Bringing the Internet back home

IBM and National Semiconductor are creating a complete development platform for home gateways, which will enable Internet access throughout the home.

IBM and National Semiconductor are creating a complete development platform for home gateways, which will enable Internet access throughout the home and remote management of common household appliances such as lights, security systems, utility meters, air conditioners and entertainment systems.

The joint technology combines National’s Internet appliance development platform, featuring its Geode GX1 processor, and IBM’s WebSphere embedded software. Availability is set for August.

China’s largest white goods manufacturer, Shanghai General Electronics Group (SGEG), and CP Technology, a Taiwan-based company specialising in home technology, have already committed to using IBM and National’s joint platform. SGEG will use the platform to develop applications that can remotely monitor and control Web-enabled appliances. CP Technology said it is using the platform to power its new residential service gateway, the Power IA Smarthome UB2100.

‘The residential gateway forms the heart of the home network,’ said Michael Polacek, vice president of the Information Appliance Division at National Semiconductor. ‘It manages the communication to the Internet and within the home network. It is the enabling technology that makes the home of the future possible. Today’s announcement will enable the industry to create flexible yet cost effective residential gateway solutions.’

IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Embedded software is cross-platform, embedded middleware for devices that includes device/content management, connection management, communication, user interfaces, encryption, authentication and message queuing; it is integrated with standards-compliant real-time operating systems, such as QNX Software Systems’ Neutrino. Customisation services are offered to tailor the embedded platform to the requirements of particular devices. In addition, IBM offers server software (WebSphere Everyplace Server 2.1) needed to streamline delivery of Web-based information and applications to devices.

National Semiconductor’s Geode SP4GX10 information appliance development platform features the GX1 processor, a 32-bit Pentium-class x86 processor with MMX support that integrates 2D graphics, a memory controller with 64-bit SDRAM interface, 16KB L1 Cache and PCI bus host controller. Along with the processor, other board-level components include National’s Geode CS5530A I/O companion device, the MacPHYTER 83815 fast Ethernet controller, and various other analog products. The SP4GX10 platform has two PCI slots, two ISA slots, and connectors for serial ports, USB, Ethernet and audio/graphics I/O.