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Posted 18 Apr 2016
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When Should I Use a Gateway In IoT Development?

, 18 Apr 2016
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Intel® IoT Gateways come in single core up to four core processors, with adjoining ram and storage media. More importantly, gateways using Intel® IoT Technology have been customized for many industrial and commercial uses.

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It is amazing when you realize that Internet of Things (IoT) is really in its infancy. There are so many great discoveries and implementations already found, and thousands more yet to be devised. There are dozens of manufacturers providing great products that make IoT a reality.

Realizing the sophistication of IoT hardware, many have tried to implement with existing server technologies, and most importantly cloud services. However, when you look at sending individual sensor data from a basic low power board it is then you realize the need for more robust equipment to be included in the IoT chain.

Intel is pioneering the use of Gateway technologies in the IoT field. But what is a gateway? The term gateway is most commonly associated as a networking device. Within IoT it performs a similar function, which is to bring many functions, such as connecting dozens of sensors or devices,into a single point of contact. Intel® IoT Gateways come in single core up to four core processors, with adjoining ram and storage media. More importantly, gateways using Intel® IoT Technology have been customized for many industrial and commercial uses.

Aggregator

One of the key draws to using an IoT gateway is as an aggregator. Let’s face it, small form factor devices have their place, but limitations in storage and processing power can slow down a project to a near standstill. Bringing in a gateway into the equation allows the transmittal of data to a centralized location allowing small form factor devices to run more efficiently.

No matter the form factor of your implementation, gateways can add significant aspects into your project. It makes a certain sense to place low power devices close to your sensors. The use of a gateway as an aggregator allows you to group many low power devices together and send their data feed to a gateway with specialty networks.

So using boards like an Intel® Edison or Intel® Galileo allows you to hook up around a dozen sensors. You may need multiple boards to speak to all the sensors. While it is possible to send data directly from the board to the cloud, local topography may make that difficult. Implementing a gateway to talk to the individual boards, and then capitalizing on the power to overcome distance and location allows for unique solutions.

Additionally, it is possible to hook sensors up to a gateway directly. Most gateways can accept at least a dozen sensors in traditional ways. Many gateways also run multiple networks allowing Wi-Fi capable sensors to send data.

Lastly, we need to contemplate your data. While it is possible to send data as it is derived, there are other models that help protect data and ensure a high availability and transfer rate. A simple data stream seems like an easy solution, but batching, packet transfer, or even a file transfer method can ensure a higher quality data delivery.

Taking data a step further, pre, post and reprocessing is possible as well. Many gateways have multi-core processors, which allow for data manipulation without hurting other processes. A gateway is a perfect device to manage data in the field, before it is ever sent to the cloud.

Higher Performance

Intel® IoT gateways are built with Intel® Quark processor, Intel® Atom processors, and Intel® Core™ processor . Units that utilize Intel® Quark processors are single core and run at 400 MHz. Intel® Atomprocessor, based gateways are available in single, dual and quad-core versions. Additionally, Intel® Coreprocessor based gateways are also available in single, dual and quad-core versions. RAM and storage options scale with design and processor needs.

While a Intel® Quark processor based boards such as Intel® Galileo board can meet the needs of many inventors, commercial uses require the need for higher power and increased performance. The needs of IoT will only increase, and that is where Intel® gateways are positioned to provide for the computing needs in most every industrial solution.

Additionally, it is possible to capitalize on the high performance in other ways. While many edge devices run low power, and thus also low Mhz processors, implementing Intel® IoT Gateway devices allow just the opposite. High power processors on gateways provide the ability to do things like Real Time Response. Stronger more complex software that can react to data and responses is just another way that Intel® Gateway devices shine for IoT.

Customization

Intel® IoT gateways are available with a variety of operating systems. Most models use Wind River* Linux as the so called stock OS. Several companies are offering Intel®-based gateways with Snappy Ubuntu* and even Windows* 10 for IoT. With the many choices, software customization is nearly wide open.

Additionally, working with the variety of manufacturers that spec the Intel® processor family, it is possible to create implementations to fit your specific needs. If you want specific interfaces to hook up to your equipment, it can be done. Nearly any IoT related customization is available, speak with any of our OEM manufacturers to inquire about custom designs.

Networking Options

Here is where gateways really shine. The networking options are second to none. A gateway will run a minimum of a LAN network, but dual lan, single and multi-radio Wi-Fi networks are all available. Then look to pair up other networks such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, and others and you can see how robust of a solution you can create. Look to the Intel® IoT Gateway home page for more information.

With the very wide array of networks available, IoT solutions designed on Intel® IoT Gateway devices allow for the use of nearly any equipment, sensor, cloud service, management, and even cell based data delivery. Here is where it gets better. Many Intel® IoT Gateway devices support multiple networks! So it is possible to run several Wi-Fi networks, in conjunction with specialty and or device specific support type networks. This becomes a very strong tool, where other devices may need to shut down a network in order to communicate on another, Intel® IoT Gateway devices can simultaneously support several different types of networks.

The strength of networking shows why aggregation of low power boards, stand-alone sensors, and other IoT devices is a strong consideration in most every commercial IoT project.

Security

One of the key reasons one would choose to use an Intel® IoT gateway is the use of Wind River* Linux. Wind River* Linux is quite robust in its own right, but security is a huge aspect of this OS. Working with McAfee and Wind River* Linux implements a security platform specifically for IoT rather than a solution intended for other uses.

Not only will your data be secure, but so will your devices. Wind River* implementations offer many facets to their security schema. Device security is quite important, and Wind River* adds layers of security for external and internal access. Data security is equally important, so encryption and packet delivery options to the cloud are both available for use.

Manageability

With other lower end and basic solutions, management options are limited or are missing. There are aftermarket and third party solutions, but many find implementation difficult and operability lacking. Intel® IoT Gateways with Wind River* Linux have management software built in. Additionally, implementation of Wind River* Helix Device Cloud and Wind River* Helix App Cloud offer significantly strong options for managing cloud services, apps and hardware.

Not only does Wind River* Linux allow for local manageability, but remote edge devices are also manageable. This can be done manually, or automatically dependent on criteria set by the administrator and programmers. Instead of having to access each edge device manually, it is possible to administrate groups or all the devices from one point of contact.

Conclusion

So we have looked at many of the strong features surrounding Intel® IoT Gateways, but when should you really use one? That is both an easy and hard question to answer fully. There are so many instances that build a strong case for use:

  • When computing power is a key aspect in your overall design.
  • When interconnectivity will make or break your project.
  • Where data security can shut you down.
  • When you need to manage your IoT solution locally or remotely.
  • When you need a robust OS to implement your project within.
  • Where you see that a custom build may be necessary for success.
  • When you have a vast array and a great number of different sensors to connect.
  • When you need sophisticated Wi-Fi options.
  • When you need specialty networks to interface with existing equipment.

These are just a few of the main reasons that gateway solutions were even devised and should be used. There are hundreds of instances as a developer you should use commercial products in the development cycle instead of, off the shelf or retail solutions. Wasting time with unsecure and low end products can hurt development and be a major hurdle in scaling up to a robust commercial solution. Intel® IoT Gateway solutions provide one of the strongest overall developing and implementation platforms available on the market today.

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License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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