You’ve probably heard the phrase “a GPU is a lot more than just a graphics processor.” The capabilities of a given GPU are only part of what make it unique as an embedded computing platform. Other important factors include its expected workload, software support, and price.
As such, embedded GPUs have come a long way over the past few years from being limited to battery-powered arcade game devices to flexible and affordable options for IoT devices and personal computers. But what if you could combine those advantages into one powerful integrated computing platform?
What if you could leverage the GPU in your system not just as a graphics processing element but also as an integral part of other computing components like sensors, controllers, or applications? These use cases are called “5U” (standard desktop) computer systems because they typically consist of five main parts: A motherboard that connects to CPU, I/O expansion space, power supply unit (PSU), and display output connector. Each of these 5U computer systems has its own unique use case — some are better than others — so we’ll explore different examples of how it can be used in IoT applications.
IoT Applications Of A 5U Computer System
An embedded computer system makes an ideal platform for devices that process real-time data and respond to user requests. Most common IoT applications can be satisfied with a typical server-like architecture with a few added capabilities. We’ll start by looking at some non-specific examples.
Upper-level Microcontroller: This SoC option could be used in a variety of embedded devices ranging from home automation systems to industrial robots. It can be used to control high-speed devices like light bulbs, doorbells, and refrigerators.
Ultra-Cost-Effective Digital Signage: A typical microcontroller doesn’t do well with large amounts of data and high user demand. IoT devices need to be connected to the cloud but not everyone wants to deal with the hassles of the cloud. With a smart device and a media player, you can keep your customers connected and entertained even when you’re on the road.
Low Power Sensing: An embedded platform with a high performance SoC is great, but what if you want to use it only during set hours or when there is no demand? An embedded system with an LSPC or I2C sensor could be just the solution. These sensors are programmable to automatically shut off the system during off-hours or when there is no activity.
Wearable technology has seen a recent surge in popularity thanks to fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more. These devices are often equipped with digital signal processing for accurate timekeeping,heart rate monitors, GPS, and much more. IoT applications that could benefit from the security of a connected device include medical devices, financial apps, and remote control devices.
Robotics: The recent surge in popularity of robotics has been heavily influenced by the IoT. Connected robots can perform tasks like manufacturing and housekeeping, but they also have the potential to do much more. An embedded system with an LSPC or I2C sensor could be used to control a connected robot.
Sensors: Sensor-based IoT solutions are becoming more popular as inexpensive, low-power sensors come into wide use. Those that use an LSPC or I2C sensor typically have limited functionality, but they are great for monitoring things like air quality and temperature in your home.
Apps: There are many IoT applications that are best served by a smartphone app. These could include remote control, home automation, consumption and production monitoring, or weather alerts. Apps are perfect for IoT because they don’t require a high-powered computer to run.
Internet of Things (IoT) Applications
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an increasing trend that promises to bring a plethora of new opportunities to the table. By using an embedded computer system, you could create a single source of truth for connected devices. This could include health and medical monitors, robots, refrigerators, and even a doorbell.
Household Appliances: Many home security systems use LSPCs or I2C sensors to monitor house safety, like lights, doorbells, and refrigerators. An embedded system with an LSPC or I2C sensor could be used to automatically turn on the lights when someone walks into the house.
Industrial IoT: RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags and readers are a common method for tracking materials and assets in the real world. RFID technology could be used to track commodities like metal parts, coal mines, or automobiles. An embedded system with an RFID reader could be used to automatically track the location of the asset and issue an alert when it leaves the premises.
Business-critical Applications: Business-critical devices are often connected to the Internet. These systems don’t need to be connected to the cloud — they just need access to data and tools needed to run their business. IoT devices could include access control or inventory management systems, CRM systems, or ERP/MRP systems.
BIM Software Development For 3D Printing
More and more people are turning to 3D printing to create products. These devices are often printed with ABS plastic, leaving them with a low strength and flexibility. An embedded system with an LSPC or I2C sensor could be used to automatically add strength or flexibility to 3D-printed parts.
Food & Beverage: 3D printing could be used to make all kinds of foods, from toys to models of cities, that people could eat or drink at home. Giving something extra strength or flexibility is a great way to make a 3D printed object more durable or user-friendly.
Home Improvement: Home improvement projects are often projects that are done on a budget. 3D printing could be used to create more cost-effective products like structural elements, fixtures, and cabinets.
The benefits of an embedded computer system are almost too many to list. It offers a low-cost, flexible platform for smart devices that can be tailored to any application. It also offers great support for software and hardware expandability, making it easy to add new devices or features.
But the most exciting thing about an embedded computer system is how it can be used as an extension of your applications. For example, a medical device could connect with an embedded system to display real-time data and send instructions to the appropriate medical device. It could also send notifications when a patient’s health conditions change, like their heart rate beat rate, blood pressure, and temperature. These are just some of the many uses for an embedded computer system. As the technology for building embedded systems continues to evolve, new use cases will be explored and new examples of how these systems can be used will become apparent.