Ron Wilson, Intel FPGA
Embedded computing has passed—more or less unscathed—through many technology shifts and marketing fashions. But the most recent—the rise of edge computing—could mean important new possibilities and challenges.
So what is edge computing ? The cynic might say it is just a grab for market share by giant cloud companies that have in the past struggled in the fragmented embedded market, but now see their chance. That theory goes something like this.
With the concept of the Internet of Things came a rather naïve new notion of embedded architecture: all the embedded system’s sensors and actuators would be connected directly to the Internet—think smart wall switch and smart lightbulb—and all the computing would be done in the cloud. Naturally, this proved wildly impractical for a number of reasons, so the gurus of the IoT retreated to a more tenable position: some computing had to be local, even though the embedded system was still very much connected to the Internet.
Since the local processing would be done at the extreme periphery of the Internet, where IP connectivity ended and private industrial networks or dedicated connections began, the cloud- and network-centric folks called it edge computing. They saw the opportunity to lever their command of the cloud and network resources to redefine embedded computing as a networking application, with edge computing as its natural extension.
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