Intel is starting to deliver on its vision of x86-powered modem/routers in the home , as its Wind River subsidiary releases a server dedicated to delivery of functions to virtual customer premises equipment (CPE).
The new offering is aimed at telcos, who for years have struggled to get customers to buy more than carriage. Network function virtualisation (NFV) is advanced as telcos' great hope, as it is touted a simplifying the work required to deliver services to customers. Today, for example, an internet service provider trying to up-sell subscribers with a digital video recorder (DVR) probably has to ship them a device. NFV imagines that DVR being virtualised. That could take place in a carrier's network with the DVR interface consumed through a web page, or the DVR app could run on the CPE – the modem/router we all need to connect to the Net – and rely on local storage. Users could download a DVR VM, point a smart TV at the CPE's IP address, plug in a USB disk and start recording.
Most CPE devices are wimpy and less-than-conducive to running apps. But Chipzilla has acquired in CPE-makers and now offers x86-powered CPE boxen. Intel has also invested heavily in OpenStack, which is no slouch at spawning and managing virtual machines. Wind River lives to provide very high reliability kit.
The subsidiary has now made a pre-Mobile World Congress play for telcos' attention with its new “Titanium Server CPE”, a device aimed at delivering network functions to CPE devices.
Details are sketchy, but Wind River says OpenStack and the KVM hypervisor are key parts of the product, which also possesses “Bulk provisioning and automated deployment capabilities.”
Other vendors are racing to develop NFV products and win carrier customers. If Chipzilla has its way, we'll be seeing Intel Inside all over the house, even if Wind River scores the kudos in carriers' data centres. ®