Industrial PC

This pages describes technologies used in industrial PCs and special PCs made for special applications. It is PC hardware which looks like quite different from the typical PC on your desk or your laptop computer, but is very similar to normal office PC on software viewpoint.

General information

Reliabity and availability

  • Sense of self: enabling systems to monitor???and control???their environment - There's nothing quite like having to explain to your boss that your entire network is down because a $12 fan died. Proper management of the enclosure environment lets you pre-empt such disastrous and embarrassing failures. The telecomm industry already demands high availability, and if data communications wants to compete for voice and video services, it needs to aim for a similar standard. To achieve efficient high availability, however, you need to monitor a system to identify potential failures before they happen and actively prevent them. Good system monitoring occurs on many levels.    Rate this link
  • High-availability Internet servers: Linux clustering on a CompactPCI platform - Customer demand for increased bandwidth with minimum downtime has forced network service providers to specify server systems with high-availability features. CompactPCI hardware supporting multiprocessor Linux clusters is one way to keep up with this demand    Rate this link
  • Compute farms: the new data centers - Today's CPUs are not powerful enough to support the development of their successors. Dynamically allocated computing power keeps projects on time and fosters quality.    Rate this link

General articles

Industrial PC formats and buses


    PC/104 is an embedded PC hardware system where the whole computer system is built by stacking postcard size PC motherboard and interface cards on top of each other. Original PC/104 standard supports ISA bus architechture for the cards. Newer PC/104+ standard has added PCI bus support for newer PC/104+ systems.

Mezzanine technology

Today there is a clear tendency to buy hardware instead of making it. There is no best mezzanine technology, the different technologies are complementary. They target different applications. Mezzanine technology may help in solving this problem. First decide on the processor to be used, then find a mezzanine carrier board with or without system bus interface and finally, personalise the board by adding one or more mezzanines. By buying the carrier and the mezzanine boards or by making some mezzanine boards yourself you will be quicker in the market with a new design and that is vitally important today.


    PMC is short for PCI Mezzanine Card. It is a postcard size small module which can be plugged to industrial PC motherboard PMC interface connector or to external carrier card. PMC card carry PCI bus signals in tiny connectors.

    If you need high performance and/or intelligent I/O then PMC-modules are a good choise. PMC modules use PCI components which are becomign incresingly popular. If you need high performance and/or intelligent I/O then PMC-modules are a good choise.

    PC MIP

    The PC MIP module bus to the carrier board is largely based on the PCI standard. The electrical and logical layers are the same as those defined by the PCI standard. The PC MIP standard itself is still under development by the ANSI/VITA task group VITA-29. Th PC MIP exists in two widths: single and double. The single form factor is 47 x 90 mm (42.3 cm2), and the double is 94 x 90 mm (84.6 cm2). It comes in two flavours: Type I (without front bezel I/O) and Type II (which is 9 mm longer and with front bezel I/O). The module can have components on both sides, and the manufacturer may choose on which side to put the highest components. The I/O connector to the carrier board is a 50 pin one.

    PC MIP tries to combine best of the two worlds: it has almost the same surface as the IP-module and has high performance PCI bus in it. PC MIP consolidates the presently used PCI. PC MIP is more standardised than PMC, and has a smaller surface (lower production cost) it will become a major competitor with PMC.


    The M-Module Specification was approved on May 20, 1997 as an American National Standard and will be known as ANSI/VITA 12-1996, M-Module Specification. M-Modules exist in three sizes: single, double and even triple size. The single size measures 148.3 x 52.9 mm (78.5 cm2), the double 148.3 x 106.2 mm (157.5 cm2), and the triple 148.3 x 159.6 mm (236.5 cm2). Components on M-Modules can have a maximum height of 10.5 mm (for about 60% of surface) and 5.25 mm (40%). The single size M-Modules uses a 40-pin (optional 60-pin: for MA-Modules) connector for interfacing with the carrier board, and a 24 pin I/O connector (I/O via the carrier board). M-Modules may also have front bezel I/O.

    The M-Module bus simple so M-module development is also easy and cheap. The PCB surface, although larger than the IP, is still small. An advantage over IP modules, is the larger potential component surface and height. There exist an option for interconnect bus between different M-modules. M-Modules are well suited for non-intelligent I/O. Nevertheless, M-Modules are less standardised and less available than IP modules.

    IP (IndustryPack)

    IP is the abbreviation of "Industry Pack". The standard was prepared by VSO (VITA Standards Organisation) and SBS GreenSpring Modular I/O. The single size IP-module uses two 50-pin connectors: one for interfacing with the carrier board and one to interface with the external world (I/O via the carrier board). The single size module measures 1.8 x 3.9 inch (45.3 cm2), the double 3.6 x 3.9 inch (90.6 cm2). Components on an IP-module can have a maximum height of 0.29 inch (7.4 mm). IP modules can be connected to VME or ISA bus using special IP module carrier cards.

    IP module bus is simple, so it is easy and cheap to develop an IP module. As the PCB surface is small, also the production costs are limited. IP modules have a low performance interface, and as IP has only slave possibilities it is intended to be used more as a simple I/O extension. IP-module is well suited for a large number of non-intelligent I/O applications, which do not require high performance. They are cheap and widely available.

Special embedded PC project pages

Related pages

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