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Intel provides virtualisation for industrial IoT

Steve Rogerson
March 20, 2017

At last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg, Intel subsidiary Wind River said it was advancing industrial IoT with a software virtualisation platform enabling critical infrastructure companies to evolve aging legacy control systems not previously designed to support the connected nature of IoT.
Called Titanium Control, it is said to empower the next generation of on-premise analytics to optimise industrial processes.
“The amount of data is going to be vast,” said Gareth Noyes (pictured), chief strategy officer. “We want our customers to realise better business outcomes.”
Because traditional industrial control systems were not designed to support IoT, most are rigid, single purpose, and have a high cost to deploy, integrate and maintain. Additionally, the obsolescence cycle is driving system updates that require new systems to keep pace with innovation while maintaining or lowering capital costs.
Titanium Control is a commercially deployable on-premise cloud infrastructure that virtualises traditional physical subsystems using a platform based on open standards. It delivers the performance, availability, flexibility and low latency needed to reduce capital and operating expenses, as well as lower unscheduled downtime for industrial applications and control services at any scale. Unlike enterprise IT virtualisation platforms, it provides reliability for applications and services deployed at the network edge, for example in fog deployments.
The product has been out with Wind River customers, but Noyes was a little cagey about giving details.
“We have design wins that are going into products this year but we can’t say who,” he said. “They are in the critical process control segment and the product is available today.”
Key features include de facto standard open source software for on-premise cloud and virtualisation, including Linux, real-time kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) and OpenStack . Performance and availability are improved with accelerated vSwitch and inter-VM communications, plus virtual infrastructure management.
Security features include isolation, secure boot and trusted platform module. It is scalable from two to more than 100 compute nodes. And it has hitless software updates and patching with no interruption to services or applications.
“Arc believes the influx of new IIoT technologies now entering the automation market has the potential to be a major disruption to existing business models that have been relatively stable for decades,” said Harry Forbes, research director at Arc Advisory Group, a technology research firm for industry and infrastructure. “An excellent example is Titanium Control, which combines Wind River’s long experience in real-time operating systems with on-premise cloud computing technology. This combination enables the virtualisation of real-time automation applications that until recently could only be implemented in embedded systems hardware. The implications of this capability for the manufacturing automation market are very far reaching, and automation suppliers are noticing.”
Titanium Control is part of the Wind River Titanium Cloud portfolio of virtualisation products for the deployment of critical services from operations to data centre environments that require real-time performance and continuous service availability. It is optimised for Intel Xeon processors, and is pre-validated on hardware from providers of Intel-based servers.
“With the emergence of industrial IoT, companies are looking to deploy next-generation open and secure control systems,” said Jim Douglas, president of Wind River. “Titanium Control addresses this need, and is in active trials with customers in industries ranging from manufacturing to energy to healthcare. Our software has been providing these companies with powerful ways to increase efficiency and bolster safety, security and reliability for the last 35 years. With the addition of Titanium Control to our product portfolio, Wind River is driving a new industrial era through virtualisation, real-time performance and edge-to-cloud connectivity.”