Intel’s new Innovation Engine

Last week at IDF, a few UEFI Forum ecosystem vendors announced support for Intel’s new Innovation Engine (IE). But I still don’t know what it is. All I know so far is that the “Innovation Engine is a small Intel(R) architecture processor and I/O sub-system that will be embedded into future Intel data center platforms“, and that it’s roughly like an integrated service process or base board management controller (BMC). I presume everyone from Intel is taking post-IDF “comp-time” Summer vacation, and haven’t uploaded the IE data sheets to yet. 😦 So far, this is all I can find is this blog post by Jesse Schrater from last week:

Intel’s New Innovation Engine Enables Differentiated Firmware

Historically, platform embedded firmware limits the ways system-builders can customize, innovate, and differentiate their offerings. Today, Intel is streamlining the route for implementing new features with the creation of an “open engine” for system-builders to run firmware of their own creation or choosing.
    This important advance in platform architecture is known as the Innovation Engine. It was introduced this week at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
    The Innovation Engine is a small Intel® architecture processor and I/O sub-system that will be embedded into future Intel data center platforms. The Innovation Engine enables system builders to create their own unique, differentiating firmware for server, storage, and networking markets.
    Some possible uses include hosting lightweight manageability features in order to reduce overall system cost, improving server performance by offloading BIOS and BMC routines, or augmenting the Intel® Management Engine for such things as telemetry and trusted boot.
    These are just a few of the countless possibilities for the use of this new path into the heart of Intel processors. Truthfully, the uses for the Innovation Engine are limited only by the feature’s capability framework and the developer’s imagination.
    It’s worth noting that the Innovation Engine is reserved for system-builder’s code, and not Intel firmware. Intel supplies only the hardware, and the system builder can tailor things from there. And as for security, the Innovation Engine code is cryptographically bound to the system-builder. Code not authenticated by the system-builder will not load.
    As the name suggests, the Innovation Engine will drive a lot of great benefits for OEMs and, ultimately, end users. This embedded core in future Intel processors will foster creativity, innovation, and differentiation, while creating a simplified path for system-builders implementing new features and enabling full customer visibility into code and engine behavior.

Read the full blog post here:

Looking forward to some actual specs… Wondering if ‘open engine’ may imply Open Hardware, or at least Open Source code to interface with device. 🙂

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