Simpler and Tougher Intel® AMT for Embedded Environments

 

Jackson He


 

 

I just got back from a business trip to China where I had several discussions with customers about extended usages of Intel® AMT in their business environments. With the success of Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT, they would like to extend the remote management and computing power to other non-PC application environments. My blog "[Intel® vPro Beyond Desktop/Laptop|p-10752]" talked about how Intel® vPro was used in an embedded video surveillance environment at railway stations in China. There are more evidences that users are looking for simpler and more affordable Intel® AMT in embedded environments.    

 

 

Besides video surveillance usage we described in the last blog, the China railway customers told us that there are many other applications in the railway that require remote management, even though may not be as much computing power offered by vPro. They need fully automated no-touch remote management in following areas, that are not typical office environments, but under some rather rigid condition (dust, temperature, RF interference, etc.):

 

  • Network monitoring

  • Power grid management

  • Railway intersection control

 

In all these cases, embedded control units are deployed at remote locations throughout hundreds and thousands of miles of railways, often at odd locations. A simple power recycle today may require sending people to the site. In many cases, that is all it takes to solve the problem. 

 

 

Similar to the railway operations, we also heard similar stories from airport operation to banks (ATM). For example, the flight information minitors at the newly built Beijing Airport for Olympics are controlled by computers. Since they do not have remote management, technicians have to climb up a ladder to reset the computer. They have to do it one at a time around the airport - it will be so much better, if they can do this remotely without climbing up and down!

 

 

All these customer requirements call out Intel® AMT-like remote management features in embedded system. Since embedded systems have different characteristics than that of desktop PC and laptop, it requires different perspectives of remote management features:

 

  • Low cost: embedded platforms we talked about above are typically low-cost devices. Remote management component on the chipset has to be low cost as a portion of the overall platform cost.

  • Simplified features: In an embedded platform, remote management does not need full featured Intel® AMT. It requires a subset of simplified out-of-band features, such as power on/off, hardware health monitoring, etc.

  • Ubiquitous presence: Intel® AMT-like (Intel® AMT Lite?) features should presence at all IA-based embedded platforms, so that central management solutions of distributed systems could be deployed uniformly.

  • Standard interfaces: Standard interfaces like WS-MAN is essential for ease of integration with central management console. It is critical for ISV and heterogeneous platform integration, as embedded platforms have different form factors.

  • Resistance to environmental interferences: Embedded systems are typically not installed in office environment. They often locate outdoor that operate at rough conditions - temperature, dust, and RF interferences, etc.

 

As we can see that remote management is not a requirement for PC or laptop. It has broader use in embedded systems as well. We need to look at this from different perspectives and look into how to build low-cost, simplified, and tougher Intel® AMT Lite into embedded platforms. This is an opportunity to build the next billion manageable connected devices - it could be as big as Intel® AMT in desktops and laptops. I think this is real and tangible. What do you think?