Embedded Boards

Mini-ITX-Micro-ATX-NEEWhat are the pros and cons for Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX for embedded and industrial applications?

For consumer desktop and enterprise applications, it’s almost a no brainer to go for a Micro-ATX or ATX. In embedded applications, things tend to lean more to the Mini-ITX side of things. Let’s take a look at why that may be.

The Case for Mini-ITX

For industrial and embedded applications, this is pretty much the workhorse of the motherboards. They are in the highest demand and as a result there is a large selection to choose from.

Some of the benefits of the Mini-ITX:

  • Higher variety of product
  • Higher demand makes for a longer lifecycle by embedded manufacturers
  • The small form factor is very convenient for a lot of embedded applications
  • Because they are more “strictly embedded” it is easier to find Mini-ITX boards with fanless and rugged specifications.

For more info on Mini-ITX boards, check out our blog on “Selecting a Mini-ITX BoardRead the full article →

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The Typical Embedded Board

When selecting an embedded board to fit a task, or when asked by a customer for an embedded board, 9 times out of 10 it is going to be a Mini-ITX board. There is plenty of reasoning as to why this is the case.

First and foremost is the subject of “real estate”, or space constraints. In many embedded industrial applications there is a limited amount of real estate, and the addition of extraneous size and weight in an embedded system can have a negative impact on the efficiency, feasibility and usability of that industrial design. However, going too small can have the opposite issues of heat and a general lack of onboard functionality. The goal is to have as much functionality as possible, while keeping the “real estate” relatively manageable and the Mini-ITX usually winds up being the best option to achieve that. While the consumer market seems to constantly be pushing things smaller and smaller, the industrial embedded market still seems to have a high demand for what Mini-ITX offers, and that is expected to remain the case, for some time.Industrial mini itx board

This brings us to the second point. Above, we determined that there is a lot of demand for the Mini-ITX. This results in a lot of product variants being available on the market to fill that demand, which draws even more people in to use the Mini-ITX form factor. This creates a sort of a vicious circle, which essentially results in there being an enormous library of boards to choose from, which reduces the chance that you will need to design a custom board or undergo the expense of purchasing expansions that are not already available onboard.

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Pico - ITX  board The Pico-ITX board is a small sized x86 embedded motherboard that is 10 cm by 7.2 cm. This board carries the processor, cache, memory, a variety of video interfaces and several different I/O. These boards were introduced by VIA Technologies in 2007. Developed by VIA to be up to 75% smaller than the previous mini-ITX platform, it is smaller than the mini-ITX and the nano-ITX form factor which drives the ability to deliver embedded system designs that pave the way for compact applications.

What do Pico – ITX boards mean to you?

The Pico – ITX board form factor allows for the development of devices that are smaller, more functional and even lighter than those containing larger embedded boards. As processor technology continues to move forward, we will see these embedded boards with support the new generations of single and multi core processors, which aim to lower TDP, which can be the cause of heat problems and short battery life which can plague smaller systems. This small form factor offers support for connectors to such devices as microSD, external drives and interfaces for WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth. This technology offers the opportunity to deliver more powerful and enhanced compact designs in the fields of infotainment, digital advertising, telephony, security and the ever growing fields surrounding the medical practice and automotive markets. Read the full article →

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Handle It: Wide-Temperature Motherboards and Embedded Computing

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How an Embedded CPU can use the ARM Architecture

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In retrospect, power can be awe-inspiring. When charting the advancement of technology in the last thirty years, the industry has increased processing power, graphical capability, and storage space by at least thirty fold. Size requirements for supercomputers have shrunk to handheld devices, and the modern cellphone can handle just about every function of a full…

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Small in all the Right Ways: The Mini-ITX Motherboard in Industrial Computing

When delving into the computing world, trying to develop an embedded system presents companies with a unique problem when considering which direction to go in with their design. What exactly does the device need to achieve? How can they balance the need for computing power with the machine’s overall cost? The answers to these questions…

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