Such a trend in the industrial PC becomes very compelling when one looks at the HMI (human machine interface) as industrial PCs become more closely integrated with equipment. The graphical user interface is moving from workstations directly into industrial equipment along with the controller, making the usability of industrial devices more straightforward and bringing sophisticated graphics based control to more points on the factory floor. A wide variety of Intel based panel PCs are available.
For instance, the panel PC V from Kontron incorporates an ETX Express board with an Intel Core Duo processor along with a 12.1 inch to 17 inch analog resistive touch screen in a rugged enclosure. It also includes five USB ports high speed networking, fanless operation and two open PCI slots. It can be used for any kind of interface from a relatively simple machine specific GUI to a full blown supervisory control and data acquisition system.
The advantage of an Intel Core Duo processor in such a system is that one core can be devoted to running a soft real time operating system like Windows XP Embedded for all the most common tasks such as the Human Machine Interface (HMI) software, networking communications, data logging, etc. while another core can be completely dedicated to real time operating system performing the most time critical operations. Data exchanged between the two OSs via the mechanisms using shared memory will not interfere with the RTOS operations. Such a panel PC puts it all in one rugged box, real time control, graphical operator interface and any other needed computer operations.
Intel’s low power solutions, both in terms of Intel Ultra Mobile chipsets as well as the Intel Ultra mobile processors can extend the some powerful functionality into handheld and mobile devices for a high end human machine interface (HMI) on a small device to connect over a wireless link to a process or machine, which lets the operator use the same HMI on a smaller display.