Embedded community rallies at pc104.org

Today’s world is plagued by the compulsion to obtain short-term savings at the expense of long-term value. This often leads to solutions that look good at face value, but when you get down to the details, problems arise. This usually occurs only after the project is well under way and sunk costs are high.

So what are OEMs to do? Today’s technologies are often complex and sometimes fleeting. To minimize risk, it is critical that project designers start with specifications that have undergone rigorous development and debate.

This is where the PC/104 Embedded Consortium shines and why its PC/104, PC/104-Plus, PCI-104, EPIC, and EBX specifications have been so successful in withstanding the test of time. And with the newly published PCI/104-Express - which has as its backbone the PCI Express bus and spans over the 104, EPIC, and EBX form factors - current and future designers can continue to leverage the vast PC industry technology base.

As with the Consortium’s other specifications, PCI/104-Express allows OEMs to standardize around one architecture that has all the necessary interchangeable components for both simple and complex systems now and in the future.

PCI/104-Express was the result of 22 of the 68 (and growing) Consortium members coming together in the Technical Committee to create a solution for stackable PCI Express that not only addresses what is happening in the industry today but also what could happen tomorrow. This group consists of individuals and companies with inside knowledge of chip vendor roadmaps, along with expertise in manufacturing techniques, board layouts, and signal integrity and vast knowledge of embedded trends. (Editor’s note: See page 32 for an article on PCI/104-Express penned by one of these insiders.)

But having technology is not enough. Designers must be able to easily find products and information about the technology. With that goal in mind, the Consortium completely restructured its website to give members, designers, and OEMs access to a wealth of information. The end result went live April 15 and has received rave reviews thus far.

The new website is a portal to the expansive, unified PC/104 community. This website provides users with official up-to-date specifications and opportunities to develop first-order solutions to their requirements. All levels of the embedded community can now benefit from this easy-to-use resource. Members can directly update product offering information. Component manufacturers can list products that target the PC/104 industry. Board-level manufacturers can obtain information on current specifications and see which components are being targeted for the long term. OEMs can find products and manufacturers based on the PC/104, EBX, and EPIC architectures. It’s a one-stop resource for the embedded market at all levels.

Already hundreds of product listings have been uploaded to the new website spanning more than 55 main and subcategories:

And more are being added all the time. Need I say more?


  • CPU or SBC, DSP, coprocessors

Data acquisition

  • Analog I/O, digital I/O

Industrial I/O

  • Load cell, motor controller, synchro, resolver, LVDT, encoder, optocoupled I/O

Bus interfaces

  • Avionics bus interfaces

Human interfaces

  • Display interfaces, frame grabbers, video processors, MPEG, touch interfaces, keypad and keyboard interfaces, sound and speech


  • Modem or fax, network interfaces, serial I/O, USB, FireWire, cellular phone, GPS

Mass storage

  • Floppy and hard disk, PCMCIA, solid-state disk


  • Power supply, uninterruptible power supply


  • Commercial, rugged, industrial


  • Operating system and BIOS, drivers, software development tools


  • Bus connectors, I/O connectors

ICs and devices

  • Processors, chipsets, disk storage

Hardware and miscellaneous

  • Prototyping modules and development stations, bus adapter boards and cables, other form factors with PC/104 interfaces

PC/104 Embedded Consortium