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Examples of Embedded Computers (Explained)

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Embedded Computers | Embedded PCs | Industrial Embedded Computer Systems

Embedded computer systems are all around us. If you have ever been to a supermarket and noticed kiosk machines along the walls, chances are those kiosks are powered by embedded computers. This post will provide you with everything you need to know about embedded PCs and computers, as well as where you can buy them.

What is an Embedded Computer?

An embedded computer is a specialized computer system that is often characterized as a single system in a bigger machine or system. Embedded computers are used to run specific applications to perform predetermined functions. Embedded computing systems have many of the same parts as regular, consumer-grade desktop computers. Such parts include CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage devices. However, the main differentiator is that embedded systems utilize industrial-grade components that allow systems to withstand harsh operating conditions.

Embedded PCs are all around us; they are in vehicles, interactive kiosk machines, factory automation lines, security and surveillance systems, and many other devices. So, what are embedded computers, how do they work, and what are some examples of embedded computers? We will answer all of these questions in the sections below.

There are two main types of embedded computers, SoC (system-on-chip) embedded PCs where the CPU, GPU, chipset, and I/Os are built onto a single silicon substrate. On the other hand, you have socket embedded computers where components such as the CPU with a dedicated PCH and GPU are installed onto a motherboard for added performance.

Socket PCs tend to be more powerful and more configurable than SoCs. SoCs tend to be low powered for simple, entry-level workloads. Nevertheless, both SoC and Socket PCs are made for the performance of specific industrial workloads, such as industrial automation & control, autonomous vehicles, IoT gateways, medical imaging, kiosk machines, smart vending machines, and digital signage.

system-on-chip-socket-type-cpu

Typically, embedded computers are ruggedly designed and built because they are often deployed in harsh environments, such as outdoor digital signage and factory floors that are debris heavy. So, they must be able to cope with deployment in such challenging environments. As such, most rugged embedded PCs are designed and built to withstand frequent shocks, vibrations, dust, humidity, and extreme temperatures.

Embedded computers can be deployed indoors in room temperature environments, as well as in outdoor environments that experience extreme temperatures, such as environments where the temperature reaches a low of -40⁰C and scorching hot environments where the temperature reaches 85⁰C.

What Are the Main Components of Embedded Computers?

Embedded PCs are made using the following components:

#1 - CPU (Processor)

The main component of embedded computers is the CPU, commonly known as a processor. The CPU is responsible for performing the computational tasks of a computer. When choosing a solution, you should consider the processing power that you require. If you want your system to perform entry-level workloads, you can select a low-powered, efficient SoC solution, such as the Intel® Celeron® J1900, which packs a punch for performing simple workloads. However, if you want the system to perform complex industrial workloads, you should choose a socket solution as they can typically be configured using powerful Intel® Core® i3, i5, and i7 processors. That said, regardless of whether you choose to use an SoC solution or a socket solution, both can be passively cooled, creating a rugged system that’s capable of being deployed in challenging environments.

 intel-cpu-i3-i5-i7

Also, it’s worth noting that OEMs often skimp out on the processor because they want to lower the embedded PC cost; however, underpowering a system will result in sluggish performance, slowing down an organization’s workflow. As such, you should always configure a system with the appropriate CPU. If you need help choosing the ideal CPU for your specific workload, you should contact us and speak to one of our embedded computing professionals, and they will assist you with choosing the best CPU that meets your specific requirements.

#2 - Performance Accelerators That Fuel The Rugged Edge

Here are some performance accelerators that can be added to embedded computers to speed artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL) workloads.

A. GPUs (Graphics Processing Units)

GPUs can be added to embedded PCs to accelerate the performance of some applications. For example, GPUs are capable of accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) workloads because they are capable of processing and manipulating much larger blocks of data than CPUs. Moreover, GPUs are much more efficient than CPUs when performing AI workloads because they have significantly more cores than CPUs, allowing them to perform parallel computations, whereas CPUs are excellent for sequential computations. GPUs are great for autonomous vehicles, medical imaging, vision-based quality assurance, and a variety of other graphic-intensive tasks. Furthermore, embedded solutions deployed at the edge can process mission-critical data in real-time with low-latency since they are deployed at the edge, close to the source of data generation.

B. VPUs (Vision Processing Units)

Also, VPUs can be added to embedded computers to accelerate machine vision, machine learning, facial and object recognition, AI applications, and high-end image processing applications. VPUs work by taking on workloads that would typically be performed by the processor and performing them on the vision processing unit (VPU) itself, all while using less power than a GPU would consume to perform the same task. Edge computing and more machine intelligence is driving the demand for near data performance accelerators.

C. FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays)

FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) are integrated circuits that can be programmed as needed. FPGAs are often added to embedded computers because of their ability to accelerate AI, ML (machine learning), and DL (deep learning) workloads. Also, they deliver better performance than GPUs, significantly speeding up an organization’s entire AI workflow, all while using less power than GPUs. FPGAs are specifically beneficial in computing systems because of their programmable nature for a variety of markets.

D. NVMe Computational Storage Devices (CSDs)

Furthermore, NVMe computational storage can be added to embedded systems to accelerate certain workloads. Computational storage enables the processing of data at the storage device level. This reduces the amount of data that has to be transferred between the storage device and the compute plane. As such, CSDs can significantly increase data-intensive workloads rather than computationally intensive by removing the storage to processor bottleneck.

nvme-storage-technology

#3 - RAM – System Memory

RAM is also an essential component of most embedded computers. RAM, short for random access memory, is used to store data that your system needs quick access to. Once data is loaded onto the RAM, the computer can quickly retrieve the information it needs from it. RAM is used because it is significantly faster than SSDs and other storage devices. Generally, the more RAM you add to a device, the faster and more responsive it becomes. Also, the more RAM that’s added to the system, the better the system performs when simultaneously running multiple applications.

Devices with more RAM are faster because they can access the information much quicker, therefore spending less time trying to find information access it from the hard drive or solid-state drive. That said, RAM is a volatile type of memory, meaning that it resets every time the system is turned off, wiping out the data that was once loaded onto it. This is the main differentiator between SSDs + HDDs and RAM memory. SSDs and HDDs provide long term storage of data, whereas RAM provides short term data storage.

#4 - Storage

The third component that’s commonly found in an embedded system is storage. Embedded systems must be able to store data; as such, they are often configured using HDDs (hard drives), SSDs (solid-state drives), or M.2 NVMe SSDs. NVMe SSDs are the fastest type of storage device that you can configure an embedded computer with, offering data read speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s and read speeds of up to 2,500 MB/s.

That said, systems can still be configured with SSDs and HDDs. Regular SSDs are less expensive than NVMe options and tend to have larger volumes of storage, making them an attractive option for some organizations. Also, SSDs are significantly faster than traditional HDDs because they store data on NAND chips, which enables them to read/write data much faster than traditional hard drives.

However, hard drives are still used by some customers because they provide large volumes of data storage at attractive prices. As such, for organizations that want to store massive amounts of data on an embedded device, hard drives still make sense because they are the cheapest form of device storage. So, organizations that want the largest amount of data storage can achieve this only via the use of hard drives. SSDs have gone up in size; however, hard drives still provide the largest storage capacity at the most competitive pricing.

hdd-spinning-disk-vs-sdd

#5 - I/O Ports

Embedded computers feature rich I/O ports, allowing systems to connect to new technology, legacy technology, other devices and sensors, as well as to the internet. Especially for Industry 4.0, many embedded computers manage and consolidate workloads from both legacy and digital equipment for operational efficiency.

I/O ports that are commonly found on embedded systems include:

  1. USB Type-A ports
  2. Dual RJ45 LAN Ports
  3. Serial COM ports
  4. Audio Out / Audio In ports
  5. HDMI, DP, and DVI ports
  6. GPIO (General-purpose input/output) ports

Learn more about the most popular industrial I/O ports

industrial-io-ports

#6 - Cooling Solution

Embedded systems can be configured using low-powered processors, as well as powerful processors. That said, regardless of whether you choose low-powered processors or high-performance processors, embedded PCs are passively cooled via the use of heatsinks. Heatsinks disperse heat from the internal heat-generating components to the outer enclosure, which dissipates the heat into the environment surrounding the PC. The outer compartment of rugged embedded PCs features fins that add to the device’s surface area, enhancing the system’s heat dissipation capabilities.

heatsink-fanless-passive-cooling

That said, if you need a PC that can handle complex workloads, such as AI, inference analysis, or deep learning, you will probably have to configure a system that includes a GPU. GPUs are great because they accelerate these workloads; however, they tend to produce a lot of heat. Therefore, GPUs cannot be cooled without some type of active cooling, and often they must be actively air-cooled to perform properly.

As such, systems that are configured with GPUs are not completely fanless. The CPU may still be fanlessly cooled, but the GPU will require active air cooling, meaning the system will not be completely fanless. That said, systems with GPUs are still ruggedly designed and can be deployed in some of the same environments as can completely fanless systems.

optional-fan-module-active-cooling

#7 - Wired & Wireless Connectivity

Embedded PCs feature three types of connectivity options to connect to other devices and the internet. The first connectivity option is wired connectivity. Most embedded systems from Premio come configured with a minimum of 2x RJ45 GigE LAN ports, offering blazing fast wired connectivity to sensors, devices, and the internet. For organizations that require additional RJ45 or M12 ethernet ports, daughterboards with additional ports can be installed, expanding the number of RJ45 or M12 ethernet ports available to you. Expansion options include both GigE LAN ports, as well as PoE+ ports for power and data over a single cable.

poe-lan-module-m12-wired-connectivity

Furthermore, embedded computers come equipped with Wi-Fi 6, allowing for reliable, low latency, and quick wireless LAN connectivity. Wi-Fi 6 offers organizations a ton of flexibility by allowing them to configure the range and power consumption of Wi-Fi according to their specific requirements.

That said, we understand that not every organization or business deploying an embedded system is doing so in an environment where reliable internet connectivity exists. As such, we have equipped our embedded computing solutions with cellular connectivity via 2x SIM slots, allowing organizations to add 2x SIM cards for redundant cellular connectivity. Redundancy is important because if one carrier is not available, the system can connect to a secondary carrier to offload mission-critical data to the cloud for remote monitoring and control. Cellular connectivity options include 4G, LTE, and 5G, providing high-speed internet connectivity.

wireless-connectivity-embedded-computers

What Are the Defining Characteristics of Embedded PCs?

We will now discuss some of the defining characteristics of embedded computers:

#1 - Small Footprint

Compact embedded PCs have a small footprint, allowing organizations to deploy them in space-constrained environments. For example, the RCO-1000 Series of industrial embedded systems comes in at 150MM (W) x 105MM (D) x 37MM (H), making it small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Furthermore, such systems tend to be lightweight, making them easy to mount on ceilings, walls, or other surfaces without having to invest in expensive mounting solutions. By deploying a compact computing solution, you can deploy the device in concealed areas, such as a cabinet or drawer, without having to worry about the system overheating since they are passively cooled without the use of fans.

 rco-1000-industrial-embedded-systems

#2 - Power Efficiency

Embedded computer systems are often configured using powerful yet energy-efficient processors that use very little energy and therefore produce little heat. These systems are different from regular desktop computers that do not use energy-efficient processors. Although the power savings from deploying a system is negligible, you will notice significant savings on energy costs if you’re deploying hundreds or thousands of embedded devices. Additionally, power efficiency is essential for systems that are deployed in remote environments where stable power is not always available. This is so because embedded computers can run on battery power in the event that a stable power supply is not present.

#3 - Dust Resistance

Fanless embedded PCs and rugged embedded computers are resistant to dust and small debris. This is possible due to the passive cooling of the PCs via heatsinks, eliminating the need for openings since there is no need for fans to circulate air throughout the systems. As such, rugged and fanless devices are ideal for deployment in environments where they will be exposed to dust and debris. Consumer-grade desktop computers are not fit for deployment in challenging environments because they are full of vents and opening in order for fans to circulate air through the system. As such, dust and other small particles can enter the system, causing fans and other sensitive components to fail, rendering systems inoperable, causing detrimental downtime. Downtime in industrial settings can easily cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. As such, it’s worth investing in an embedded computing solution that can run reliably 24/7 even when exposed to dust, dirt, and debris.

#4 - Shock and Vibration Resistance

Oftentimes, embedded computers are deployed in environments where they are exposed to significant shocks and vibrations. For example, a system attached to factory machinery or equipment can be subjected to tremendous and frequent shocks and vibrations. The same goes for embedded systems that are deployed in vehicles.

As such, such systems must be able to operate reliably 24/7 despite exposure to shocks and vibrations. For this reason, rugged embedded computers are engineered and built to withstand exposure to frequent exposure to shocks and vibrations. Premio has engineered the systems using as few screws and joints as possible, as well as configured systems using SSDs instead of hard drives so that the systems can cope with shocks and vibrations.

The use of fewer joints and screw reduces the number of moving parts, thus reducing the number of parts that can fail. SSDs (solid-state drives) make systems more reliable because SSDs store data on NAND chips, which can better handle shocks and vibrations than the spinning metal platters found in hard drives to store data.

Furthermore, Premio has implemented a cableless design that eliminates all cables from the system. The elimination of cables removes the possibility that a cable comes loose from its connection as the system is exposed to shocks and vibrations, rendering the system inoperable. As such, industrial embedded devices are much more suitable than regular desktop computers for deployment in challenging environments where devices will be exposed to shocks and vibrations.

#5 - Rich I/O

At Premio, we understand that organizations often need to connect both new and legacy technologies to embedded computers. As such, we have equipped our systems with USB Type-A ports for connectivity with new technologies, Serial COM ports for connectivity with Legacy Technologies, and RJ45 LAN ports for connectivity to the internet and other sensors that utilize the standard for communication. Furthermore, our devices have HDMI, DP, and DVI ports for displaying information, allowing them to connect to most displays currently on the market.

Embedded Computer vs. Regular Desktop Computer

rugged-embedded-computers-vs-regular-desktop-computers

Although industrial-grade embedded computer share many components with consumer-grade desktop PCs, such as processors (CPUs), graphics processing united (GPUs), RAM memory, and storage devices (SSDs & HDDs), embedded computing solutions utilize industrial-grade versions that have been tested and validated to run reliably in challenging environments.

Furthermore, industrial-grade options are built with toughness in mind, making them better able to survive in industrial environments where the systems will likely be exposed to harsh environmental factors, such as dust, grime, vibrations, shocks, extreme temperatures, and even water.

Different Types of Embedded PCs

There are several types of embedded computer systems that we will discuss today, and these include the following: rugged industrial PCs, in-vehicle computers, IoT gateways, embedded automation computers, small form factors PCs, and panel PCs.

Type #1 - Rugged Industrial Computers

Rugged industrial embedded computers are engineered and built for deployment in the most extreme environments. Everything from the internal components to the outer enclosure is designed and built for robustness and durability. For example, the external enclosure is built using extruded aluminum and heavy-duty metals, making it durable and resistant to corrosion. Additionally, the internal components have a wide operating temperature range, ranging from -40⁰C to 85⁰C, allowing rugged PCs to be deployed outdoors in NEMA enclosures.

rugged-industrial-computers

For organizations that want to deploy an embedded computing solution outdoors without housing devices in NEMA enclosures, you can do so with the WCO Series of rugged and waterproof industrial computers. This is so because not only is the WCO Series resistant to dust and debris, but it is also waterproof, so it does not need to be deployed in a NEMA enclosure for protection from water.

Rugged Industrial Computer Use Case

For example, rugged industrial computers are ideal for deployment in oil production facilities that are often located in the middle of deserts. Oil production facilities utilize rugged industrial computers to monitor and control oil production and refining machinery. For embedded computers to function in such volatile environments that experience extreme temperatures and sand storms, systems must be rugged to operate reliably 24/7. Downtime in oil production facilities could quite literally cost millions of dollars in lost profits, so the computing solution deployed must be capable of handling the challenging desert environment and operate reliably around the clock.

Rugged industrial PCs are ideal for such environments because they employ a fanless and completely closed design that prevents small particles such as sand particles from entering the system and damaging sensitive internal components. The fanless design and use of wide temperature range components allow systems to survive the scorching desert environment where the temperature reaches and can exceed 50⁰C or 120⁰F.  

Furthermore, rugged embedded computers are often deployed in remote environments that do not have wired or wireless LAN connectivity. As such, embedded systems are often equipped with cellular connectivity via dual SIM slots, allowing rugged PCs to connect to the internet to offload mission-critical data to the cloud for remote monitoring and control.

Solution #1: Premio RCO-6100 Series of Rugged Embedded Computers

Premio’s RCO-6100 Series can be configured using Intel’s powerful Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, making it ideal for embedded applications where performance and ruggedness are equally important. The RCO-6100 Series offers powerful performance, making it great for multitasking at the edge. Furthermore, the RCO-6100 Series comes equipped with rapid connectivity features for quick and reliable connectivity at the edge.

Specifications

  • LGA 1151 socket for 8th/9th Gen. Intel® CFL-R S Processor (65W/35W TDP)
  • Intel® Q370 chipset
  • 2x DDR4 2400/2666Hz SODIMM. Max. up to 64GB
  • Triple Independent Display by 1x DVI-I and 2x DisplayPort
  • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
  • 2x Full-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules, 2x SIM socket
  • 4x 2.5" SATA HDD Bay and 1x mSATA with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support
  • 1x M.2 (M Key, NVMe PCIe x4, 2280); 1x M.2 (E Key, PCIe x2, USB 2.0, 2230)
  • 6x RS-232/422/485 (w/ 2x internal), 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 5x USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • 8x DI + 8x DO with isolation
  • 9 to 48VDC Wide Range Power Input Supporting AT/ATX Mode
  • Wide Operating Temperature -25°C to 70°C (35W CPU); -25°C to 60°C (65W CPU)
  • TPM 2.0 Supported

RCO-6100-series-rugged-embedded-computers

Solution #2: WCO-3400 Series of Waterproof Embedded Computers IP 65/67

The WCO-3400 Series is a rugged, waterproof embedded PC that is built using extruded aluminum and heavy-duty metals, creating a system that’s resistant to both water and dust, making it great for deployment in environments where it will be exposed to both dust and water. The WCO-3400 Series is fanlessly cooled by heatsinks that transfer heat away from the internal heat-generating components to the outer enclosure, which dissipates the heat into the air surrounding the PC. The WCO-3400 Series is great for deployment in food and beverage processing plants, outdoor digital signage, outdoor surveillance systems, automation and control, and military and defense applications. This is so because they are capable of performing reliably and optimally even when exposed to water splashes from all directions, thanks to the WCO-3400 Series’ IP65/67 rating.

 

Specifications
  • Intel® 7th Gen (Kabylake-U) Processor Core™ i5-7300U, Core™ i3-7100U
  • 1x 260-pin DDR4 SODIMM. Max up to 16GB
  • Single display supported by 1x VGA (waterproof connector)
  • 2x LAN by M12 X-Code 8-pin
  • 1x RS-232/422/485 by M12 D-Code 8-pin, 1x USB 3.0
    (waterproof connector), 2x USB 2.0 by M12 D-Code 8-pin
  • 1x 2.5” SATA HDD bay and 1x mSATA (shared by 1x Mini PCIe)
  • 2x Full-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules,
    2x internal SIM socket
  • Full system IP65 level dustproof & waterproof
  • 9 to 50VDC wide range power input supporting AT/ATX mode
  • -40°C to 70°C extended operating temperaturewco-3400-series-waterproof-embedded-computers-ip-65-67

Type #2 - Industrial Panel PC

Industrial Panel PCs are all in one (AIO) computers that combine embedded computers and hardened displays into a single solution. Industrial panel computers are often deployed in factories and production facilities, functioning as HMIs (human-machine interface), allowing humans to interact with and control factory machinery. Furthermore, industrial all in one panel PCs are often used in interactive kiosk machines, industrial control, and inventory management. The main purpose of industrial panel PCs is to provide humans with an easy way to interact and interface with the PC and other machines, especially via the use of rugged hardened touch displays.

Industrial panel PCs can be configured with resistive touch or capacitive touch display. Resistive touch displays use pressure as input, whereas capacitive displays detect small electrical charges from a person’s finger to register an input. Capacitive screens are capable of detecting lighter touches than resistive displays. However, resistive displays are still sought out by some organizations where employees wear gloves. Gloves don’t work very well with capacitive displays but work just fine with resistive displays because resistive displays rely on pressure to register an input vs. the electrical charges that capacitive displays rely on to register an input.

Industrial Panel PC Use Case

For example, industrial panel computers are often deployed in factories to control production lines and provide real-time production data for factory operators. Factories and production facilities are often full of industrial dirt and grime, and temperatures often fluctuate, reaching extreme levels, as such, industrial panel PCs must be able to cope with such environmental challenges. The great thing about industrial panel PCs is that they can be easily cleaned since the AIO panel PC systems are waterproof. Workers can wash down systems with high-temperature, high-pressure water jets without having to add any additional protection to the system.

Industrial panel computers are ruggedly designed and built for food processing, beverage manufacturing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Industrial panel PCs are IP rated, starting from solutions that are IP 66 rated to solutions that have a maximum IP rating of 69K for the ultimate water and dust resistance.

Solution #1: VIO Series

Premio’s VIO Series of industrial panel PCs presents organizations with an excellent, IP-rated AIO Panel PC that’s great for deployment in industries, such as food and beverage processing and pharmaceutical manufacturings. The VIO Series of industrial panel PCs meets the strict requirements for hygiene, reliability, and robustness that these industries require. Furthermore, the VIO Series is completely dustproof and waterproof, allowing it to operate in challenging environments where the system will be exposed to dust, water, and grime. The VIO Series is able to survive such deployments because it is equipped with an IP65 rating, making it resistant to dust and water.

Specifications For VIO-W121-PC400

  • 5” TFT FHD 16:9 LCD with resistive 5-wire / projected capacitive touch
  • Intel® 7th Gen (Kaby Lake-U) Processor Core™ i5-7300U, Core™ i3-7100U
  • 1x 260-pin DDR4 SODIMM. max up to 16GB
  • 1x 2.5” SATA HDD bay support RAID 0, 1
  • 1x mSATA (shared by 1x Mini PCIe), 1x CFast (shared by 1x mSATA), 2x SIM socket
  • 2x full-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules
  • 2x LAN, 1x VGA, 1x DisplayPort, 1x Dual Channel 24 bit LVDS
  • 4x RS-232/422/485, 4x USB 3.0, Audio
  • 8x DI + 8x DO with isolation
  • 2x Universal I/O Bracket for Expansion (VIO-112-PC410 Only)
  • 9 to 50VDC wide range power input
  • -10°C to 60°C extended operating temperature
  • Designed with an aluminum die-casting front frame
  • IP65 compliant front panel
  • Two 10W internal speakers built-in
  • Multi-language OSD built-invio-series-industrial-panel-pcs

Solution #2: SIO Series

The SIO Series is one of the most rugged AIO touch Panel PCs that Premio offers. The SIO Series is designed and built for deployment in cleanrooms and environments that require unquestionable hygiene while delivering high performance compute power, displaying information on a rugged built-in display. Moreover, the SIO Series comes with an IP66/69K rating, allowing organizations to clean the system using high temperature, high-pressure water jets. Furthermore, the system comes with M12 locking I/O connectors, designed to prevent damage to the system from powerful hygenic washdowns.

Specifications For SIO-215-J1900

  • 15” TFT XGA 4:3 LCD with resistive 5-wire / projected capacitive touch
  • Intel® Celeron® processor J1900, 2.0 GHz
  • 1x 4GB DDR3L SODIMM, 1x 64GB mSATA
  • 1x M12 LAN, 2x USB 2.0, 1x M12 COM
  • 1x Full-size Mini PCIe for expansion
  • Support 110V to 240V AC power input
  • -20°C to 55°C operating temperature
  • Full system IP66/IP69K with Stainless Steel SUS316 construction

 sio-series-rugged-touch-panel-pcs

Type #3 - Vehicle Embedded Computer

    Embedded vehicle computers are often exposed to frequent shocks and vibrations, dust, and extreme temperatures as vehicles are moving. So, systems must be rugged, fanless, and have a wide operating temperature range to cope with the challenging environments in which they are deployed. The rugged design makes embedded vehicle PCs resistant to dust, humidity, shocks, vibrations, and extreme temperatures.

    Vehicle Embedded Computer Use Case

    Autonomous vehicles are often used in warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities to move goods in these facilities. Autonomous vehicles include autonomous pallet trucks, stackers, and forklifts, providing tremendous value for organizations by handling repetitive tasks that are labor-intensive and dangerous.

    Furthermore, in-vehicle embedded computers are used to guide autonomous road vehicles. Embedded edge computers are required for such applications since processing and decision making must be performed in real-time to avoid the vehicle colliding with other vehicles, people, and other objects. This is so because vehicles must make decisions in as little as a single millisecond, which is something that embedded edge computers enable them to do. Relying on the cloud to make decisions that guide a cloud is not possible due to latency issues associated with sending/receiving data to the cloud.

    Solution #1: RCO-1010G-2P with PoE and Power ignition

    The RCO-1000 Series of industrial embedded computers is designed for deployment in space-limited environments that are challenging for regular PCs thanks to its fanless cooling technology. The RCO-1010 features low-powered, efficient processing, all from a compact form factor PC. The RCO-1000 Series is great for embedded applications, such as machine automation and IoT gateways.

    • Intel® E3845, or J1900 processor onboard
    • 1x SO-DIMM socket, DDR3L-1066/1333, up to 8GB
    • DVI-I
    • 2x COM, 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, 2x GbE
    • 2x mini-PCIe (1x mSATA auto-switch)
    • 2x external SIM slots
    • 1x Universal I/O
    • Line-out/Mic-in phone jacks
    • Power switch, remote switch, AT/ATX select
    • Operating temperature: -25 °C ~ 70 °C
    • Vibration: 5 Grms, 5 - 500 Hz, 0.5 hr/axis; Shock: 50G, half sine, 11ms (with SSD)
    • TPM 2.0 Supportrco-1010g-2p-industrial-embedded-computers

     

    Solution #2: RCO-3400 For Telematics and Data Processing

    The RCO-3400 Series offers high performance from a ruggedly designed and built system. This Series can be configured for powerful performance while providing an extremely flexible I/O. The systems come configured with wireless and cellular connectivity, enabling the remote deployment of the RCO-3400 Series.

    • Intel® 7th Gen (Kabylake-U) Processor Core™ i5-7300U, Core™ i3-7100U
    • 1x DDR4 SODIMM. max up to 16GB
    • Triple independent display supported by 1x VGA and 2x DisplayPort
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 2x 2.5" SATA HDD Bay (1x internal, 1x removable) with RAID 0, 1, 5 support,
      1x mSATA (shared by 1x Mini PCIe), and 1x CFast (shared by 1x mSATA)
    • 2x full-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules,
      2x SIM socket
    • 5x RS-232/422/485 (w/ 3x internal), 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
    • 8x DI + 8x DO with isolation
    • 9 to 50VDC wide range power input supporting AT/ATX mode
    • -40°C to 70°C extended operating temperaturerco-3400-telematics-data-processing

     

    Solution #3: ACO-6000 for Railway EMI Compliance

    The ACO-6000 Series is designed for rugged in-vehicle applications. The ACO-6000 Series is E-Mark certified and conforms with EN50155 & EN50121-3-2, allowing such devices to track and monitor mission-critical vehicles.

    Specifications

    • LGA 1151 socket for 6th/7th Gen. Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3, Pentium®,
      or Celeron® Desktop Processor
    • Intel® Q170 Chipset
    • 2x 260-pin DDR4 SO-DIMM, up to 32GB
    • Triple independent display
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 4x COM, 6x USB 3.0, 2x GbE
    • 2x mini-PCIe (2x mSATA auto-detect) with 2x front universal I/O slots
    • 4x 2.5” SATA HDD bay and 2x mSATA supporting
    • 4x Full-size mini PCIe
    • 3x SIM socket
    • 4x RS-232/422/485, 6x USB 3.0, 16-bit Isolated digital I/O
    • 9 to 48 VDC wide range power input
    • -25 °C to 70 °C extended operating temperature
    • Power ignition management

    aco-6000-rugged-in-vehicle-applications

    Type #4 - IoT Gateways

    IoT gateways are embedded computers that are deployed at the edge of a network to collect, process, analyze, and relay data to the cloud for remote monitoring and control. Furthermore, IoT gateways facilitate communication among connected devices, as well as connect them to the internet. IoT gateways create a bridge between IoT sensors, cameras, and actuators, and the internet, collecting data from these devices, processing it, and sending it to the cloud. IoT gateways often connect to sensors, actuators, and other devices via wired LAN, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.

    rugged-iot-gateway

    IoT Gateway Use Case

    For example, those in the agriculture industry often utilize sensors and monitoring equipment to monitor the growth of plants. IoT gateways are required to gather data from the sensors and send it via the internet to the cloud so that farmers can monitor the growth of the plants. Sensors alone only sense the environment around them; IoT gateways are required to process the information, analyze it, and send the analyzed data to the cloud for remote monitoring and control. Furthermore, IoT gateways can be used to automate processes, such as light scheduling, irrigation cycles, and fertigation, creating a fully automated and connected horticulture. That said, IoT gateways can be used in thousands of different applications; this is just one of the applications that one of our customers uses IoT gateways for.

    CTA – Click here to learn how IoT gateways are used for smart agriculture.

    The Solution: BCO-1000 Series / RCO-1000 Series

    The BCO-1000 Series & RCO-1000 Series are fanless embedded PCs, designed for low-powered IoT processing and edge-level data telemetry. Both solutions are cost-competitive and tested for challenging deployments. These solutions are great for deployment in space-constrained environments where regular desktop PCs are too large to be deployed. A key benefit of both devices is that they come configured with a very versatile I/O, allowing systems to connect to both new and legacy technologies. These systems are great for smart vending, interactive kiosk machines, smart agriculture, security and surveillance, and embedded and edge IoT.

    BCO-1000 Series Specification

    • Intel® Celeron® processor J1900, up to 2.0GHz
    • 1x 204-pin DDR3L SODIMM. max up to 8GB
    • Dual independent display supported by 1x DVI-I
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 1x mSATA
    • 2x full-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules,
      1x SIM socket
    • 2x RS-232/422/485, 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0
    • 9 to 30VDC wide range power input supporting AT/ATX mode
    • -20°C to 50°C extended operating temperaturebco-series-fanless-mini-computers

     

    RCO-1000 Series Specifications

    • Intel® E3845, or J1900 processor onboard
    • 1x SO-DIMM socket, DDR3L-1066/1333, up to 8GB
    • DVI-I
    • 2x COM, 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0, 2x GbE
    • 2x mini-PCIe (1x mSATA auto-detect)
    • 2x external SIM slots
    • Line-out/Mic-in phone jacks
    • Power switch, remote switch, AT/ATX select
    • Operating temperature: -25 °C ~ 70 °C
    • Vibration: 5 Grms, 5 - 500 Hz, 0.5 hr/axis; Shock: 50G, half sine, 11ms (with SSD)
    • 9~48V (over voltage/current, reverse polarity protection)
    • TPM 2.0 Support

    rco-1000-series-fanless-embedded-pcs

    Type #5 - Embedded Automation PC

    Embedded automation computers are rugged, industrial-grade computing solutions that can be used for both entry-level and complex automation workloads. Automation computers are used to control processes, robots, and factory machinery that’s often used to manufacture a product. Automation PCs have the ability to increase productivity, increase flexibility, and increase the quality of the products that are manufactured.

    Embedded Automation Computer Use Case

    Automation computers are often found in production facilities connecting and controlling the various sensors, cameras, machinery, and IoT devices located on the factory floor. Automation computers connect machines to other machines, as well as connect machines to the internet and cloud for remote monitoring and control. Furthermore, embedded automation PCs enable predictive maintenance, allowing factory operators to perform maintenance on machines or components before such items fail, helping production facilities avoid the downtime associated with failed or failing factory machinery at unplanned times.

    Solution #1: VCO - 6100 Machine Vision and Automation Computer

    VCO-6100 Series is great for rich visual data processing in challenging environments. The VCO series comes equipped with Intel 9th Generation Core Processors, delivering blazing-fast performance for visual analysis in challenging environments. Machine vision computers can be configured with GPUs (graphics processing units) and VPUs (vision processing units) to acceleration vision-based applications.

    Specifications For VCO-6133 Machine Vision Computer

    • Support 8th/9th Gen Intel® CFL-R S Processor (LGA 1151, 65W/35W TDP)
    • Intel® Q370 Chipset
    • Triple Independent Display by 1x DVI-I and 2x DisplayPort
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 2x Full-size mini PCIe (shared by 1x mSATA), and 2x SIM socket
    • 4x 2.5" SATA HDD Bay with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support, 1x mSATA (Shared by 1x Mini PCIe)
    • 1x M.2 (M Key, NVMe PCIe x4, 2280), 1x M.2 (E Key, PCIe x2, USB 2.0, 2230)
    • 6x RS-232/422/485 (4x internal)
    • 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), 5x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps, internal), 2x USB 2.0 header (internal)
    • 2x PCIe x4 1-lane, 1x PCIe x16 (VCO-6133E) or 3x PCI (VCO-6133P) or 1x PCIe x16, 2x PCI (VCO-6133C)
    • 8x DI + 8x DO with isolation
    • 9 to 48V DC Wide Range Power Input Supporting AT/ATX Mode
    • Wide Operating Temperature (-25°C to 70°C)
    • TPM 2.0 Supported

    VCO-6100-machine-vision-automation-computer

    Solution #2: RCO-6120 Series of AI Edge Inference Computer

    The RCO-6120 Series of AI Edge Inference Computers brings powerful performance to challenging environments. This Series can deliver powerful processing power for AI applications that organizations want to perform at the edge. AI workloads can be quite complex and demanding on edge computing hardware. As such, the RCO-6120 can be configured using 8-Core Intel Core i7 Processors for powerful processing at the rugged edge. Furthermore, if you require more compute power for your AI workloads, the RCO 6120 can be configured using performance accelerators, such as GPUs and VPUs.

    RCO-6120-2060S Specifications

    • LGA 1151 socket for 8th/9th Gen. Intel® CFL-R S Processor Pentium® / Celeron® Desktop Processor
    • Intel® Q370 chipset
    • NVIDIA GeForce® RTX 2060 Super Graphics engine based on NVIDIA TurningTM GPU architecture
    • 2x 260-pin DDR4 SODIMM. Max. up to 64GB
    • 6 Display interface supported by 1x DVI-I, 1x DVI-D, 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 4x 2.5” SATA HDD Bay and 2x mSATA with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support
    • 1x M.2 (M Key, NVMe PCIe x4, 2280); 1x M.2 (E Key, PCIe x2, USB 2.0, 2230),2x SIM socket
    • 9 to 48VDC Wide Range Power Input Supporting AT/ATX Mode
    • Wide Operating Temperature (-25°C to 60°C)
    • Power ignition management

    rco-6120-ai-edge-inference-computer

    Type #6 - Fanless Mini PCs & Small Form Factors Computers

    Compact mini PCs are often used because of the small footprint that they have, enabling organizations and businesses to deploy them in space-limited environments where discretion is required. Popular uses for small fanless PCs include deployment in kiosk machines, digital signage, and industrial automation. Users can configure fanless mini-computers with different types of processing, ranging from low-powered SoC systems to more powerful socket solutions that utilize Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors.

    Small fanless PCs can easily be mounted on walls, ceilings, cabinets, drawers, and many other different types of spaces. Fanless mini computers can easily connect to the internet thanks to the availability of wired, Wi-Fi, Cellular, and Bluetooth connectivity options.

    Furthermore, fanless mini computing solutions come as fanless solutions or rugged fanless solutions. Both fanless and rugged mini PCs are capable of being deployed in challenging environments often exposed to dust, debris, shocks, vibrations, and extreme temperatures. However, rugged mini PCs take ruggedness a step further, providing better protection from environmental challenges found in extreme deployments.

    The Solution: RCO-3600 Series of Rugged Fanless Mini Computer

    The RCO-3600 Series is a rugged industrial computing solution that comes with a versatile and expandable I/O. The RCO-3600 Series is ideal for kiosk machines, factory automation, edge computing, serving as human-machine interface (HMI), serving as IoT gateways, and powering digital signage.

    Specifications of RCO-3600 Series

    • LGA 1151 socket for 6th/7th Gen. Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 or
      Pentium® / Celeron® Desktop Processor
    • Intel® Q170 chipset
    • 2x DDR4 1866/2133MHz SODIMM. Max. up to 32GB
    • Intel® HD Graphics 530 / 630
    • Triple independent display supported by 1x DVI-I,
      1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI (Optional)
    • 2x Intel® GbE supporting Wake-on-LAN and PXE
    • 2x internal 2.5" SATA HDD bay with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support,
      2x mSATA (shared by 2x Mini PCIe), 1x CFast
    • 2x full-size Mini PCIe (shared by 2x mSATA) for communication or
      expansion modules, 2x external SIM socket
    • 4x RS-232/422/485 (w/ 2x internal),
      6x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 (internal)
    • 8x DI + 8x DO with isolation
    • 9 to 50VDC wide range power input supporting AT/ATX mode
    • -25°C to 60°C extended operating temperature

    RCO-3600-series-rugged-industrial-computer

    Type #7 - 2.5” and 3.5” Single Board Embedded Computers (SBC)

    A single board computer (SBC) is a completely functioning computer where the CPU, GPU, memory, I/O, and other features are all built onto a single silicon substrate. Both the 2.5” and 3.5” SBCs have RAM slots, allowing users to add the amount of RAM they require. Overall, single board computers offer organizations a simple and cost-effective solution. The simplicity and fixed structure of embedded single board computers create a reliable computing solution free of bugs, conflicts, and other issues that could cause the system to stop operating properly, causing detrimental downtime. Ultimately, SBCs are often used because of their simplicity, small footprint, and ability to operate reliably 24/7.

    3.5” Embedded Mini Computer - WHL

    • Support 8th Gen. Intel® Core™ Mobile U Processor & Intel® Celeron® Processor
    • 1x 260-pin DDR4 2400 SO-DIMM. Max. up to 32GB
    • 2x Intel® GbE (Support Wake-on-LAN and PXE)
    • Triple independent display supported by:
      • 1x HDMI (Optional) support resolution 1920 x 1200,
      • 1x DisplayPort support resolution 4096 x 1200,
      • 1x Dual-channel, up to 24-bit LVDS optional 1x eDP via internal connector
    • 1x Front Panel with Audio support by internal header
    • 2x 4bit GPIO header
    • 2x Mini PCI-e (Gen3) w/ SIM slot support
    • 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps), 4x RS-232/422/485 internal headers, 2x USB 2.0 internal header
    • 2x SATA 6.0Gb/s
    • Watchdog timer 1~225sec. system reset
    • TPM 2.0 Supported

    3.5-single-board-computer

     2.5” Pico ITX Embedded Mini PC

    • Intel® Celeron® processor J1900, up to 2.0GHz
    • 1x 204-pin DDR3L SODIMM. max up to 8GB
    • 1x Intel® GbE
    • Dual independent display supported by 1x HDMI and 1x LVDS
    • 2x half-size mini PCIe for communication or expansion modules, 1x mSATA Socket
    • 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0
    • -10°C to 70°C extended operating temperature
    2.5-embedded-mini-pc

    Can Embedded Computers Be Used For Edge Computing?

    Yes, embedded PCs can be used for edge computing; in fact, they are a great solution for edge deployments where they are tasked with simple, entry-level workloads, such as digital signage media player, IoT gateway, entry-level automation, kiosk machines, and many other simple workloads.

    Rugged embedded computers are ideal for edge computing workloads because they come with a variety of I/Os, allowing them to communicate with both legacy and new technologies. They can collect information from machines and sensors, and relay that data to the cloud for remote monitoring and control. Also, they are very compact, which means that they can be deployed without taking too much precious space, making them excellent for space-limited environments.

    Furthermore, embedded PCs come equipped with a variety of different wired, wireless, and cellular connectivity options. This allows systems to connect to the internet to offload mission-critical data no matter where they’re deployed, even if they’re deployed in remote environments. Also, if there is no internet connectivity, embedded computers can continue to function normally, offloading critical data once internet connectivity is available.

    Also, embedded computers come with dual SIM slots, allowing for 4G, LTE, and 5G cellular connectivity, making them a great option for deployment in remote environments where reliable internet connectivity is not always available.

    Moreover, embedded computing solutions can be used for edge computing applications because they use a small amount of power, thus permitting deployment in remote environments where a stable power supply is not always available. This is so because such embedded solutions utilize low-powered processors, which have a low TDP, allowing them to run on battery power until power is restored.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are embedded computer systems used for?

    Embedded computer systems are used in a variety of different electronics such as refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and a variety of other electronics. However, for the purposes of this blog, we are focusing on industrial-grade embedded systems. Industrial grade embedded systems can be used to power things such as kiosk machines, digital signage, entertainment systems, industrial automation and control, and various other industrial workloads.

    2. Where can I buy embedded PCs from?

    You can buy premium embedded PCs from Premio. Premio has been designing and manufacturing high-quality embedded computers for over 30 years in the United States. Premio has a wide selection of embedded computers, such as fanless computers, rugged PCs, in-vehicle computers, compact fanless PCs, as well as a variety of other embedded computing solutions. If you need help choosing an embedded computing solution for your workload, contact us, and one of our embedded PC professionals will assist you with selecting an embedded computing solution that meets your specific requirements.

    3. Why deploy embedded systems?

    Organizations choose to deploy embedded computer systems because they are compact, rugged, and can easily be deployed in challenging environments. Embedded systems have been tested and validated to run reliably in environments that are too challenging for consumer-grade desktop computers. As such, organizations deploy them because they can operate reliably 24/7 for long periods without requiring any maintenance.

    4. What are the most common embedded systems?

    The most commonly deployed embedded systems are fanless embedded systems. This is so because they provide protection from dust and debris, which allows them to last for long periods of time without requiring any maintenance.

    premio-manufactures-designs-made-in-usa