French IT giant Atos is the latest to jump into the edge computing business with a small device called BullSequana Edge. Unlike devices from its competitors that are the size of a shipping container, including those from Vapor IO and Schneider Electronics, Atos' edge device can sit in a closet.

Atos says the device uses artificial intelligence (AI) applications to offer fast response times that are needed in areas such as manufacturing 4.0, autonomous vehicles, healthcare and retail/airport security – where data needs to be processed and analyzed at the edge in real time.

[ Also see: What is edge computing? and How edge networking and IoT will reshape data centers.]

The BullSequana Edge can be purchased as standalone infrastructure or bundled with Atos’ software edge software, and that software is pretty impressive. Atos says the BullSequana Edge supports three main categories of use cases:

  • AI: Atos Edge Computer Vision software for surveillance cameras provide advanced extraction and analysis of features such as people, faces, emotions, and behaviors so that automatic actions can be carried out based on that analysis.
  • Big data: Atos Edge Data Analytics enables organizations to improve their business models with predictive and prescriptive solutions. It utilizes data lake capabilities to make data trustworthy and useable.
  • Containers: Atos Edge Data Container (EDC) is an all-in-one container solution that is ready to run at the edge and serves as a decentralized IT system that can run autonomously in non-data center environments with no need for local on-site operation.

Because of its small size, the BullSequana Edge doesn’t pack a lot of processing power. It comes with a 16-core Intel Xeon CPU and can hold up to two Nvidia Tesla T4 GPUs or optional FPGAs. Atos says that is enough to handle the inference of complex AI models with low latency at the edge.

Because it handles sensitive data, BullSequana Edge also comes with an intrusion sensor that will disable the machine in case of physical attacks.

Most edge devices are placed near cell towers, but since the edge system can be placed anywhere, it can communicate via radio, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), or Wi-Fi.

Atos may not be a household name in the U.S., but it’s on par with IBM in Europe, having acquired IT giants Bull SA, Xerox IT Outsourcing, and Siemens IT all in this past decade.

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