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In the Zone

With Intel NUC Visual Solutions, the eyes have it

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by Peter Krass on 07/27/2021
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Visual solutions are hot. Customer kiosks, digital signage, computer vision and digital whiteboards are all big, fast-growing markets.

> Computer vision: The worldwide market was worth $10.6 billion in 2019, and sales are projected to grow nearly 8% a year through 2027, according to Grand View Research.

> Digital signage: Sales worldwide are projected by Kenneth Research to reach $31.7 billion by 2022.

> Digital kiosks: Sales totaled $20.3 billion worldwide last year, according to Fortune Business Insights. It expects these sales to grow by an average of 12% a year through 2028.

Look at NUC

If you’re a tech provider looking to get into these big visual solutions markets, or if you’re already in but would like to do more business, you have a new tool on your side: the Intel NUC Mini PC.

NUC Mini PC

Available in your choice of ready-to-run PC, kit, board or element, the Intel NUC is a small but full-powered PC. And it includes key features for visual solutions:

> Intel Watchdog Timer Utility: Monitors applications on an Intel NUC and can automatically restart them.

> Display Emulation: Enables emulation of displays in either 1 or 2 of the Intel NUC HDMI ports when a display is either unattached or temporarily disconnected.

> Client Management Interface: Query and configure the HDMI CEC via the Intel NUC WMI interface. CEC, short for Consumer Electronics Control, is an HDMI feature that controls devices using one remote controller. And WMI, short for Windows Management Instrumentation, allows for the query and control of features from within an OS.

In your sights

Depending on which visual markets you’re interested in, Intel NUC has a range of powerful features to offer.

Kiosks: The small form factor of the Intel NUC — some models measure just 4x4 inches — takes up minimal space. Yet the devices are scalable with a range of Intel CPUs available. For speedy setup, the Intel NUC can be used off the shelf with no need for proprietary hardware or software. And these devices are qualified for 24x7 operation and, with Intel Core vPro technology, remote management and security.

One company using Intel NUC Mini PCs for powering kiosks is Symtron. Based in Buenos Aires, Symtron has standardized its entire portfolio of custom kiosks on Intel NUC.

Why? In part because Symtron’s customers want a stable platform they can stick with over time. Intel NUC provides that kind of stability. These customers also want kiosks they can afford. Intel NUC provides that, too, coming in at much lower cost than specialized industrial computers. Finally, Symtron’s customers want reliability. Intel NUC helps Symtron deliver that with its 3-year warranty and 24x7 sustained operations.

Digital signage: One Intel NUC Mini PC can power up to four 4K displays or one 8K unit. This mini-PC also has mounting options built right into the chassis.

All that made sense for SpinetiX, a Swiss supplier of digital signage systems, serve small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in telecom, retail and other verticals. SpinetiX’s SMB customers now use a platform based on the Intel NUC 8 Rugged to attract customers, advertise their wares, entertain both customers and employees, and create new revenue streams.

Computer vision: The Intel NUC is small enough to conceal near the display. Custom solutions are possible with the Intel NUC kit versions. There are also robust options for displays, storage, peripherals, and wireless connectivity.

The Ontario Regiment Museum, which holds Canada’s largest collection of operational military vehicles — tanks, trucks, personnel carriers and more, some dating back to the 1940s — is sold on NUC for computer vision. During the worst days of the pandemic, the museum greeted visitors with an animated virtual agent named Master Corporal Lana.

Virtual agent Lana

Virtual agent Lana (pictured above) was developed by a local tech provider, CloudConstable, using its Animated Virtual Agent (AVA) software. The system runs on an Intel NUC 9 Pro Mini PC.

Collaboration: Digital whiteboards and other collaboration systems can get a real boost from Intel NUC’s small footprint, ability to control up to four 4K displays, and wide range of port options for both wired and wireless connectivity (HDMI, Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet).

Banner Health, which runs nearly 30 acute-care hospitals in the western U.S., used the Intel NUC to transform nearly 1,000 hospital-room TVs into virtual care endpoints.  As part of the solution, an Intel NUC is attached to a TV, loaded with telehealth software, and augmented with a speakerphone and camera.

You could look it up

Want to learn more about Intel NUC Mini PC? You can take any of more than 30 NUC-related training courses now available on Intel Partner University as NUC Competencies. Among these courses are several covering the Intel NUC for digital signage.

Intel Partner University is a valuable part of the new Intel Partner Alliance. Not yet taking advantage of Intel’s partner program? Activate your membership or join today.

 

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In the Zone

Why telehealth is part of the ‘new normal’

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by Peter Krass on 07/26/2021
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One surprising result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the way it accelerated the adoption of certain technologies. Think of how many people bought new laptops, tablets, wireless routers and more, both to work from home and watch streaming TV shows and movies.

Another technology that got a surprising boost is telehealth.

Telehealth served an important need during the height of the pandemic. Many medical and dental offices were closed. But people still needed to be seen by their doctors and dentists. Enter telehealth.

Even as the pandemic winds down (fingers crossed!), we aren’t going back to the old normal. WFH is now entrenched. As is streaming. And telehealth.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never see a doctor or dentist face-to-face again. Of course you will.

But think about the way many companies are now adopting new hybrid work schedules, allowing employees to work from home some days, requiring them to come to the office on others. Same thing is happening with telehealth. For certain types of medical consultations, telehealth fits the bill.

The telehealth market is growing quickly. Total U.S. sales of telehealth products and services will grow on average by 28% a year through 2026, predicts ResearchAndMarkets. The dollars are there, too. For just a single market segment — remote patient monitoring — the market watcher expects worldwide revenue in 2026 to total $13 billion.

From TV to telehealth

One company throwing its weight behind telehealth is Intel. During the pandemic’s worst days, Intel worked with telehealth companies to set up solutions in hospitals, using their existing IT infrastructures.

For example, Intel worked with Banner Health, a nonprofit healthcare provider that operates 28 acute-care hospitals. Together, they upgraded nearly 1,000 television sets in hospital patient rooms into interactive telehealth systems.

The setup involved adding Intel NUC Mini PCs and advanced telehealth software. Once operating, the systems allowed physicians, nurses and other healthcare practitioners to check in on patients, monitor their oxygen levels and other vitals, and do it remotely

Telehealth training

Looking to get into telehealth, but need to know more? Intel is here to help.

You can take nearly a dozen healthcare-related training courses now with Intel Partner University. That’s the training arm of the new Intel Partner Alliance, which unites all Intel partner programs.

These partner training courses include “AI and deep learning in health,” “IoT and healthcare” and “How NUC is changing industries.” Some of these courses can be completed in as little as 15 minutes, meaning you can fit them in between your other appointments and projects.

Are you a member of Intel Partner Alliance? Activate your membership or join today.

Learn more:

> Telehealth: Necessary Today, and Here to Stay (Intel article)

> Intel Partner University healthcare training courses (login required)

 

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In the Zone

Infographic: How to sell 11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors

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by Peter Krass on 07/23/2021
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Do you know your customers’ desktop pain points? If so, you’re halfway to knowing how to sell the 11 gen Intel Core desktop processor family.

11th gen Intel Core desktop processor

Are your customers talking about cores, threads and FPS? Gaming, streaming and multitasking? New peripherals? Or maybe compatibility and supply?

However you answer, a new infographic from Intel has you covered.This Intel infographic explains how to have conversations wth customers about desktop performance, use cases, novelty and brand trust.

By using these common conversation threads — along with additional talking points and supporting evidence also provided — you’ll be selling 11th gen Intel Core desktop processors with the best of them.

Download the infographic now — click the PDF link below.

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In the Zone

Tech Explainer: How gaming PCs keep their cool

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by Kevin Jacoby on 07/22/2021
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Cooling systems are the unsung heroes of PC gaming.

Coolers may not be all that glamorous. They’re quietly efficient. They don’t call much attention to themselves.

But without the right cooling system, your customer’s hot new game would grind to a halt. Nothing glamorous about that.

Why computers get hot

Heat is the archenemy of any computer. So why do PCs get hot in the first place?

It all comes down to one word: resistance.

Every component of a computer, including its processor and GPU, draws electricity. The more powerful the component, the more electricity it needs. Gaming PCs use some of the most powerful components available, so they use a lot of juice.

Now, as all that electricity flows across the circuits and through the wires of a high-performance processor, it encounters natural resistance. That resistance, in turn, creates heat.

In a gaming PC, this level of heat can rise quickly. Without the right cooler, a gaming computer can easily reach internal temperatures in excess of 200 F. Keep that going long enough, and inevitably your system will fail.

So how cool should a gaming PC be? Ideally, no more than 176 F, according to CPUTEMPER, a website covering CPU and GPU temperature issues. That’s why gaming systems need such powerful ways to keep their cool.

Blowing in the wind

There are two main approaches to cooling gaming PCs: air and liquid.

Most consumer gaming PCs are cooled with air. Air coolers aren’t as effective as liquid coolers. But they’re less expensive and easier to maintain.

The cooling starts with the processor itself. A dab of thermal paste helps transfer heat from the top shell of the CPU, called the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS), to the baseplate of the CPU cooler. From there, the heat gets transferred via one or more heat pipes to a radiator.

Corsair air-cooling system

Corsair A500 Dual-Fan CPU cooler

The radiator’s thin, metal fins are designed to maximize exposure to cooler air, which helps to carry the heat away. In most PCs, this process is aided by a temperature- and sensor-controlled fan. As heat builds up, the fan spins into action.

Some air-cooled PCs also have smaller intake and exhaust fans mounted inside the chassis. These fan create positive airflow, pulling cool air in from the PC cabinet’s front and pushing hot air out of the top, sides and rear.

Liquid refreshment

Liquid cooling systems, such as the one shown in this Asetek video, are more complex and expensive than their air-cooling cousins. But you get what you pay for.

Liquid cooling is not only quieter than air, it’s also more effective and efficient. That makes liquid cooling ideal for high-performance, competitive gaming.

Asetek liquid cooler

Asetek 690LX-PN liquid cooler – approved for Intel Xeon CPU

Just like its air-cooling cousin, a liquid cooling system transfers heat from the IHS to the cooler’s baseplate. This is done via the thermal paste sandwiched in between.

But here’s where things get different. The heat is transferred to the system’s liquid coolant. This coolant then gets pumped away from the CPU and other components via an outlet tube.

At the end of the tube, the hot liquid reaches a radiator. It’s then cooled by air blown through the radiator’s fins by small intake fans mounted on the front of the chassis. A larger fan behind the radiator acts as an exhaust, pushing hot air out through a port in the rear.

Once the coolant’s temperature drops, it begins the return journey. The coolant is pumped back to the CPU via a return tube, and the process begins anew.

Exceptions that prove the rule

While traditional air- and liquid-cooling systems are the most common types, they’re not the only games in town.

In another approach, the PC relies on a sturdy but thin aluminum chassis to dissipate heat naturally. In effect, this makes the entire chassis one big heat sink.

Yet another approach is used for supercomputers that kick off more heat than a standard cooler can handle. Designers submerge the entire computer in a bath of thermally (but not electrically) conductive liquid called dielectric coolant.

This method, known as immersion cooling, draws the heated coolant away and replaces it with cooler liquid. This process is similar to standard liquid cooling, but it operates on a much larger scale.

Stay cool, baby

Gamers are a competitive bunch. They’ll always refer to faster processors and higher core-count GPU arrays as the specs that help them win competitions.

But it’s the cooling system that keeps their gaming rigs running. Without adequate cooling, your customer’s hot CPU would be one hot mess. 

 

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In the Zone

Meet the latest PCs from Lenovo, Acer, HP

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by Peter Krass on 07/20/2021
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Demand for PCs is nearly as hot as the weather. Last year, PC demand was driven by everyone suddenly working from home. This year, you might think demand would weaken, but it hasn’t.

In fact, shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations worldwide rose by 13% in this year’s second quarter, according to market watcher Canalys, for a total of 82.3 million units shipped.

“The PC market could not be in a better position,” says Canalys' research director, Rushabi Doshi.

To keep up with this demand, PC makers are scrambling. They’re making notebooks lighter, desktops faster, and getting ready for the upcoming release of Windows 11.

Here’s your tech provider’s roundup of some of the latest new PCs from the industry’s top suppliers.

Lenovo ThinkStation P350

Lenovo earlier this month introduced an entry-level desktop workstation, the ThinkStation P350. It comes in 3 form factors: Tower, Small Form Factor (SFF), and Tiny. They’re designed for designers, engineers and students.

Lenovo ThinkStation P350 Tower

Lenovo ThinkStation P350 Tower

For processing power, the P340 and SFF both offer a choice of either 11th gen Intel Core (up to i9) or Intel Xeon W-series processors. They also support Nvidia’s RTX A5000 graphics card, handy for VR applications.

Storage options include a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD with up to 2 TB of capacity. Memory runs up to 128GB of DDR4. And OS options include Windows 10 (Pro for Workstations, Pro or Home), Ubuntu Linux, and Red Hat enterprise Linux.

Lenovo describes the P350 Tiny as “the world’s smallest workstation.” Indeed, the device measures just 1.4 x 7.2 x 7.0 inches and weighs under 3 pounds.

Yet the Tiny is based on 11th gen Intel Core processors (up to i9) and Nvidia’s P1000 graphics. And it can support up to 6 displays.

All 3 devices are set to start shipping later this week. Starting retail prices are $969 for the tower, $949 for the SFF, and $899 for the Tiny.

Learn more:

> ThinkStation P350 Tower and SFF data sheet (PDF)

> ThinkStation P350 Tiny data sheet (PDF)

Acer ConceptD

Acer has refreshed this line of notebooks for creators with 3 enhancements: the latest 11th gen Intel Core H-series processors, Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 graphics, and 16-inch 3K screens with a larger 16:10 display ratio.

Acer Concept D laptop

Acer Concept D: 11th gen Intel Core power

That 16-inch display is Pantone-validated for color accuracy. Acer says it’s noticeably taller than more conventional 16:9 ratio displays, giving creators more room to work.

Other innovations include a cooling system Acer calls Vortex Flow. It’s a 3-fan cooling layout that’s said to let users eke out extra performance from demanding workloads.

In all, Acer updated 4 models in this line: ConceptD 5, ConceptD 7 Ezel, ConceptD 3, and ConceptD 3 Ezel. Shipments are set for later this year, and retail prices range from $1,300 for the model 3 all the way up to $2,500 for the model 7 Ezel.

HP Pavilion Aero 13

HP’s lightest consumer laptop weighs in at just under a kilogram (2.2 lb.). It does this in part by using a magnesium aluminum chassis, and it’s the first in HP’s Pavilion line to do so.

HP Pavilion Aero 13

HP Pavilion Aero 13 comes in 4 colors

Yet the Pavilion Aero 13 features a 13.3-inch screen with that 16:10 aspect ratio and 2.5K resolution. HP says the display is also bright enough to be used outdoors in direct sunlight.

The Pavilion Aero 13's battery life is promised for up to 10.5 hours. And HP says the device is “expected” to be upgradeable to Windows 11 later this year.  

Shipments of the HP Pavilion Aero 13 laptop start this month, and retail prices open at about $750.

 

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In the Zone

Working from wherever? These mobile apps can help

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by Kevin Jacoby on 07/16/2021
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Forget getting back to normal. The global pandemic has created a new work from home (WFH) culture that’s here to stay.

Mobile apps are making the transition, too. The latest ones will let you and your customers work from just about anywhere.

If WFH taught us anything, it’s that the traditional office isn’t as necessary as we once thought. We can get on Zoom instead of getting on an airplane. We can collaborate on Slack instead of gathering in the bullpen. And we can store big PC files on DropBox, then later retrieve them on our phones.

This genie isn’t going back into the bottle. Sure, vaccination rates are climbing in many major U.S. cities. But there’s no cure for our desire to work smarter, more efficiently and without a long commute.

Office: beyond the office

Is your spreadsheet data reliable? If so, then no one cares where you made it. So why not run Excel on your iPad from wherever you happen to be?

Microsoft’s venerable Office 365, starting around $70/year, is truly cross-platform. You can start a project on your Windows laptop, add some facts and figures from your Android tablet, and review coworker comments on your iPhone while waiting in line for ice cream.

Microsoft Office mobile apps

Office 365 apps: made for mobile — Windows, Android or iOS

And soon you’ll be able to fire up a full version of Windows in any mobile or desktop browser. Microsoft just announced a new platform it calls the Cloud PC. The new Office 365 will take SaaS a step further by offering a browser based OS and apps accessible from any internet-enabled computer.

Or are you as tired of MS Office as you are of your physical office? In that case, variety is just a click away. Google offers a full office suite. Apple has one, too. Both allow you to import and export native Microsoft Office files.

Slack: not just for slackers

When the pandemic hit, WFHers had to scramble to stay in touch with coworkers throughout the day. Their challenge: find a smart, intuitive platform that meets everyone’s needs.

For many, the answer was Slack. That’s the uber-productivity platform that describes itself as “your virtual HQ.”

Once the worst-kept secret of the BuzzFeed crowd, Slack is now all grown up and ready to do some serious business. Its notable features include multimedia chats, video conferencing, project management, to-do’s and reminders.

Slack on mobile & desktop

Slack: stay in touch via both desktop and mobile

Slack even has a built-in function that enables collaboration among different companies. Imagine a PR firm, ad agency, video crew and client all working together on an ad campaign via Slack.

Slack subscriptions range from free with limited features to around $12/month/user for the full Business+ suite.

But Slack isn’t for everyone. If apps wore clothes, Slack would be compulsively clad in New Balance trainers and an ironic Van Halen T-shirt.

If your thing is more pinstripes and power ties, you may want to take a look at Microsoft Teams. Its super-tight integration with Office apps Word, Excel and PowerPoint delivers equal doses of convenience and sober maturity.

Cloud storage: So many files, so little time

No matter where you’re working, chances are you’re creating a ton of files, some of them quite large. What you need now is easy access to those files on every device, anywhere in the world. That’s where cloud-storage apps such as Dropbox come in.

Cloud storage makes perfect sense for mobile work. While you can easily put together terabytes of storage space on a PC, that’s not so easy with a tablet or smartphone. That’s why leasing space in the cloud — the average rent for 2 TB is around $10/month — will save you time, hard-drive space and sanity all at once.

Dropbox on a mobile device

Dropbox: all files on mobile — without taking up precious storage

And Dropbox isn’t the only game in town. You can also get cloud storage from Microsoft, Google, Apple, WeTransfer, Box, Amazon and dozens of other providers. Most offer a small amount of storage for free, making it easy to try before you buy.

Maximizing mobility

Now that Pandora’s Box is open, will we ever go back to the office again? The answer is both yes and no.

For some, office space is a necessary expense, necessary inconvenience — and necessary evil. For others, it’s an anachronistic ritual to be cast aside in favor of efficiency and convenience.

For the rest of us, we’ll settle into a hybrid solution, one that involves a little bit of mobile commuting as well as a little bit of mobile computing. Free from the earthly bonds of our desks, we’ll rise up, if not to the heavens, at least to the cloud.

It’s a big world out there. Go find a nice place to do some work!

 

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In the Zone

Research roundup: PC demand, IT spending, cloud migration, healthcare cybersec

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by Peter Krass on 07/14/2021
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PC demand is cooling. IT spending is entering a new phase. Cost-cutters are selling the cloud short. And DNS attacks are making healthcare very unhealthy.

That’s some of the latest from leading IT market watchers and industry surveys. And here’s your tech provider’s roundup.

PC forecast: hot today, cooler tomorrow

Last year’s surge in PC purchases made sense, given how many people were suddenly working from home due to the pandemic. But now, hasn’t everyone who needs a new laptop gotten one?

Pretty much, says IDC. While global PC shipments remained strong in this year’s second quarter, the market watcher sees early signs that consumer demand is slowing.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs — that’s desktops, laptops and workstations — totaled 83.6 million units in Q2. Compared with the year-earlier quarter, that's an increase of 13.2%.

To be sure, 13% growth is nothing to complain about. But it does mark a slowdown from the previous 2 quarters. In this year’s first quarter, global PC shipments rose 56% year-on-year. And in last year’s fourth quarter, PC shipments worldwide rose nearly 26%, IDC says.

Looking ahead, IDC believes the business and consumer ends of the PC market could head in opposite directions. Business demand for PCs is likely to rise as companies require workers to return to the office at least part-time. But consumer demand seems likely to fall, as consumers shift their spending priorities after a year of aggressive PC shopping.

IT spending: behold a new phase

Overall IT spending this year will rise nearly 9% over last year, hitting a worldwide total of $4.2 trillion, predicts Gartner. But that’s not even the most important part.

This is: “Tech spending is entering a new build phase.” That's according to Gartner research VP John-David Lovelock.

“This means building technologies and services that don’t yet exist,” Lovelock adds, “and further differentiating organizations in a crowded market.”

One area likely to get a big spending boost is IT services. Spending here grew only 1.7% last year, but this year will rise 9.8% to $1.18 billion, Gartner expects.

Gartner cites infrastructure as a service (IaaS) as the big-ticket item. Spending on IaaS can reduce spending for on-premises systems while fully supporting mission-critical workloads.

“Digital transformation can no longer be purchased overnight,” Lovelock says. “Global IT spending projections reflect that.”

Cloud: you get what you come for

Organizations that migrate to the cloud mainly to save money may be setting their sights too low. They'll get those savings. But they may miss out on other, even more valuable benefits.

That's according to a new Accenture report, based on the consulting firm’s survey of some 4,000 C-level execs worldwide.

Accenture finds that when organizations migrate to the cloud for cost-cutting, they do indeed save money. Accenture found that 65% of organizations that migrated to the cloud saw, on average, up to 10% cost savings.

Many of these same organizations see cloud as a fixed endpoint. Accenture calls that a limited migration mindset, which it believes is a big mistake.

For example, 80% of these organizations fail to prioritize the use of cloud-native architectures, applications and data for new initiatives.

By contrast, organizations that set a higher bar for the cloud also enjoy bigger benefits. These organizations see the cloud as a launch pad for both innovation and new ways of operating. As a result, they not only enjoy bigger cost savings than others, but also gain other benefits. They’ll also be better positioned to withstand future shocks, Accenture believes.

Healthcare: unhealthy with cyberattacks

During the pandemic, the healthcare industry suffered more DNS attacks than any other industry, finds a survey sponsored by network and automation vendor EfficientIP.

The average cost of a DNS attack on a healthcare organization last year rose 12% year-on-year, hitting $862,630.

Again, that’s the cost of just one attack. The average healthcare organization was the victim of a DNS attack nearly 7 times last year, the survey finds. On average, mitigating each attack took about 6.5 hours.

More than half of all healthcare respondents (53%) said their organizations suffered application downtime as the result of a DNS attack. Other results of DNS attacks on healthcare organizations included cloud-service downtime (reported by 46%), compromised websites (44%) and damage to their brand (31%).

Healthcare organizations are fighting back. Nearly 80% plan zero-trust initiatives. 

“We all knew the healthcare industry would be a prime target for cyberattacks during the pandemic,” says Ronan David, VP of strategy at EfficientIP. “But it's really fascinating and useful to see the data in black and white."

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In the Zone

How silicon photonics connects servers at the speed of light

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by Peter Krass on 07/13/2021
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For data-center managers, data bottlenecks are a big and fast-growing problem. Among large organizations, data traffic can double every 2 years. That kind of growth can put real strain on a data center’s networking gear.

One powerful way to ease these bottlenecks: replace older copper-based transceivers with faster optical transceivers.

These optical transceivers and their cabling offer several advantages over their copper-based predecessors. They’re faster. Far less bulky. Highly reliable. Qualified to extreme ambient temperatures. And able to send data over much longer distances — 10 kilometers to copper’s 4 meters, and at 25 gigabits per second (Gbps) per lane.

Intel’s bright light

Intel got into the silicon photonics optical transceiver business early, back in 2016. Actually, the company had been selling its 1/10/25 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) optics in the channel for much longer than that. But as speeds increased beyond 25 GbE, Intel decided it made sense to bring integrated optics in-house.

With networking speeds increasing from 100 Mbps to 400 Gbps (and soon, even faster), it become critical for Intel to align the optics and the lenses within its transceivers. That meant higher assembly complexity, which isn’t great if you’re looking for scalability, high yields and low cost. Clearly, Intel needed another method for aligning the lenses accurately.

Enter Silicon Photonics. It puts the lasers, modulators, detectors and all other optical elements within silicon, and without the need to align them optically.

Early optical transceivers had just 1 laser on a chip. Today they have 4 or even 8. What’s more, these lasers can now be run at different wavelengths for 4x or 8x faster modulation per fiber.

Demand for silicon photonics is big. Intel says it shipped some 2 million optical transceivers last year. The company also shipped more than 5 million 100 Gbps transceivers to date.

The following chart, from Crehan Research, shows that 100 GbE ports are forecast to outship both 10 and 25 GbE ports. You can see this by comparing the rising green line (100 GbE) with the falling purple (10) and red (25).

Crehan Research chart

To date, most of these shipments have gone to big hyperscale data centers, such as those run by AWS, Google and other providers of cloud. As you can imagine, these users have an insatiable appetite for data speeds. Indeed, Intel is now sampling 8-laser optical transceivers rated at 800 Gbps.

Light years ahead

That’s extreme. For many data centers, 100 Gbps is now the standard currency. And for these customers, Intel offers its Intel Silicon Photonics 100G CWDM4 QSFP28 Optical Transceiver, pictured below.

Intel Silicon Photonics optical transceiver

Typical orders for these transceivers number in the hundreds or thousands. That may seem high, but note that each Ethernet switch gets 32 optical transceivers. For example, if your customer had just 10 switches, they’d need 32 x 100 = 320 transceivers.

Assuming 100Gbps transceivers, these would be 3.2-terabit Ethernet switches. With this number, you might be able to support 8 racks of servers. Each rack would have 1 top-of-rack switch, and each would use 2 switches for aggregation and interfacing with your transport equipment. Plus, you’d need 1 additional transceiver for each server, which in this example would total about 200 units.

Improve your data-center networking skills

If you’re still with me, then you’ll be interested in a new training course being offered by Intel Partner University. The course is Optical Networking at Scale with Intel Silicon Photonics.

In this course, you’ll learn about the advancements Intel has made in Silicon Photonics over the last four years since launching 100 Gbps transceivers. You’ll also learn how, by manufacturing optics at scale, Intel has deployed more than 5 million transceivers to date for hyperscale data centers.

This course also reviews industry trends in optical networking inside data centers, as well as the key building blocks of pluggable optical transceivers. The presentation also looks at the benefits of co-packaged optics, which is expected to begin deployment in the next 2 to 3 years. Then it all wraps up with a brief forecast of future applications for high-volume Silicon Photonics beyond the data center.

Take the “Optical Networking at Scale with Intel Silicon Photonics” training course today

Get connected:

> Explore Intel Silicon Photonics

> Intel Silicon Photonics 100G CWDM4 QSFP28 Optical Transceiver (product brief)

Not yet a member of Intel Partner Alliance? Activate your membership or join today.

 

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In the Zone

How Intel NUC helps a leading digital-signage provider serve SMBs

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by Peter Krass on 07/08/2021
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Intel’s NUC Mini-PC is helping SpinetiX, a Swiss supplier of digital signage systems, serve small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in telecom, retail and other verticals.

Previously, most digital signage systems were too complex and expensive for SMBs. These companies wanted digital signage that’s easy to install and implement, really just plug-and-play. They’ve also sought PCs to power these systems that are quiet, small and secure.

Intel NUC fits the bill. It’s small, about 4 x 4 inches. It’s quiet, with fanless operation. It’s secure, thanks to Intel’s vPro technology, which features Intel Active Management Technology (AMT). And Intel NUCs are easy to install, implement and maintain.

New business

SpinetiX’s SMB customers now use the NUC-based setup to attract customers, advertise their wares, entertain both customers and employees, and create new revenue streams.

For an example of the latter, some of SpinetiX’s telecom customers can now offer their business customers digital signage as a service (DSaaS). The combo of Intel NUC hardware and SpinetiX’s cloud-based application and digital-signage OS keeps it simple.

Learn more about SinetiX and Intel NUC. To download the 3-page case study, click the PDF link below:

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In the Zone

In K-12 EdTech, it’s Chromebooks for the win

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 07/06/2021
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The pandemic has transformed the K-12 EdTech market, probably forever. One winner, at least in the short-term, has been the Chromebook. And one surprising loser has been Apple.

According to recent figures from market watcher Canalys, Apple’s share of the U.S. PC market declined in this year’s first quarter to 19.5%, down from 25% in the year-earlier quarter. That also had Apple losing its position as the country’s top PC vendor by shipments.

HP, on the other hand, gained market share in Q1, rising from 16.4% share a year ago to 21.1% now, Canalys says. That increase was driven in part by strong demand for Chromebooks. And many of those Chromebooks were bought by schools.

Chromebooks rising

The overall Chromebook market is booming. Shipments in the U.S. rose nearly 550% in the first quarter, according to Canalys. The U.S. market leaders for Chromebooks are now HP (44% market share), Lenovo (23%); Samsung (12%); Dell (9%); Acer (also 9%); and Asus (4%).

HP Pro c640 Chromebooks

HP Chromebook: the U.S. market leader

You can expect this situation to continue for some time. “There is no return to normal for education,” says Ishan Dutt, a senior analyst at Canalys.

Dutt expects strong demand for Chromebooks for years to come. What’s more, the growing installed base of these devices should also spur high demand for upgrades and tech support.

“Educational institutions, teachers and parents have made investments in digital curricula and processes that they will not want to abandon,” Dutt adds.

Learn to win

Want to get in on the Chromebook K-12 excitement, but lack the needed skills and knowledge? No worries. Intel has your back with a new training course:

Winning Against Apple in U.S. K-12 Education

Teachers and students need devices that meet the demands of modern learning. Take a deep dive into the pros and cons of different education device options, considering their advantages and their limitations.

In this 20-minute course, you’ll learn how to address Apple options, including iPads and M1-based MacBooks. You’ll also learn to promote Intel-powered Chromebooks and PCs as the right choice for 21st century learning environments.

This Intel training course is free to all members of the new Intel Partner Alliance. Not yet a member? Activate your membership or join now.

 

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