Intel beefs up industrial edge brawn with new Core and Atom chips

Intel announced new processors for use in industrial edge computing to allow machine vision, AI and other capabilities for use on the factory floor. (Getty Images)

Intel announced on Wednesday new silicon to boost its hand in the edge chip market where it already boasts 15,000 global customer deployments, including smart factory operations.

At the Intel Industrial Summit 2020, company officials described two new product families: 11th generation Intel Core processors and Intel Atom x6000E series processors, as well as Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron N and J series processors.  While their focus is primarily for industrial and manufacturing uses, the range of applications could vary from medical to mobile, officials said.

The chip giant said its IoT-enhanced processors will increase performance, security and artificial intelligence capabilities.  The market is expected to become even more competitive in coming years, not the least because of Nvidia’s planned purchase of Arm.

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Intel estimates about 70% of all enterprises will process data at the edge in the next three years in a total market for edge chips of $65 billion in 2024.  John Healy, vice president of the Internet of Things group at Intel, called the new processors the company’s “most significant” advancement for IoT.

“We’re super excited with the level of momentum and interest” from customers and partners, he told reporters in a briefing. About 200 partners are actively engaged in new designs using the new chips, with 100 systems integrators, who are building apps for industrial uses.

siemens industrial pc

Intel Atom x6000E series processors are used by Siemens in two high performance, ruggedized industrial PCs to help businesses consolidate workloads such as apps that run programmable logic controllers and analytics right on the shop floor. Such a solution can be used to add graphics for machine vision or a human-machine interface while also taking advantage of 5G connectivity.

ECO Group, an Italian developer of embedded microcomputers,  is also using two Atom x6000E series processors to build a smart mobility architecture module that provides power, DRAM and compute for functional safety technology.

Congatec AG, a German maker of high performance embedded products, has developed with the 11th Gen Intel Core a high performance computer-on-module called the COM-HPC that is designed to provide accelerated AI inference with Intel Iris X Graphics.  With up to four CPU scores and 96 graphics execution units, the 11th Gen Core processors can support edge AI without the need for added accelerator cards, according to a product sheet.

Healy said Audi has also used Intel chips to create a weld inspection capability with AI inference and real-time support for determining the density and quality of its welds.  Audi’s chip stack runs on existing Intel products and will be enhanced with the new stage of chips announced Wednesday, he added.

The 11th Gen Core “Tiger Lake” processor is built on a 10 nm process and provides a 23% improvement in single thread performance over 8th Gen Intel Core processors, as well as almost a tripling in graphics performance, Intel said.  It is designed to consolidate multiple workloads onto a single CPU, converging edge apps that normally require multiple CPUs, GPUs and accelerators such as synchronous control systems, vision systems with AI capabilities, and interactive white boards and digital signs. It operates with two or four core options with 12 watt to 28 watt power demands.

The new Atom, Pentium and Celeron processors offer dual or quad core options with power ranges from 4.5 watts to 12 watts.  Up to 32 execution unit cores can double as deep learning inference or computer vision engines. They provide up to 1.7 times the single threat performance over the prior generation and two times the graphics performance.

“There’s really no limit to what the market can do with these [chip] assets,” Healy said, predicting pollenation from one market to the next, such as automation in industrial impacting automation in retail.

RELATED: Intel unveils array of chip research focused on edge data processing

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