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Panel PC with Intel Atom processor in stainless steel enclosure

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Operation and display terminals for the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries have to be built so they can be disinfected and easily cleaned. Corrosion-proof, stainless steel enclosures with IP66 protection are the ideal solution, and are available from Kontron Australia .

Other industries where environments are dusty and moist can also profit from these features. A new generation of panels is based on Intel’s Atom processor. These panels deliver convincing results not only due to the low heat development and the flat construction but also thanks to the open x86 architecture. A solution for plant and machine constructors, which can be assembled according to customer-specific OEM versions, is Kontron's Nano Client.

They have the possibility to create different product series just by changing the software. x86 technology can be operated on the same software basis by Intel Atom processors and even multi-core systems. Consequently, borders between the HMI and the Panel PC are literally non-existent. The higher the level of system class - and with it the level of performance - the more functionality can be provided just by adding software modules. For RISC processors this procedure is much more complex, as one RISC family has little in common with another one. In particular, the migration from RISC-based HMIs to x86 Panel PCs requires two completely different software architectures. This is, however, just one aspect that speaks for x86. What's potentially more important is how future proof a technology is: What will be the technology basis of next generation plant and machines? x86 technology already has appropriate solutions on the horizon which are generic enough to be able to carry out any additional functions, as today x86 processors are used in PCs, workstations and servers and fulfill classical PC functions - even those which are required in the industrial segment. But which RISC application offers comparable stability, so that envisaging today's application unchanged in several years poses no problem? At the moment, the RISC-based CE market is experiencing a great upheaval. Trying to imagine what future devices will look like is quite impossible. For example, GSM telephones are turning into extremely multi-functional devices. So the question must be asked, which of the functions integrated in RISC processors will also be of interest for HMI in future? What good, for example, is a DVB-T interface in the chip set if a Panel PC is just to be operated as a MMI/HMI in a plant or machine?

HMI or shop floor client for challenging environments

The Kontron Nano Clients are equipped with a 45nm Intel Atom Z5xx processor and the highly integrated Intel® System Controller Hub US15W. They offer up to 1.6 GHz processing rate and a maximum of 1024 MB soldered RAM, so that even demanding, web-based visualizations can be operated on the compact Nano Client. The Kontron Nano Client provides all interfaces required for HMI or terminal applications: 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x USB 2.0 and Compact Flash for data storage  completes the line-up of this robust system design, which thanks to the lack of moving parts is highly shock- and vibration-proof. A 24VDC power supply is provided which rounds up this industry-proof feature set. OEM versions of the systems with, for example, SD cards or RS232 interfaces, Industrial Ethernet and field-bus connections can be made available by Kontron's ODM (Original Design and Manufacturing) services. The Kontron Nano Client family with 15" monitors has been available since March 2009. 10.4" versions will follow at a later date. In the standard version, the Kontron Nano Clients supports Windows CE.net, Windows XP Embedded and Embedded Linux together with a multitude of protocols like e.g. http, XML and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol).

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