PC/104 - the expandable embedded form factor for Planet Earth

Writing from my room across the street from the Nuremberg Messe in Germany where the annual Embedded World trade show is about to begin, I am reflecting on how PC/104 has demonstrated itself as a successful solution for embedded systems. Although PC/104 was heavily concentrated in North America when first introduced, word of its proven value spread around the world, and more than 100 computer board vendors in all continents eventually adopted it. Dozens of vendors at Embedded World are displaying PC/104 solutions using the widest range of processors, I/O, and packaging.

In other news, the PC/104 Embedded Consortium recently concluded a two-day meeting to discuss strategy as well as internal operations issues. The hot topic of the day was (and is) how to incorporate the PCI Express (PCIe) bus into the mix with a common solution that gives clear direction to vendors and customers, uniting the market behind a single format. Our goal is to ensure that the final solution provides the features and benefits synonymous with PC/104: compatibility across a wide range of vendors and products, ruggedness, and longevity. I’m glad to say that substantial progress is being made in this direction, and the results will be worth waiting for. We will not make any stackable computer before its time.

Users of existing PC/104 and PC/104-Plus technology should not worry that these formats will disappear with the introduction of a PCIe solution. PC/104 vendors are still introducing CPU and I/O boards based on these formats, and the underlying technology is expected to be available for a long time. The PC/104 Consortium’s members are committed to the maintenance and support of these formats for many years into the future. That’s why we’ve come to Nuremberg with a booth at Embedded World for the second year in a row – to tell the story of PC/104.

[Editor’s note: To catch up on other developments related to integrating PCIe into PC/104, see the European Technology column on page 12 and the Technology Feature from Advanced Digital Logic on page 26.]

To further illustrate the global nature of the PC/104 market, I invited two of the PC/104 Embedded Consortium’s regional vice presidents to present their comments and address the market from the perspective of their regions: