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Designing customised intelligent IoT gateway

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Things? IoT? customisation? IP? connectivity?

There are clear desires to converge proprietary applications alongside open source Linux-based applications for both performance reasons and for intellectual property protection. In some cases, companies are leveraging the heterogeneous cores for power management. One example of this is the TI AM572x, where the power-hungry Cortex A15 cores are put to sleep until they are needed, while the M4 cores perform all of the necessary functions.

Such complex designs also require a tooling solution that enables developers to design, develop, and debug heterogeneous architectures from an overall system perspective. Platforms such as the Mentor Graphics Multicore Framework and heterogeneous solutions are designed specifically to address these system design complexities as shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: Heterogeneous SoCs and heterogeneous OS solutions enable powerful and customised "secure converged" gateway solutions. (Source: Mentor Graphics)

One final factor driving the need for gateway customisation
Aside from the factors already mentioned, one final C and extremely important factor C is cost reduction. When a customer purchases an off-the-shelf gateway, costs will be incurred from a couple perspectives. First, there is a high likelihood that a significant portion of the hardware in the gateway will go unused. Thus, the customer is paying for unnecessary hardware, which can add up when volumes are considered. Additionally, if the needed functionality is not present, more hardware will have to be purchased and integrated at a later time (e.g., adapter for 802.15.4 mesh connectivity) increasing cost and adding new layers to the system.

Today, businesses could design and build a gateway on their own, or approach a contract manufacturer. The time and cost of defining requirements, vetting the design, obtaining initial samples, testing and validating functionality, and iterating through the redesign-test-validation cycle multiple times can consume quarters, if not years of time. And one must also consider the cost and complexity related to the operating system(s) tools, security, connectivity, power management, graphics, booting mechanism, Inter-Processor Communications (IPC), and the list goes on.

As businesses endeavor on their IoT 2.0 paths, they have increasingly complex requirements to consider, but they also have options with trade-offs. There are three general paths for businesses to evolve their IoT gateway strategies:
???Continue to integrate and leverage off-the-shelf hardware/software solutions
???Leverage off-the-shelf hardware, and invest in the customised gateway software
???Customise the hardware and the software

In each case, a business must consider the following questions:
???What is the cost of the hardware? Am I paying for hardware I don't need?
???What are my options if I need customised hardware support?
???Do I have the ability to customise the software, to make optimal usage of my hardware in both the short-term and long-term?

We are entering the era of the customised intelligent IoT gateway. As companies seek to improve their business results and differentiate themselves from the competition, customised solutions are clearly required. These solutions must take into account brownfield installations, comprehensive connectivity, end-to-end security, and specific requirements as intelligence and processing are being pushed from the cloud towards the edge. Clearly, the IoT supply chain is moving in this direction. Now there are solutions are designed to address customisation needs for emerging intelligent IoT gateways.

About the author
Warren Kurisu is the Director of Product Management in the Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division, overseeing the embedded runtime platform business for the Nucleus RTOS, Mentor Embedded Linux, virtualisation and multi-core technologies, safety certified runtimes, graphics and development tools. Warren has spent nearly 30 years in the embedded industry, both as an embedded developer and as a business executive, working broadly in industries including aerospace, networking, industrial, medical, automotive, and consumer.

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