Chip News: Intel Unveils New Processors; ARM Announces Bolstered Security

Intel says its E3900 is well suited for demanding industrial IoT applications, as well as for high-quality image processing needs at the edge of networks. ARM reports an expansion to its TrustZone technology to low-power IoT chips.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 26, 2016

Intel's E3900 Series SoCs Aimed at Industrial, Computing-Intensive Applications
Yesterday, chipmaker Intel announced a new series of Atom processors called the E3900 series, which offer up to 1.7 times the computing power and up to 2.9 times better 3D graphics performance than its previous Atom series (E3800), which was released during the fourth quarter of 2013. The E3900 chips can also manage more sensors and operate at a wider temperature range than the E3800 series.

Each processor, or system-on-a-chip (SoC), contains a dedicated security processor that supports a feature called the Intel Trusted Execution Engine 3.0. This enables a number of security features, including a secure booting process designed to prevent malware or other unauthorized software from accessing the processor's firmware or operating system.

Intel's E3900 Series Atom processor
"When we started to design E3900, which was purpose-built for IoT applications, we focused on vertical solutions," says Ken Caviasca, the VP of Intel's IoT Group, "and then went to use cases and technology specifications that we'd need for the silicon."

Those verticals that Intel is eyeing with each new processor are automotive, industrial, digital security and surveillance, manufacturing and retail. For industrial, security and retail applications, those use cases are edge computing, particularly those for which events are precisely timed. That is because the E3900 series uses what Intel calls its Time Coordinated Computing technology, Caviasca explains, which synchronizes clocks inside the chip and across the network to support highly accurate synchronized computing, down to 1 microsecond of accuracy.

For example, a maker of programmable logic controllers used at a manufacturing plant might use an E3900 series chip to handle the tightly synchronized movements of networked robotic arms. The chips' advanced image-processing features and processing power make them applicable for IP-based video cameras, by supporting on-camera analysis so that only relevant data is passed on to cloud-based applications. (In the automotive space, the targeted use cases that Caviasca references are not related to connected-car or IoT applications, but rather to graphics and processing needs for cockpit computers and infotainment applications.)

The E3900 series microprocessors—which are available in three stock-keeping units (SKUs) that range from 6.5-watt to 12-watt thermal design power (thermal output)—is expected to be made available during the first quarter of next year.

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