Choosing the right industrial PC that is well-equipped to handle your workloads is essential to ensure reliable and uninterrupted operation. So, how do you choose/select the right industrial computer? We will explain how you can do so in much detail below.
How to Choose an Industrial PC?
Choosing the right industrial PC depends on the compute performance your task requires, the environment in which your PC will be deployed, the space you have for the computer, the power supply you have, and the connectivity features that you need.
The CPU is the heart of every industrial computer, and it is responsible for the overall performance of the industrial computing solution that you choose. As such, it is essential to select a processor capable of handling any of the tasks and workloads that you throw at it.
People often want to cut corners when it comes to the CPU to save on an industrial computer’s overall cost. However, choosing a processor that is not powerful enough can result in sluggish performance, slowing down your workflow and causing downtime. So, when choosing the CPU that’s right for your industrial PC, you should select an option that is powerful enough to ensure a steady and uninterrupted workflow.
That said, selecting a processor that is too powerful for the workload you need it to perform is a waste because you would have paid for performance that you never utilized or is overkill. As such, to select a CPU that’s right for the workloads and tasks that you need it to perform, you should speak with one of our trained embedded computing professionals. They have a ton of experience helping customers choose the CPU option that is right for their workloads and dedicated applications.
At Premio, we offer a wide variety of CPU options for our industrial computers that range from quad-core Intel® Celeron® processors to Intel® 9th Generation Core® i7 Processors. Intel processors are very popular among industry professionals because of the performance and reliability that they offer.
If you need a mini-industrial PC to power up an item such as an IoT gateway or power efficient kiosk, something like an Intel® Celeron® J1900 processor is sufficient for such an application. However, suppose you need to deploy an industrial edge PC for automation inspection and smart surveillance; more cores on a silicon chip will allow for better workload consolidation.
You will benefit significantly by selecting an Intel® Core® i3, i5, or i7 processor as such a task will require tremendous processing power these processors can deliver. Intel Core series processors have many features built directly into the silicon, allowing users to maximize performance, especially in enterprise deployments.
Here are some of those features:
A. Intel Turbo Boost Technology
Intel Turbo Boost Technology allows the CPU to run the processor core faster than the marked frequency, which results in a performance boost in single and multithreaded applications.
Said differently, Intel Turbo Boost technology raises the processor’s frequency, thus increasing its performance when performing demanding tasks. You can enjoy the benefits of Intel Turbo Boost Technology without installing any software or application to enable this feature.
B. Intel Hyper-threading Technology (HTT)
Intel hyperthreading technology refers to Intel’s proprietary simultaneous multi-threading, which improves the parallelization of computations. Said differently, hyperthreading allows a processor to execute two concurrent streams of instructions sent by the operating system, allowing the processor to perform more work each clock cycle.
Overall, Intel Core processors can handle most complex tasks and workloads while providing users with tremendous reliability and longevity. Premio offers a wide variety of industrial computing solutions that can be equipped with different processors, depending on the tasks you need your industrial computing solution to perform.
C. Intel vPro Management
Intel vPro is built into Intel® Core® i5, i7, and i9 processors, allowing business and organizations to manage computer systems remotely regardless of whether the system is on or off or has no operating system installed. vPro is extremely helpful for performing software updates and addressing software-related malfunctions.
That said, you should contact us, and one of our experienced embedded computing professionals will help you choose the components (CPU, Ports, RAM, Connectivity, GPU) that you should configure your system with to ensure that your system will be able to accomplish its tasks now and well into the future.
Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the differences between SoCs vs. Socket CPUs will help you choose the CPU option that’s right for your workload.
SOC (System on Chip) vs. Socket Computers
A system on chip (SoC) is an integrated circuit that combines all of the components of a computer onto a single substrate. For example, with an SoC, the CPU, RAM, and GPU are all on a single chip. SoCs tend to be low powered and extremely compact, making them ideal for applications, such as IoT gateways and edge computing.
On the other hand, socket CPUs tend to be more powerful, offering better performance than SOCs because they have more cores and can operate at a much higher temperature. That said, SOCs still have their place in industrial workloads thanks to their efficient and optimal size, which offers great flexibility for industrial application and IoT deployments, which require low powered computing performance.
The industrial PC that you choose will depend on the environment in which the PC will be deployed. Some choose to deploy regular desktop PCs in environments that are exposed to extreme temperatures, shocks, vibration, dust, and debris and then wonder why the PC failed so quickly. Such environments require an industrial computer that can handle the volatile environment in which the system will be deployed.
Embedded industrial computers are designed and built with ruggedness in mind, enabling them to be deployed in environments that experience extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures, vibrations, shocks, dust, and debris.
Rugged industrial computers are able to survive in such environments thanks to their fanless, cableless, and rugged design. By eliminating fans and ventilation holes from industrial computing systems, industrial PC makers have eliminated the possibility that dust and debris will enter into the system causing internal components to fail. This results in an ultra-reliable industrial computing solution that results in minimal downtime, allowing you to run your operation reliably 24/7.
Additionally, industrial computers are able to survive in harsh environments thanks to their rugged outer enclosure, which is made from aluminum and steel. This construction protects systems from corrosion and allows them to be easily cleaned.
Also, different industrial computers offer different degrees of dust and liquid protection. For example, many of Premio’s solutions are resistant to dust, but for those who require dust and liquid resistance, Premio offers a number of rugged industrial computers that come with an IP rating.
At Premio, we understand that downtime costs money, especially in manufacturing plants that run around the clock. As such, we provide industrial computing solutions that have been stress tested to ensure 24/7 reliable operation.
Premio is able to streamline research and designs quickly into product realization due to ownership of internal environmental test labs. Our test engineers push industrial PCs through rigorous environmental testing to ensure reliability in industrial settings. These tests range from thermal chambers, shock and vibration, humidity, and electromagnetic interference.
Choosing the right industrial PC depends on the applications that you need your industrial PC to perform. For example, industrial computers are often deployed in industrial settings as workstations and HMIs (human-machine interface) in manufacturing plants, food processing plants, farms, warehouses, transportation nodes, medical institutions, hazardous locations, and a variety of other locations.
The industrial computer you choose will depend on the intensity and number of applications you want your system to perform. The greater the applications and the more demanding the software, the more compute power you will need to ensure that the system runs smoothly and reliably.
Rugged edge industrial computing is becoming more and more important due to the rapid growth and advancement in IoT. This is so because some applications require data processing and analysis at the edge of a network, and so this is where industrial computers come in. Since data does not need to travel long distances, edge computers can perform data processing, analysis, and decision making in real-time, enabling a number of applications that require such processing and analysis.
One example that quickly comes to mind is autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles need to perform inference analysis and decision making in mere seconds to avoid colliding with obstacles; this is something that can only currently be performed at the edge.
To select the best option, you should explain your use case and applications to one of our talented professionals. They will be more than happy to assist you with choosing the industrial computing solution that’s right for your workload and applications. Our trained professionals have worked with many businesses in different industries, so they will help you find a solution that meets your specific requirements.
After you’ve figured out the compute power that you need, the environment in which the industrial computer will be placed, and the applications you want to run, it’s time to consider the connectivity options you want to configure your system with.
At Premio, we understand that having an industrial computing solution with robust connectivity is essential to connect your system to the various sensors, inputs, networks, and accessories that you may have. Industrial computers can be configured with the following connectivity options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6, 4G, 5G, and 10GbE LAN ports.
Adding to our industrial computing system’s flexibility is the ability to extend the I/O through modular daughterboards, allowing you to add a wide variety of additional ports that include LAN RJ45/M12, serial ports, USB ports, DP ports, and DIO ports.
Bluetooth is often used to connect an industrial computing device with one or more sensors and/or devices. 4G and 5G are used to connect the device to the internet when the internet is not available via a wired connection or Wi-Fi. Regardless of which connectivity options you require, your system can be configured according to your specific requirements.
5. Operating System
Many people often do not consider the OS until they have the system in hand, but it is extremely important to test all the parts to ensure they work together harmoniously. As such, we work very diligently with our customers to ensure that the systems work flawlessly when they receive them.
Rugged industrial computers are able to run in remote locations where stable power is not always available. This is due to the ability of industrial computers to run on DC power. Premio industrial computers can operate on a wide power range between 9 – 50 VDC, enabling industrial computers to be deployed in a wide variety of power-efficient applications. Some of the industrial computers also have a feature to toggles between pc or car mode in order to run off the 12/24VDC battery of a vehicle.
7. Storage, Memory, and Expansion
The last item that you should consider when choosing an industrial PC is the storage solution that your workload requires. Industrial computers can be configured with standard hard drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). If you need to run regular applications that do not require real-time access, you can configure your system with mechanical drives.
However, if you require high-speed access to localized storage, you should equip your system with an SSD. SSDs offer extremely fast data transfer speeds, enabling real-time data processing and decision making. Additionally, equipping a system with an SSD vs. an HDD makes the system more reliable and more resistant to frequent shocks and vibrations because there are no moving platters in SSDs that can be damaged.
Additionally, if you need the latest is high-speed storage, you can configure your system with M.2 NVMe Storage solution. NVMe drives plug straight into PCIe protocol, providing you with blazing-fast data transfer speeds. NVMe drives have write speeds of up to 2,500 MB/s and read speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s. That said, regular SSDs and HDDs still have their place because they offer huge storage capacity, which is a requirement for some businesses and organizations in their storage infrastructure.
Furthermore, you should consider how much RAM or memory you want to equip your industrial PC with. RAM can have a significant impact on how well your system performs. The more RAM you have, the smoother your system will perform because it can cache data more quickly closer to the CPU processing architecture. RAM serves as an extremely fast short term storage device, allowing your CPU to access data and applications that you’re using super-fast. The more RAM you have, the more applications and data that can be loaded on it, thus allowing it to be accessed quicker, speeding up your industrial computing solution.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Are industrial PCs compact?
Industrial PCs come in a variety of configures. Industrial computers can be configured to be extremely compact, allowing them to be deployed in space-constrained environments. That said, if you need GPU computing power to accelerate AI applications, the systems tend to be larger to accommodate the addition of a graphical processing unit (GPU) for machine learning and inference analysis. Nevertheless, even systems configured with a GPU are compact enough to fit in space-limited environments. Industrial PC designs balance both size and performance into a reliable computing machine for enterprise applications that require minimal downtime.
2. How are industrial computers cooled?
Industrial computers are cooled via the use of thermal engineering and hardened heatsinks. Heatsinks transfer heat away from the internal heat-generating components to the system housing, which then dissipates the heat into the air surrounding the system. The secret behind industrial computers is the thermal engineering and mechanical design from the internal electronic components to the exterior hardened heatsink shell.
3. What is an industrial PC?
An industrial computer is, as the name suggests, a computer that’s capable of handling complex industrial workloads. Industrial computers are made from industrial-grade components that have been tested to ensure reliable operation. Industrial computers are able to perform reliably in environments that are unfriendly to regular desktop computers.
4. What are the benefits of industrial PCs?
The main benefit of industrial PCs is that they can survive in volatile environments where regular desktop computers cannot survive. Industrial computing solutions can survive in such environments because they are engineered and built to survive in extreme temperatures (cold & hot), resistant to shocks and vibration, and built to withstand environments full of dust and debris thanks to their fanless design.
5. Does Premio stress test its industrial computing systems?
Yes, at Premio, we stress test all systems to ensure that they are capable of running in the most volatile of environments. By stress-testing our system, we are ensuring that they will run reliably when performing the workloads you require them to perform.