interviews with key Intel spokesmen from the software and hardware side of the embedded equation help round out the coverage of these important topics. Together, the articles in this issue show that today--more than ever--embedded designers need to embrace new methods to both maintain legacy systems and grow into future platforms.