As the edge continues to expand farther out from the data center, the environment becomes less controlled. The need for reliable, high performance computing at the edge has grown tremendously, particularly around video and image processing.
Engineers and Project Managers working on solutions that require both significant power and extreme durability are often faced with difficult decisions trying to balance cost, features, performance, and reliability.
To address these challenges, we created the Karbon 700 high-performance rugged edge computer to bring power and reliability to the edge while remaining flexible and adaptable to a range of applications and use cases.
The Need For Speed At The Edge
Pushing more processing capability to the edge can help reduce operating costs. Data transmission becomes more efficient by allowing much of the number-crunching to happen on-site and sending only the smaller packets of processed information back to the data center or cloud for assimilation. This can help reduce operating costs by minimizing the dependency on large-scale data centers to process and manage data, as well as reduce the cost of data transmission for cellular networks.
Adding additional compute at the edge also allows for high-function applications such as machine learning, object detection, behavior recognition, and even artificial intelligence. These capabilities only become possible with systems that have the necessary computational horsepower to handle these applications in real-time with significantly reduced latency (critical for many machine vision-based automation applications), particularly as these type of projects are increasingly being implemented in environments that are hostile toward technology with extreme temperatures or prone to vibration and/or shock.
Balancing Power, Performance and Flexibility
We’ve spoken before about the nuances of cooling fanless computers, and high-performance systems require significantly more power and, therefore, generate more heat than more lightweight edge devices, such as our Karbon 300 system.
Relying heavily on our thermal engineering expertise, we designed Karbon 700 from the ground up to bring high-performance rugged computing to the edge with minimal CPU throttling or performance degradation. Available high-performance Hexa-Core i7 processors handle an incredible amount of work and multitasking, while Xeon CPUs enable more server-like functionality at the edge.
While GPUs offer additional functionality, they also require more power and generate a significant amount of heat. Purpose-built Vision Processing Unit (VPU) solutions can provide highly-effective machine vision and object recognition capabilities at lower power and thermal envelopes and can be stacked for scalable performance using Intel’s OpenVINO platform, which is why Karbon 700 can also be configured with a range of Intel Movidius VPUs.
On top of that, Digital Input/Output (DIO) opens even more options for communicating and interfacing with other devices, sensors, and peripherals, further enhancing the Karbon 700 system’s flexibility when paired with its performance.
While building a high-performance computer rugged enough to survive challenging environments, one thing we had to keep in mind is the need for computing in mobile and automotive applications. Incorporating CAN bus and ignition sensing with high shock and vibration tolerance allows Karbon 700 to live comfortably on the road, on the tracks, in the air and even at sea.
Too Tough To Quit – High Performance Computing at the Edge
All the compute power in the world is worthless if the system can’t survive its operating environment, which is why we built Karbon 700 to meet MIL-STD-810G and UNECE Reg. 10 E-Mark standards to ensure stable and reliable performance for mission-critical applications.
Building and testing to these standards bestow impressive shock and vibration tolerance, coupled with a fanless design, medical-grade ESD and interference protections, and solid-state components, to allow the system to thrive where most technology would fail.
Bringing Flexibility to the Edge with ModBay™
Outside of raw performance and rugged reliability, we also saw the need for flexibility and customization to deploy Karbon 700’s capabilities at the edge.
Our approach of utilizing modular components and customizable system control allows Karbon 700 to be configured for specific use cases and applications while retaining the rugged build that our partners depend on.
Built on our custom Micro Control Unit (MCU) platform, the system-level behavior of Karbon 700 can be fine-tuned to very specific requirements adding a level of control not found in many high-performance rugged edge computers.
While developing our rugged solutions, it became clear that off the shelf expansion options fell short in terms of power delivery, available digital signals, and thermal capabilities that rugged edge deployments require. To address this we’ve created ModBay™, our proprietary expansion technology, which lets us take control of these factors to enable high-speed connectivity, stable power delivery, and a wide range of additional expansion card support. With ModBay, Karbon 700 can be configured with additional gigabit LAN, PoE support, and dual mPCIe expansion with external SIM support.
Getting Started With the Karbon 700 High Performance Rugged Edge Computer
While there are numerous factors to consider when deploying technology to the edge, we take pride in developing computer systems purpose-built for tough environments with the features and functionality that make integration easy.
Our goal with Karbon 700 was to develop a high-performance rugged edge computer that was highly customizable to adapt to the myriad of environments our partners operate in, and we think you’ll be impressed by just how much Karbon 700 is capable of. Click here to learn more about Karbon 700, or speak with our System Experts who can work with you to recommend a solution that’s right for your unique project demands.
*Note this blog post was originally published on August 21, 2019. It was updated on July 21, 2020.