PC/104 architecture: module, company, and marketplace compatibility

The physical benefits of the are promoted often. If you are a frequent reader, then you know these benefits well: rugged stackable , a small footprint with corner mounting holes, commercial off-the-shelf () availability, and interoperability. Many of the products on the market are also targeted for high-vibration and extended-temperature environments.

The interoperable benefits of PC/104 can be viewed through a few different lenses. Through any one of them, this much is clear: Compatibility is inherent to PC/104. Compatibility happens at the board level, at the company level, and on the industry level as well.

Board-level compatibility

With PC/104, no one manufacturer has to be “all things to all customers”; this stance is evident by the variety of business models in the membership. Some members have a broad cross-section of products ranging from single board computers, to power supplies, to a variety of add-in cards. Other member companies focus on advancing and exploiting specific technologies and interfaces such as video, CAN bus, serial adapters, or . Many Consortium members also produce enclosures and system-level products based on their PC/104 technology. The point is, there is a fantastic PC/104 ecosystem that works together. Outside system integrators and end users have many choices when they are building their . On the design and manufacturing end of things, this encourages innovation and healthy competition to produce the best products on the market.

Company compatibility

Deployed systems implementing PC/104 can include products from more than one manufacturer, as the carefully constructed PC/104 standards ensure that the boards will work together. PC/104 manufacturers who provide system-level designs work with other PC/104 manufacturers when specific application needs cannot be met in-house. In addition, technical support staff from the PC/104 member companies tend to become familiar with various products from other vendors and how to make everything work seamlessly. Result: In the world of PC/104, cross-vendor compatibility is embraced, improved upon, and leveraged.

Marketplace compatibility

PC/104 is designed into a huge variety of systems and payloads worldwide, from deep sea to space and everywhere in between. Unmanned applications, surveillance, security, transportation, medical, gaming, scientific research – all of these areas (not to mention many more) are leveraging PC/104. Designers might configure a standalone stack of PC/104 modules or a system-level solution with an enclosure and .

It’s a bit less obvious when designers use PC/104 in innovative or atypical ways, but it happens all the time. Visit any number of vertical industry tradeshows and look for PC/104. When exhibitors are generous enough to open hatches, show cross-sections, or share system-level details, PC/104 can often be found as part of a control unit, as a data-collection node, or as an element in a robust communication network. PC/104 finds itself on custom baseboards, paired with COM modules, augmented by PCIe mini cards, and even used as a kind of macrocomponent on larger form factors.

A solution for you

The PC/104 Consortium members offer hundreds of products, tools, and services. Whether you like to build your own systems from scratch, need a robust platform for your proprietary software, or looking for a full-on turnkey solution, think of the PC/104 Consortium’s membership as your preferred partners. The PC/104 marketplace is vast, and it’s waiting for you.

Quick note to PC/104 Consortium members: Our Technical Committee is working within itself – and soliciting support from major industry players – to establish a library of reference designs for use by our members. We are excited about the project and will keep you posted on the progress.

For more information visit the PC/104 Consortium website at www.pc104.org.