Oct 13, 2015

Icon Labs Remaps from Servers to Edge Nodes

posted by Bryon Moyer

We’ve discussed Icon Labs’ Floodgate offering before – even in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). So when they subsequently announced a Floodgate Security Manager for the IoT, I had to wonder how that was different from the Floodgate stuff they already had. A quick conversation with Icon Labs’ Alan Grau helped clarify the sitch.

The Floodgate suite we talked about before, even in the context of the IoT, is a full-up IT-oriented package running on servers. So in an IoT context, it would be a Cloud package. Specifically, it’s not running on a resource-constrained device.

FSM_Caption_LR_cr.jpgThe new Floodgate Security Manager, by contrast, is intended to be run on miserly IoT edge nodes. That means a few changes from their prior suite. First, the obvious: resources. And there are a number of things on a server – anti-virus management, Windows update management, and such – that don’t apply to an edge node. So those server-oriented functions were pared away.

The other major difference is the protocol support. Servers tend to speak in heavy, feature-rich protocols like AMQP. Edge nodes, on the other hand, use simpler protocols like MQTT and CoAP. The new Floodgate offering has been adapted to those protocols. Not only does this align better with how edge nodes communicate, but it also supports the constrained resource since, by definition and intent, these lightweight protocols require fewer resources to implement (at the expense of many features that an AMQP would have).

You can find out more in their announcement


(Image courtesy Icon Labs)


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Sep 29, 2015

Redpine Gives Makers a “Future-Proof” IoT Platform

posted by Bryon Moyer

Internet of Things (IoT) platforms have been a thing since we started talking about the IoT way back with our coverage of Ayla Networks. The idea is to provide all the pieces necessary for assembling an IoT application.

Problem is, “platform” is an incredibly overloaded term. In our context, it can mean an offering that includes everything you need, or it can mean a framework for interconnecting pieces (pieces not necessarily included). It may even refer only to a portion of an IoT installation, like wireless communication.

Redpine, known generally for its WiFi technology, has recently announced its own platform, which they call WyzBee. They appear to be targeting it largely at the Maker community, which is distinguished by diligent individuals off in garages and sheds with limited resources and negotiating leverage. The platform is being positioned as complete, womb to tomb, soup to nuts.

Not only are there Redpine-originated Things, but it has a design environment where you can create your production design – PC board and all.

What makes this stand out is the level of hardware integration they’ve provided – which they refer to as future-proofing. The platform implements WiFi (“n”, both bands), Bluetooth LE, and ZigBee. The IP commonality afforded by 6LoWPAN in the otherwise non-IP Bluetooth and ZigBee networks helps tie this together into something more than just a board with three random radios on it.

The other integration they’ve provided in their SoC is Twitter and Facebook connectivity. This was apparently a difficult thing to get right. They’ve also implemented direct connectivity to a variety of Cloud services, meaning that applications can access them without a separate external proxy.

Network nodes can communicate using CoAP, MQTT, email, and texts. Security is bolstered by a hardware PUF: a physically unclonable function that establishes the device ID for binding purposes as well as supporting key generation for encryption and authentication.


(Image courtesy Redpine)

You can read more about it in their announcement.

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Sep 25, 2015

We are doomed

posted by Dick Selwood

I've written before on Future Horizon's regular reviews of the state of the semiconductor industry. (The four horsemen). Malcolm Penn, the firm's founder and CEO, is normally fairly up-beat, but yesterday he was wearing black. Given the state of the world economy he sees the market for semiconductor sales as essentially flat in dollars.  Given that unit shipments are maintaining their 29 years of 10% annual growth, the average selling price (ASP) is falling, again another long term trend. The result is that chip companies are going to feel a profitability squeeze, with the probable result of more take-overs. The big concern is what will happen when the world's economy improves. Classically chip demand increases rapidly in an improving economy. There is very little slack in fabrication capacity and very little current investment in new capacity, prices will rise dramatically (as will profits!) but some companies will have orders for products, but nowhere to build them.

We are still on the roller coaster folks.

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