PC/104 Embedded Consortium, a primer

Who we are
The PC/104 Embedded Consortium is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization of about 100 companies. Established in 1992, our original objective was to provide member companies with an open standard that captured the power and flexibility of a desktop PC in a size ideally suited for embedded applications. The result was the PC/104 specification – a robust standard for embedded PCs that offers full hardware and software compatibility with the standard PC/XT and PC/AT architectures in an ultra-compact (3.6" x 3.8"), self-stacking, modular format.

Over the course of years the Consortium has expanded the standards governed to meet end-user demand and incorporate new technologies. We now govern four unique standards:

  • PC/104
  • PC/104-Plus
  • PCI-104
  • EBX

PC/104 supports 8- and 16-bit cards, PC/104-Plus added 32-bit PCI functionality to the basic architecture, and PCI-104 (approved in 2003) defines a PCI-only version of PC/104. The EBX specification added a larger size footprint (measuring 5.75" x 8.00") while continuing to support PC/104, PC/104-Plus, and PCI-104 expansion modules. Our focus will continue to broaden as we consider new technologies and explore alternative small form factors suited to our mission.

Mission statement
Maximize the global use of PC architecture in embedded applications.

Vision statement
Create, maintain, and distribute standards to expand the use of PC technology in embedded products.

Benefits of membership
Any interested company or individual can join the Consortium. Manufacturers, suppliers, and end users of PC/104, EBX or other small form factor products are encouraged to join the PC/104 Embedded Consortium and actively participate in charting our future. The Consortium has maintained a flexible and accessible dues structure and offers several levels of membership. Participants help shape the future of embedded market standards and gain early access to new developments in the industry. Membership has proven an effective way to reach end users of embedded technology. In addition, members enjoy recognition as major players in the embedded market by virtue of their participation.

Organizational structure
The Consortium is based in San Francisco, California and is led by a group of directors appointed, as it were, by their participation at the Executive level. Beyond Executive, there are three membership levels with differing dues structures, thereby enabling participation from both small and large companies. The result is wide participation from a broad cross-section of the embedded marketplace.

The Consortium meets monthly to create policies, to explore new opportunities, and to review progress. Our Technical subcommittee evaluates new developments impacting our specification, considers new form factors that might be appropriately governed by the Consortium, and reviews the suitability of incorporating new technologies into platforms under our control. Among other things, the Technical subcommittee is reviewing the challenges associated with implementing high-speed, switched fabric architectures on the PC/104 footprint.

Our PR committee is engaged in public relations activities on behalf of the Consortium. This committee promotes our technologies at trade shows, in press releases, through Design Contests, via the web, and by regular e-mail newsletters to members and end users.

Our future
The Consortium is committed to the development of open standards and established specifications. We are in the process of establishing an updated technological roadmap and charting our course for the future. Member and end user input on addressing new opportunities and the challenges ahead is encouraged and should be sent to the Consortium’s office.