CeBIT 2014: Intel SmartGrid – energy of the future

| March 18, 2014

On the need to conserve, and wisely use energy does not tell us the first year, but not on all these exhortations are. Is it time to move from words to deeds? Intel is at CeBIT 2014 held a short presentation on their development and experiments in this area. And, according to the story, one European country will be a very bright and warm energy future.
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Story began, as usual, from afar – with the most common words how vital to conserve energy, how to take care of nature, how it is advantageous from the point of view of the economy, well, stuff like that. Obligatory point of the program – data security and working with Big Data. In general, things are quite important and obvious. And what is, strictly speaking, the problem? The problem is that there are still many countries are not able to efficiently use electricity. And it’s not in any energy saving lamps and other pieces. The problem on a completely different level – no one knows when, where and how much energy you will need to prepare for the required loads. In the total absence of at least some planning is hard to believe, but the example of Germany, where the experiment is conducted Intel, is easy to see that things are not so good. About 10% percent of the electricity generated is in reserve – contingency bursts of energy.

In fact, the peaks do not occur more than four days a year. On the other hand, in Germany there are many other sources of energy than conventional power plants, which are relatively easy to control the power output – to pour coal at the right time or, conversely, to disable a couple of turbines. We are talking about windmills and solar (1.3 million units), which predict the exact amount of energy produced at least a few months in advance is impossible. Not yet learned to do such precise and long weather forecasts, because of which, incidentally, is also planning on spending very difficult to do. Thus now renewable generating 23% of the total energy, and by 2030 it is planned to increase this figure to 35%.

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Increase in the share of renewable energy sources, Germany (Source: EEBus)

More than half of these sources are privately owned. Ideal variant of modern power system, which will be implemented in the future – it is a fully distributed system in which each node is both a generator and consumer, and maybe even a little store electricity. Such a system should automatically and in real time to assess the current energy needs and self-distribute it among consumers. Sounds – at first glance – pretty simple, but to the creation of such a structure faces many obstacles. In the same Germany has about a million local substations, which reduce the voltage to the usual 220 and send energy to final consumers. In residential areas, each such substation serves an average of 100-150 customers.

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Sensors in each dwelling lot and each should promptly receive data (Source: EEBus)

Arithmetic is simple – we get a huge number of the counters, which must be read remotely in real time and on the basis of these data to construct forecasts. But each customer has at least 10-15 appliances, which also would be nice to manage. For example, the non-critical tasks such as laundry transferred to a time when the available energy from renewable sources, or just run them when electricity is cheaper. Or prohibit the inclusion of equipment that at startup requires a lot of energy, “peak hours.” Okay, okay, let’s not stoop to the level of individual devices. Let care about their work rests with the end user. But there is another important factor – the power system a country can not exist in a kind of enclosed space. She somehow interacts with the networks of neighboring countries, and in general is part of a pan-European grid.

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Should look something like this interaction devices in the “smart home” version EEBus

Why, in fact, it took so long and slightly lengthy entry? Well, at least to understand the scale of the problem and try to figure out how to solve it. However, we have something just on the solution should not think. This has long been engaged in the company Intel, and not only it. This is the so-called Smart Grids . Simple and short definition of the term seems to be no, but so hard to guess what he means.Let denote the Smart Grid as a “smart grid.” The concept of Smart Grid is not there yesterday, about such pieces began to think in the last century, but, as is usually the case, every major energy company to develop and test a slightly different solution. And now came the moment when it became clear that all this joy should be standardized, wash, comb and somehow lead to a common mind. Naturally, the “pull” project to create a Smart Grid, even within one country only by large players. In Germany, such a player has become Intel , which together with its partners to offer solutions for virtually every stage and level of the power system created a new generation.

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Intel vice president and head of the company in EMEA Christian Morales (Christian Morales)

And of course, Intel did not fail to share the results of their activities within a small press conference at CeBIT 2014. Leading the event was Vice President and CEO, EMEA Christian Morales (Christian Morales), who told about the solutions for Intel Smart Grid. Now runs a little experiment – on two substations of Westfalen Weser Energie mounted industrial PC with CPU Intel Core i5, which collect data from sensors on the current state of the substation, and it is about 200 different parameters, and transmit them to the SCADA-system. The narrator mentioned that the choice fell on the Core i5 for the simple reason that these CPU technology available Intel Active Management Technology ( AMT ) for remote control of your PC and fix it in the event of any problems. Reasonable decision, as engineers attend substation every few years, and then only for a routine inspection, or in emergency situations. However, PC substation – it’s just an intermediary between clients and data center energy company, which unites all the data from substations, power consumers or even individual devices in the “smart home”.

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Here it is, the Internet of Things (Source: EEBus)

Here, as usual, pops fashionable phrase Big Data, ie work with large volumes of data processing and decision-making based on the results of the final analysis. Well, since we are talking about server technology, it was impossible not to recall the recently upgraded processors Intel Xeon E7 v2 IvyTown. Not to go once more into the details, let us quote a piece of the story about these CPU: «If we compare with the previous generation Xeon processors, the average speed has doubled <…> Chips Xeon E7 v2 focused primarily on high-performance servers <…> for support the work volume databases and enterprise resource planning. ”

At the opposite end of all this “smart” chains are STBs. Of course, in this sector, Intel also have ready-made solutions. In particular, the audience was shown a router Hitron CGN3 , which is used in an experiment with Westfalen Weser Energie. This is not entirely new – device was announced over a year ago. However, here it is almost unknown, as is used to connect to the DOCSIS-networks. It is based on a series of SoC Puma 6MG based on the Atom processor with a frequency of 1.2 GHz, and his shoulders heaved more than just access to the Internet, but also multimedia features, and work with the TV, and security, and, of course, control appliances in the house. Here passing reference to support VT-x , and radio interfaces for connection to sensors, apparently realized through additional adapters.

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Hitron CGN3 – user equipment for “smart home”

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For industrial applications, in which the irrational use of energy could lead to a tidy sum, Intel is also a solution. At the press conference showed a prototype gateway based on chipset Intel Quark SoC X1000 (400 MHz). Yes, the same one that is used in the sensational recently micro PCs Edison , which fits into a standard-SD-card, and Arduino-compatible board Galileo . The prototype differs from household decisions that he has RS232 and RS485 (widely used in the industry), as well as some analog interface, too, apparently, used to connect the managed gateway equipment. In addition, the board designated as CrossHill, have removable module Wi-Fi Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 and a 3G-modem Telit HE910 . However, they are both stuck in the slots Mini PCI-E, so that they can be easily changed to something else. (As an experiment similar equipment already installed in one of the factories DePuy Synthes, which has proven useful – “total [energy] efficiency has improved by 25%,” which would in this case, whatever that means.)

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A prototype device to control “smart factory”

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Inside – a brand new SoC Intel Quark X1000

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Finally, the last, but they are not less important aspect that was raised in the speech – is the question of computer security. All elements of the Smart Grid somehow combined into a single network. In the future we are likely to somehow come to the Internet of Things, when any device in your home will be, for example, IPv6-address. At least one must have a secure channel and the software on the data path from the home gateway to the data center. Once again to explain the importance of the protection of Smart Grid is not necessary – in memory still fresh impressions of the results of sabotage worm Stuxnet and Duqu. Well, and this is the answer from Intel – virtualization to isolate the individual parts software and embedded solutions and McAfee WindRiver. However, before we implement something, we must first establish standards for hardware and software. It is engaged in this program participants EEBus , which recently joined Intel. If all tasks get time to realize, that Germany seems to be waiting a very bright and warm energy future. But whether it will be those with us?

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Category: Hardware, Technology

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