Manageability for Embedded Solutions
Embedded systems have grown into highly dispersed networks of systems. Along with that growth the costs of deploying, administering, and maintaining those systems have increased. To manage these costs, while at the same time increasing reliability and uptime, businesses have begun to leverage remote management techniques designed to simplify deployments and reduce the costs associated with the administration and maintenance of these systems.
Such techniques now enable “blank” systems to be deployed and the software associated with a particular installation installed remotely. Those installed systems can then receive software updates remotely, including application, operating system, and firmware updates.
Remotely accessing enterprise servers and office computers for system health monitoring and maintenance has been a critical function within the IT toolbox for many years. But those same capabilities have largely eluded the embedded systems market because of the high cost of existing solutions and implementing them is considered overly resource intensive in both cost and time.
The “gold standard” for remote systems management is a set of specifications known as the Digital and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH). DASH is very robust – an attribute that makes it appealing for enterprise computing infrastructure. However, existing implementations are over designed and therefore too costly for embedded systems applications, slowing down the adoption of DASH for most embedded applications.
AMD's Support of DASH
AMD has developed various open source development tools for DASH. For information see:
DASH is a comprehensive framework that provides the next generation of standards for secure out-of-band and remote management of systems in multi-vendor, distributed environments and enables the same tools, syntax, semantics, and interfaces to work across a full range of products: traditional desktop systems, mobile and laptop computers, blade PCs, and even embedded systems.
AMD has created an implementation of DASH specifically for embedded platforms that removes the bloat of the costly implementations while retaining the essentials of a compliant DASH implementation. The AMD implementation includes the following essential DASH functions:
- Remote power control - allows remote power-on, power-off, power-cycle, or reset of the system
- Boot control - directs the system to reboot to specified boot device (e.g., PXE, floppy, remote media) The key use cases include:
- remote boot to a deployment OS (such as Windows PE) for system provisioning
- remote boot to a network CD image to update BIOS or firmware or to run diagnostics
- Platform alerts - a console can subscribe to alerts via a WS-eventing protocol. Platform alerts may include temperature alerts, ProcHot, ThermTrip and fan failure,
- Hardware Asset inventory - platform model number, CPU version, BIOS version, memory and other hardware info is available for specific implementation needs
An essential part of any remote management implementation that is supported is the ability to reset, power-up, power-down or power cycle the system from a remote location. Additionally, if the BIOS requires an update, or a new operating system image must be installed, this can be accomplished by leveraging the supported boot control function. Together, these capabilities reduce unscheduled downtime and often eliminate the need of a technician to physically service the system.
DASH Development Tools
AMD has developed various open source development tools for DASH (Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware).