Intel Expects Sensors to

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2003-10-29 Print this article Print

Replace Simple Identification Approaches"> The current version of the mote is a cookie-like logic board the size of a quarter, said Wei Hong, an Intel researcher on the project. Each mote uses the TinyOS, developed by U.C. Berkeley scientists, to connect to the next sensor and create a network that dynamically adjusts itself as motes are added and subtracted. Software by Rockwell Automation analyzes the results. In a 100-node test network, tests discovered that 20 percent of the motes arent detected by the network, Krishnamurthy said. In addition, the RF fields generated by the wafer manufacturing equipment can interfere with the motes, reducing data transfer rates by as much as 50 percent.
According to Krishnamurthy, Intel hopes to offer the motes as a superior form of RFID chip. While RFID tags are years away from being deployed on individual items, both the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will require their respective suppliers to install RFID programs by January 2005.
Over the long term, RFID tags will be a "Trojan horse" for the more-capable sensors, Krishnamurthy said. "Take a bottle of wine. How do you know if a product has been kept perfectly (aligned)?" Krishnamurthy asked. "Today I can tell you where a product is. Tomorrow, Ill be able to tell you where it has been." However, the additional data from the mote sensors will place a strain on the conventional client-server architecture used by data centers, said Abel Weinrib, director of Intels Communications Lab. "Were looking at an increasing amount of information...thats doubled in the last three years," he said. "The question is, will tomorrows data centers be able to handle this?" Intel is already beginning to look at technologies that will assist data processing, including different strategies to read and write data, as well as object-oriented storage. One addition, dubbed "server network acceleration", will combine Intels work in multigigabit wired Ethernet with its microprocessor development. In current approaches, when data enters a server it is written to memory or to disk, which can require hundreds of computing cycles to fetch. However, overall computing times could be improved if the data were written directly to the processor itself, and stored in on-chip cache memory, said Alan Crouch, director of the Performance Networking Lab at Intel. In addition, Intel is promoting the use and development of object-based storage. This technology seeks to pool data, while separating it from its "metadata," attributes that describe the file, location and contents on a few distributed servers. Meanwhile, Intel is also working on self-managed platforms, which could automatically work to help combat the spread of a worm or virus, Crouch said.


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