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Dell intros IoT Gateway; Samsung shrinks smartphone chips for IoT

Two major vendors further invest in the Internet of Things, with the Dell IoT Gateway and Samsung Artik aiming for improved efficiencies.

Dell is making a major push into infrastructure designed to ease connections for the Internet of Things (IoT) by offering an IoT gateway that it says will collect sensor data securely at the network edge and process it more efficiently by minimizing the amount that must be transferred to data centers or the cloud.

The Dell IoT Gateway is available now in the U.S. and Canada and starts at $479.

“What we have found is that there is a market opportunity to do more at the edge,” said David Chang, a Dell director of product marketing.

Dell was already a major provider in data infrastructure, with offerings in servers, storage and networking, according to Chang. It has also made related acquisitions in the cloud and analytics, including Boomi, a cloud integration provider, SonicWall, which makes Internet appliances, and StatSoft, maker of Statistica analytics software. By offering a gateway, it can give IoT implementers another location besides data centers and the cloud for processing the analytics that are seen as critical in many IoT applications. “What a gateway really needs is to be secured and managed like a PC, but be 24/7, deploy and leave it,” he said.

The device contains a 1.6-GHz, dual-core Intel Celeron processor and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and comes with no operating system, which means it can support ones loaded by the user, such as Ubuntu Linux, Windows Embedded Standard and Wind River Linux, according to the spec sheet. Roughly the size of a cable Internet modem, the Dell IoT Gateway will soon come in other form factors, said Chang.

Dell has been focusing on forming partnerships with system integrators that specialize in operational intelligence, and that are among early adopters piloting the IoT gateway, he said. One such partner, KMC Controls, said it will use the gateway to connect its building automation systems to the IoT and make them more scalable across building sizes. 

Asked about competition, Chang said the IoT gateway market has so far been dominated by second- and third-tier companies. “We haven’t really seen a lot of tier-one companies yet, at least publicly.” Microprocessor giant Intel, however, introduced a family of IoT gateways more than a year ago.

As for supporting IoT standards, which are just being sorted out, Chang said firmware updates will allow the Dell IoT Gateway to stay current with them. Today, it supports commonly used connection standards, such as serial and USB ports and Bluetooth wireless, and comes with gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi. “What we’re trying to do is manage them together.”

Samsung sees Artik system-on-a-chip as IoT powerhouse

Another major vendor recently staking a claim to the IoT is Samsung, which unveiled a family of three “systems on a chip” that essentially make its Galaxy smartphone technology accessible to IoT device makers and software developers.

Called Artik, the chip modules combine CPU, memory, wireless networking and, in some cases, motion sensors or video --  all requirements for the location-aware remote communication and data processing that underlie most IoT applications.

“When you have multiple devices that don’t talk to each other, you are living in data silos,” said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics, in a keynote speech at the Internet of Things World conference where Artik was announced.  The new chip modules will come with enough connectivity to plug into an IoT ecosystem, he said, and tools to enable more efficient development of applications across devices. “We want to build a scale and a size at Samsung so that you can get the Internet out of these cards.”  

Artik modules come in three sizes that vary widely in capability, depending on their role in the IoT. The low-power Artik 1, 12mm square, has the least amount of memory and slowest processor and is most suited to wearables and other small devices, thanks to an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer that sense movement. The Artik 5 is around twice the size, adding video and many times the memory and processing, at 4GB and 1.6GHz respectively, and geared to midsized IoT devices, such as drones and smartphone hubs. The Artik 10 adds CPU and video electronics powerful enough for home media servers.

Jose Torres, co-founder and CEO of REFLX Labs, said the Artik 1 chip made it possible for his company to develop Boogio, a system of foot sensors now being piloted in physical therapy and athletic applications. “Data from the feet gives you a lot of content for a lot of things,” he said.

Torres compared the small circuit board used in an early Boogio prototype to the tiny Artik 1. “For us to get from here to there was not possible,” he said, without Samsung miniaturizing the system. 

At the conference, Samsung also trotted out the SmartThings OpenCloud, a development platform and data-exchange hub bundled with the Artik modules and offered by SmartThings, a subsidiary that makes home IoT products.

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