Embedded marketplace embraces PCI/104-Express

Building on its 17-year heritage, the PC/104 Consortium is once again getting the worldwide embedded community up and running with the latest in its stackable PC/104 specifications: PCI/104-Express, PCIe/104, EPIC Express, and EBX Express. This results in a long-term, interoperable, solutions-based family of five bus configurations: PC/104 (ISA only), PC/104-Plus (ISA and PCI), PCI-104 (PCI only), PCI/104-Express (PCI and PCIe), and PCIe/104 (PCIe only) plus three form factors: 104, EPIC, and EBX with 104 expandability (see Figure 1).

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Figure 1: The PC/104 Consortium specifies five bus types and three form factors.
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)

Vendors have already brought to market PCI/104-Express, PCIe/104, EPIC Express, and EBX Express modules in the form of SBCs, CPUs, serial ports, Gigabit Ethernet ports, frame grabbers, analog and digital I/O, power supplies, bridge cards, PCIe over cables, SATA, FireWire, video, ExpressCard, MiniCard adapters, PCIe slot card adapters, and others – with more to come.

Key to their quick adoption was the PC/104 Consortium's maintenance of the long-standing tenets of its PC/104 architecture: focus on mainstream PC expansion buses (ISA, PCI, and PCIe), interoperability across specifications, consistent add-on module construction, either-direction stackability, rugged connector design, and paths for future technology growth.

The focus on mainstream expansion buses allows users to leverage the vast array of available standard and custom chip devices as well as all of the mainstream software developments and operating system device recognition libraries. It also helps reduce incompatibilities between multiple vendor products, custom software anomalies, and long-term risks of single vendor dependencies.

In addition, by not losing sight of mechanical consistency, the PC/104 Consortium's family of specifications allows modules based on different bus configurations to stack together, giving users maximum leverage on the vast market of already available modules (see Figure 2).

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Figure 2: From top to bottom, the left module stack consists of PCIe/104, PCIe/104, PCI/104-Express, PCI/104-Express, PCI-104, and PC/104-Plus. The right module stack consists of PCI/104-Express, PC/104-Plus, and PC/104.
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)

In the end, users are left with a large breadth and depth of consistent products and applications as well as quick time-to-market experiences.

Visit the PC/104 Consortium's website at www.pc104.org to find more information on its specifications, the key players in the PC/104 market and their products, and up-to-date PC/104 news and activities.