PC/104: the smart play
Is the blue blazer timeless? That’s what I hear. What about PC/104? Absolutely. In the embedded market space, longevity is key. Embedded systems go through rigorous testing and qualification; the systems need to last. While new form factors and specifications sprout up continually, PC/104 is a solid, time-tested architecture that can be trusted in applications that require reliability, wide industry support, flexibility, and long-term sustainability. Systems built with the PC/104 stacking architecture are versatile. Based on their configuration, they can be tailored for any number of transportation, industrial, defense, mining, gaming, and aerospace needs.
“A LEGO brick is not particularly exciting.”
Stackable things are great, but not especially noteworthy. Take LEGO bricks, for example. While the toy building bricks click together masterfully, it’s really the things that can be created with those bricks – that’s what becomes exciting and beautiful. Likewise, with PC/104 it’s difficult to speak at length about the physical aspects: the compact footprint, the corner mounting holes, the robust self-stacking bus connectors. These are all important hallmarks of the form factor. However, it’s the embedded systems that can be achieved using the technology – that’s the real benefit and beauty of PC/104. Continually growing, always with an eye toward the next generation while still supporting legacy infrastructure – that’s PC/104.
“Tom Hanks was good then, and he’s even better now.”
Back when PC/104 was first introduced, it garnered a lot of attention and many early adopters. A vibrant ecosystem grew based on the stackable ISA bus. After that came the stackable PCI bus. Most recently, the high-speed, self-stacking PCI Express bus has expanded the capabilities of what PC/104 can accomplish in small spaces. Because of the form factor’s modularity and the innovative, adaptive nature of the companies that design and build to the PC/104 specifications, today’s PC/104-based products are better than ever. As new technologies come to the fore, PC/104 manufacturers adopt and integrate. In this way, PC/104 continues to play essential roles in the very latest embedded computing systems.
“Nothing takes the place of quality ingredients.”
If one chooses to design with the right form factor, the right architecture, it lays the framework for an embedded system that more than meets application needs. Self-stacking buses, a wide array of multicore processors, and leading-edge I/O peripherals afford rapid uptime – critical for quickly changing landscapes such as those in IoT [Internet of Things], M2M [machine to machine], and industrial embedded computing – while keeping costs relatively low. PC/104, with its well-known, comprehensive evolutionary path, protects designers from choosing a specification that’s here today and gone tomorrow.
“Room for one more?”
Systems change. Requirements change. Component availability changes. Technology advances. How does one design a system that has staying power? How does one protect against obsolescence? By adopting a modular architecture that anticipates change. PC/104 does just that: Its flexibility and ability to bring together diverse I/O peripherals into a single system give PC/104-based systems clear advantages.
“See you tomorrow.”
PC/104 will continue to be vibrant in the coming years because the companies who build to the spec continue to innovate. It’s an ecosystem full of trailblazing industry leaders who have built embedded systems for decades. They know customer pain points. They avoid design pitfalls. They anticipate end-of-life issues. They plan for long life cycles and long-term customer support. They build products that combat challenging environmental situations while also battling the issues of procurement and ever-changing technology.
If your calendar says February 2018, head to Nuremberg, Germany to see exhibits from many of the PC/104 member-companies who are showing at embedded world (Feb. 27 to March 1). If you manufacture embedded hardware, think about spinning your technology onto PC/104. Our specifications are free to download at www.pc104.org.