Use Your Imagination: Intel® vPro Technology Beyond Desktop/Laptop

So far, we have talked so much about Intel® vPro, Intel® cPro, and Intel® AMT deployment and usages. Are you ready for something different? I am going to raise your attention to something that is outside the normal uses of Intel® vPro and Intel® cPro.

During the Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT POC we did with customers, we came across an end user who wanted to leverage the computing power of Intel® Core 2 Due and Intel® AMT remote management capabilities in an environment that does not require human interaction with the system - such a "headless" platform does not require the typical PC or laptop configurations with monitor, keyboard, and mouse, but rather require requires more compact form factor and more resilient to harsh environment (temperature, dust, and radiation disturbance, etc.) This clearly calls out usages of Intel® vPro Technology beyond the typical desktop and laptop platform.

This type of new usages opens a new perspective of Embedded Intel Architecture (EIA) applications. Our experience with end users shown that the same concept of Intel® AMT management is very appealing for customers with needs to deploy client solutions at remote locations with little human intervention, such as remote railway stations, network management nodes, weather observation stations, etc. In this type of situation, an embedded system is typically deployed at a remote location with little local IT expertise on site. There is little needs for interaction user interfaces in this type of situation and the system is dedicated for data processing. Intel® AMT is proven to be extremely useful as IT engineers could manage these remote embedded systems remotely regardless the system state. They can remotely power on/off the system, monitoring the system status, update software/patches as needed, and track system inventory without taking the time and effort to travel to the remote site - the same Intel® AMT benefit we are familiar with for the desktop/laptop usages. In addition, the computing power of Intel® Core 2 Due processor offers unparallel capability and flexibility for the embedded system to perform different types of computation tasks, which allows the customers to innovate and develop solutions that best meet their business needs.

In the following sections, I am going to tell a real story how EIA platform based on Intel® vPro Technology used in a video surveillance system in China railway systems.

First of all, here are some facts about China railway systems:

China has one of the largest railway networks in the world that covers a vast area of the country. It is about 80,000 KM today and will reach 120,000 KM and 5,000 railway stations by 2015. At the same time building out the railway infrastructure, China Ministry of Railway (MOR) is in the process of modernize the information system infrastructure and use technology to remotely operate/manage services along the railway and handle emergency situations effectively.

China Railway Network

The proof of concept (POC) project using EIA with vPro Technology was focused on developing digital security surveillance (DSS) solution with intelligent video recognition front-end. Such a solution could be deployed to remote railway stations and along railway to monitor all kind of operation issues and alter the railway operators to take appropriate actions to response emergency situations.


DSS POC Architecture

The figure above is a conceptual diagram of such of the POC. In this context, an EIA system with Intel® vPro Technology is used as the front-end video aggregation node for video recognition and video compression. As the video recognition requirements could be differ depending on the location of a camera, time of the day, and functionality assigned to the camera, it requires the front-end node to be capable of running different video recognition algorithm and power enough to multiple process the video streams and real-time. The computing power of Intel® Core 2 Due processor is suitable for this context. In the test we had one EIA front-end node handle 6 concurrent video feeds at 25-frames/second without any performance problems.

In addition, the location of these front-end nodes could be at remote and hard to reach places in a railway station or along the railway lines. Managing these systems and making sure software is up to date are critical. This is where Intel® AMT comes to play. With Intel® AMT remote management technology, these front-end could be remotely monitored, power cycled, patched, and tracked for inventory management purposes from a central location by IT engineers.

This POC system was piloted at Beijing Railway Station. The customers were very impressed with the power and flexibility offered by the intelligent video recognition capability, so that they do not have to have a person to watch the video monitors 24x7. They were also impressed with the remote management capabilities provided by Intel® AMT, which make it possible for such a solution to be deployed and managed in the railway environment.

This POC is a clear example that Intel® vPro Technology is not limited for desktop and laptop usages. There are more than exciting new usages to be explored to uncover the potentials of Intel® vPro Technology. I hope to learn more about your thoughts of innovative usages that can benefit in your business.