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M2M Embedded Hardware Practice
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Yesterday, Mac-Grey was acquired by CSC ServiceWorks for a 41% premium over Monday’s share price. This is interesting to us because of the M2M element. The newly combined entity represents a perfect example of what can happen when things coin-operated or otherwise are connected to the cloud. Mac-Grey provides M2M enabled commercial laundry products and services. For example, if you owned an apartment building and wished to provide an on-premises laundry room, you might contract with Mac-Grey to provide that service. Mac-Grey would install and manage the washers and dryers and you, as the building owner, could collect a revenue... Continue reading
The wagers being played in the high-stakes M2M game are definitely getting higher. As we noted last week, Eurotech, who has long being seen as a leader in edge gateways and M2M solutions, divested its Parvus asset in order to place increased focus on its core markets. Yesterday, Intel announced a commitment to deliver intelligent gateway solutions in early 2014, offering a combined platform of Intel, Wind River and McAfee products. These new, pre-validated products will allow embedded computer suppliers and their customers to more easily support M2M deployments targeted at legacy equipment as well as new products. The Intel... Continue reading
The answer is yes and depending on the length of the disruption, the impact will be significant. Decisions on new US aerospace and defense projects will be on hold but the effects of these delays will be minimal as these decisions only impact embedded computer supplier revenues 3 or more years in the future. What will be significant are the numerous small impacts over multiple markets which will tend to move embedded computer supplier revenues that would have been recorded in 4Q/2013 to 1Q/2014. Delays in inspecting and approving products at or for OEMs in medical, aerospace, and defense markets... Continue reading
In today's earlier blog covering Eurotech’s big bet on M2M, we mainly discussed the Eurotech side of the deal. In this follow-up we will provide VDC's View of the Curtiss-Wright side as we believe they have a shrewd strategy in play. In Parvus, Curtiss-Wright receives a complementary set of mobile computing and networking products that will allow diversification beyond their core Mil/Aero markets into markets such as industrial where ruggedized products with superior Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) attributes will be increasingly valued. With ~$20M or more in 2012 revenues and an EBITDA of ~25% Parvus is definitely not a... Continue reading
Today’s announcement of the Eurotech sale of its Parvus division to Curtiss-Wright represents an all-in bet by Eurotech on the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M market in general. The approximate $38M in capital will allow Eurotech to further develop and support its portfolio of the High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC), and “green” highly-efficient super computing products required at the edge of device networks as well as the cloud resources that support them. In the next 3-years we can expect that strategies and actions such as those undertaken by Eurotech will be the rule rather than the exception. One... Continue reading
The winds of change are blowing through the embedded computer board and module market. As 2014 approaches, recent market consolidations and reorganizations will solidify. 2013 will go down as one of the most important years for suppliers to make their voices heard by VDC. Why is this so important? In 2014 and beyond there will be significant shifts in demand for embedded board and module products as seen by these results from VDC's 2013 survey. Many OEM engineers will be designing their new products and, for the first time they will be using embedded modules as opposed to other product... Continue reading
We expect the September 4th fire at a Hynix semiconductor fab producing DRAMs to adversely impact suppliers of embedded products. The perception of a possible supply disruption for DRAMs has already affected pricing. Although Hynix is downplaying the event, the likely affect will be somewhere between a temporary shortage and a larger industry impact that some investors are predicting. Suffice it to say that the potential mix between a cleanroom and “thick black smoke” would be disrupting, even if the equipment was not obviously damaged. It is possible that materials and surfaces in some parts of the facility were contaminated.... Continue reading
First of all, Microsoft announced this week that they would acquire Nokia’s devices and service business. This is an excellent example of what we expect will continue to happen in the M2M and embedded ecosystem. In this case, a larger, more highly capitalized supplier is able to integrate elements of mobile device solutions. This acquisition will allow the combined entity to gain market share that would not otherwise have been practical from a business perspective. For example, Microsoft will be far more capable of making strategic purchases of materials or R&D investments to create new, more competitive mobile and M2M... Continue reading
Technologies are evolving quickly in 3D printing and new nano-materials. Will these new technologies impact the market for embedded computing products? We believe the answer is, yes, but, not immediately. The 3D printing process is too slow for the production volumes needed for many if not most products that contain embedded computing. The first embedded market impact of new 3D and nano technologies will be on the engineering processes that create products not the products themselves. Is the concept of printing electronic circuits new? Not in the slightest. When I first began my engineering career in the late 70s, the... Continue reading
As you may recall, AMD won VDC’s Hardware Embeddy for the new G-Series SoC processors. The G-Series line of these processors continues to expand and this week provides another example of the broadening of that line to address lower TDP applications . With a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) of only 6 Watts the GX-210JA SoC formally announced this morning consumes a third less power than what was, until today, the lowest power G-Series member. On average, and depending on the application, AMD projects the new product will exhibit 3 Watts TDP. This may not seem like a big deal... Continue reading
In 2013, VDC is seeing dynamic shifts in strategy for many OEMs as they respond to market pressures and position their organizations for future opportunities. As the economy improves, the calculus behind the professional services decision may change but most OEMs still prefer to outsource non-core functions. Although the OEM may be losing some product margin to pay for the services consumed, it is a small price to pay compared to the expense and risk of bringing processes back in house. Even so, we see that 10% of OEMs will be considering re-joining the 20% of their peers that do... Continue reading
During the show, we met with Connect Tech Inc. who introduced us to two of their latest Xtreme PCIe/104 products, including the Xtreme/GPU product that can be ordered either with an AMD Radeon E6760 or an NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M. These modules can provide support for up to four displays, which is a lot of capability in a 3.77” x 3.55” form factor. If the solution needs Ethernet capability, the Xtreme/GbE packs 8 ports of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity into that same space. The conversation with Connect Tech took an interesting turn to a discussion about problems which may arise when... Continue reading
In this blog we will continue to provide a few more highlights from the suppliers we spoke to at the 2013 DESIGN WEST / Embedded Systems Conference that was held last week in San Jose. Small Form Factor Motherboards: At the VersaLogic booth we were shown several of their new small form factor motherboards, including the EBX format Copperhead that is powered by an Intel i7 processor and can support up to 3 independent displays. We also saw their COM Express Mini format Falcon and EPIC format Iguana that are powered by Intel Atom processors. The Iguana boards have a... Continue reading
During a recent conversation at VDC, the topic turned to a problem often seen by users of travel and restaurant advisor sites. It is often difficult to determine legitimate user ratings from those that were created by employees or competitors of the venue in question. We believe that Google, Apple, or another industry participant could mitigate this problem by using an M2M architecture solution. Here is how it would work: The persons who would want to be authenticated reviewers of hospitality venues would register at a cloud-based site. The mobile devices they carry would be linked to their profile. The... Continue reading
Last week, while attending the 2013 DESIGN West/Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose we presented the VDC Research Embeddy Award for the best new embedded hardware product. As part of the selection process the VDC Embedded Hardware team met with more than 30 companies to discuss product announcements and a variety of industry trends impacting the embedded hardware market today. Before we get to the award winner, we will start with a few highlights from some of the suppliers we spoke to at the show. Connectivity enhanced Microcontrollers: Microchip usually makes several significant embedded hardware announcements at DW/ESC shows and... Continue reading
The VDC embedded hardware team received a very interesting briefing from RFMicron (Austin, Texas) on an IC component aimed at solving a problem seen with passive RFID tags. In addition to increasing the performance of the RFID tag, the new chip (called Magnus) actually allows the tag to perform additional functions and, as a result, we believe that this product has many potential M2M applications. Here is a bit of background. Passive RFID tags do not contain any power source of their own. When stimulated by the correct RF signal, they chirp back data that is stored on or measured... Continue reading
An interesting opportunity for embedded hardware suppliers caught the attention of the VDC M2M Embedded Platform team. The opportunity was highlighted in a Boston Globe article this week about a local police department that equipped a cruiser with a $28K Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) unit. There were a number of eye-popping statistics starting with the fact that the unit apparently paid for itself in the first 11 days it was deployed. The ROI was accomplished from revenues generated by identifying vehicles and drivers with expired licenses, registrations, inspections, or other unpaid fines and fees. ALPRs can also be used... Continue reading
This morning, we saw a blog about how Danfoss was integrating an M2M application into their solar panel inverter products. What are these particular inverters? Before we begin, it’s worth taking a quick look at what an inverter does. First, a solar panel outputs DC power, at voltages that vary with the applied load. To be able to use this power at the residence and/or output it to the grid, it must be converted to a set AC voltage and frequency. This means that the DC output from the solar installation must be changed to the correct frequency (50 or... Continue reading
Last week, Samsung unveiled its latest Galaxy S4 Smartphone. The first wave of news indicated that it would be powered by Samsung’s new 8-core Exynos 5 octa processor. This is exciting to us because it represents one of the first commercial rollouts of the ARM big.LITTLE technology. Samsung intends to sell the Exynos 5 to other device makers as well. These types of processors although targeted for use in high-end mobile devices, may find M2M and embedded market traction as well because of the many functions that are included and the technology that balances processor speed and power consumption. The... Continue reading
Based on my experience, there is a point to Marissa Meyer’s new policy at Yahoo. Collaboration can indeed happen when people work in a same physical area. When I worked as a product support engineer back in the late 90’s, our team would take calls from field engineers as the second tier of customer support. There was countless times where the team members would overhear a conversation from a person on a call and offer assistance because they had a good idea about what the problem was. If anything, the challenge back then was proving to people that collaboration could... Continue reading
Supplier interviews for VDC’s 2013 Embedded Hardware Service for Embedded Products are currently underway. As a result of a recent SGET (Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies) announcement, we will now be including SMARC as a separate form factor in VDC’s embedded COMs report. SMARC, formerly known as ULP-COM, comprises a Kontron-proposed SGET standard for ultra low power COMs. In 2013, Kontron has announced the release of 3 new SMARC products utilizing one of Freescale, TI, or NVidia ARM-based processors. Somewhat similar in appearance to the DIMM-PC COM form factor which originated with JUMPtec (acquired by Kontron in 2002), SMARC modules... Continue reading
This week, Sony announced some details for the next generation of the Playstation 3 (PS 3) game system. The new product will be called the Playstation 4 (PS 4) which makes sense because once you build a brand, you do not want to create confusion or disruptions with your customer base. From a technical perspective brand continuity is not as easily accomplished while making significant architecture changes between platform models. This is precisely the issue that Sony could have with the PS 4 because of the changes in embedded processing. The PS 4 will now be using an x86 64-bit... Continue reading
VDC Research Group will be joining the embedded world 2013 exhibition and conference. Last year’s conference was a fantastic event, with numerous exhibitions and great presentations of embedded hardware. This year's event looks to be no different with well over 700 exhibitor booths listed. VDC’s Embedded Hardware Team will be arriving February 26th and will be at the conference through February 28th. During that time, we welcome the opportunity to connect with attending vendors. We look forward to explaining VDC’s research methodology, learning about your latest product releases, and discussing your market research and strategic needs. If you would like... Continue reading
This is not to say that embedded computing products are not already found in the typical home. To be quite clear, embedded microcontrollers are used in almost every new appliance that has any type of display, or has features beyond the lowest cost bare-bones models. Embedded computing modules and integrated systems, however, are generally not found in the home, as they are much more expensive than functionally-comparable consumer products. Furthermore, embedded computing products are usually designed with ruggedized, but aesthetically plain, enclosures. Lastly, embedded computers usually have the minimum hardware required for a given application and offer few, if any,... Continue reading
We just saw a review about Huawei’s new Ascend Mate SmartPhone that features a 6.1” touchscreen, and it was far from positive. In summary, CNN Money’s Adrian Covert found the Huawei product’s market placement to be in the less than ideal “Phablet” zone between phone and tablet. We agree with Adrian in one area, it is probably not an ideal size for a phone. But, at the same time, we believe this class of mobile product can possibly experience the same type of success as 3M’s well known Post-It product. Here’s a quick summary in case you did not know... Continue reading