At the National Retail Federation Convention, Intel is showing off a new proof-of-concept design for point-of-sale machines that will embed a number of Intel technologies into these devices, including the company's newer 45-nm processors originally used for laptops and Intel's vPro management technology. Intel's goal is to bring its x86 architecture into more and more embedded systems to expand the company's reach beyond desktops, notebooks and servers. Last year, Intel executives said the embedded market could be worth $10 billion in annual sales.
is looking to bring its newer 45-nanometer Core 2 Duo processors along
vPro management technology into the retail space with a new
point-of-sale design that looks to expand the base for the chip giant's
At the National Retail Federation Convention in New
York, which kicked off Jan. 12, Intel
displayed a new proof-of-concept design for POS machines that will embed Intel's
45-nm Core 2 Duo mobile processors
as well as its vPro technology into
these devices in an effort to make these machines more power-efficient and
easier to remotely manage.
The Intel Core 2 Duo processors are the same as the
ones released with the
updated Centrino 2 platform in July.
"We were looking at different markets where
technology could make a big impact in terms of a green perspective,"
said Joe Jensen, the general manager of Intel's Embedded Computing
Division. "Intel has been doing POS machines for about 20 years and
looked at that market we started to realize a couple of things. First,
every system is based on technology and most systems run 24 hours a day
many of the retailers believe these machines cannot be booted properly."
Since laptops need processors that work
within smaller thermal footprints, Jensen said it seemed like a natural fit to
use mobile processors in POS machines that are perpetually left on and running
in retail stores. Most of Intel's newer Core 2 Duo processors work within a
25-watt thermal envelope.
At the same time, Intel's
vPro technology - a set of management, security and virtualization technology
that Intel builds into the silicon itself
- allows a retail store's IT
department to monitor and control a POS remotely, which can save the time and
money it takes to send someone to a store to fix a machine. It also allows a
centralized IT department to monitor machines for security breaches.
While the embedded market is not one of
Intel's main businesses, it is a market that the company is looking to explore.
In 2008, Intel
CEO Paul Otellini estimated the worldwide market for embedded products could
reach annual sales of $10 billion
. At the same time, Intel is looking to
expand the footprint for x86 processors beyond desktops, notebooks and server
systems. In order to accomplish that goal, Intel is looking to embed its x86 processor
architecture into a new generation of POS machines, storage systems and even
smaller devices such as MIDs - mobile Internet devices - and
possibly even handsets, which mainly used ARM processors now.
Ultimately, Intel is looking to
unify this new embedded market around common x86 processor architecture and
software instructional set, while allowing these new devices to connect to
In July, Intel
began offering a number of system-on-a-chip designs for the embedded market
that use an older Pentium M processing core
. Later, Intel will offer new
SOC designs that use the same core that is found in the Intel Atom processors
"It's a $1 billion a year market for
them and they want to expand it," said John Spooner, an analyst with Technology
Business Research. "Intel's argument is that they can take standard Intel
architecture and build embedded devices around it. Intel believes it can make
those devices cheaper and allow companies to build them quicker. At the same time,
all the software is there and it also allows companies to hook these devices up
to the Internet."
Chip companies such as Intel and Advanced
offer stable platforms for the embedded market since retail
stores do not upgrade POS machines with the same frequency as they would a
server or PC. In this case, Intel is offering a seven-year guarantee with this
new retail design.
For now, Jensen said Intel's new POS
design has not been picked up by manufacturers just yet, but he said Intel is
talking to several OEMs about building machines that use the technology.