What Are Single Board Computers (SBCs) & Where Can You Buy Them?

Single Board Computer

Whether you’re looking for information on what a rugged single board computer (SBC) is, or you’re looking for a source to buy them, you’ve come to the right place as we will provide you with all of the information you need to know about SBC single board computers, as well as an excellent source for buying them. 

What is a Single Board Computer (SBC)? 

A single board computer, commonly referred to as an SBC, is a complete computer system that’s contained on a single silicon board. Single board computers have a CPU, GPU, and I/O ports that are soldered onto a silicon board. Some SBCs come with onboard RAM, whereas others allow users to add their own RAM via socket. Furthermore, storage devices and additional I/Os can be added to single board computers. So, although some things may be added to SBCs, everything is contained on a single PCB. 

SBCs come in a variety of different sizes; the two most popular sizes are 3.5” and 2.5” SBCs. Single board computers are very simple, and the unchanging structure ensures that they will perform consistently for critical applications that require 24/7 reliable operation even under challenging environmental conditions. Industrial-grade SBCs are capable of running both Windows 10 IoT and Linux operating systems.

Single board computers are different from full-size desktop computers in that all of the components of the computer are contained on a single board, with many of them soldered down. This is different from desktop computers, where basic components, such as CPU and GPU, are added via sockets on the motherboard. For example, adding a GPU onto a regular desktop computer involves plugging a GPU into a socket on the motherboard. With SBCs, the GPU is soldered onto the circuit board, and it can neither be removed nor changed. 

Premio offers both 3.5” SBCs and 2.5” SBCs. The 3.5” SBC that Premio offers comes in two different configurations. It can be configured with either the powerful Intel® Core® i5-8365UE, featuring four cores with hyperthreading enabled. The Intel Core i5 version has a base frequency of 1.6GHz and a maximum Turbo Frequency of 4.10 GHz, providing blazing-fast performance at a TDP of only 15 Watts 

When you combine the quad-core performance, the ability to add 32GB DDR4-2400 MHz RAM, increased I/O capacity, and access to x4 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)you’re left with a computing powerhouse, ideal for complex workloads that require immense processing power and rich I/O. 

Additionally, Premio’s 3.5” SBC can be configured with the Intel® Celeron® 4305UE, featuring two cores with a base frequency of 2.00 GHz and a TDP of only 15 Watts. The Intel® Celeron® is great for entry-level workloads that do not require a ton of processing power. Overall, Premio’s 3.5” SBC offers plenty of performance in a compact form factor, making it a great option for embedded systems deployed in space-limited environments. 

Furthermore, the 3.5” SBC is hardened and equipped with a wide operating temperature range, ranging from -40C to 85C, making it one of the widest operating temperature ranges on the market for an industrial-grade 3.5” single board computer (SBC). 

The 2.5” SBC that Premio offers is based on the Intel Celeron J1900 processor, featuring four cores with a base frequency of 2.00GHz and a Turbo Frequency of 2.42GHz at a TDP of only 10 Watts. This single board computer is ultra-compact, coming in at 2.83 inches by 3.93 inches, making it small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Compactness is becoming more and more important as organizations continue to shrink the size of their industrial solutions. This 2.5” SBC is great for industrial IoT, in-vehicle, kiosk machines, medical applications, and much more. 

Moreover, it fits great into fanless products thanks to the use of the low-powered yet efficient Intel Celeron J1900 with a TDP of 10 Watts, which can be fanlessly cooled via the use of heatsinks. Moreover, it comes equipped with Rich I/O, offering 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0 portsGigabit ports, and HDMI port, allowing organizations to connect a ton of peripherals to the device. Furthermore, the device is hardened and includes an extended temperature range, ranging from 0C to 70C. 

What are the Features of SBCs (Single Board Computers)? 

1. Compact Form Factor

The main feature of SBCs is their compact design, giving them a small footprint, allowing deployment in space-limited environments
, such as small electronics cabinets, drawers, or other compartments. For example, Premio’s 3.5” SBC measures 5.7 inches X 4 inches, making it small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. As consumers continue to demand smaller and more miniaturized products, organizations are seeking to meet that demand by embedding smaller industrial PCs in their products to create a product that’s smaller in size. It’s worth noting that although SBCs are small in size, they offer performance comparable to full-size desktop computers. So, even though they’re compact in size, they can perform many of the workloads that full-size desktop computers are capable of performing.  

2. Rich Flexible I/O

The great thing about single board computers is that although they are compact in size, manufacturers have managed to equip them with a variety of I/O ports. For example, Premio’s 3.5” SBC is equipped with 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB ports, Dual RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports, Display port, and HDMI port. Furthermore, for organizations that want to connect legacy equipment to an single board computer, there are 4x internal RS-232/422/485 headers that organizations can use to add Serial COM ports. Also, the SBC is equipped with 2x Gen 3 mini PCIe slots with SIM slot support and 2x 6Gb/s SATA connections 

3. Durability & Longevity 

Single board computers are hardened to withstand deployment in challenging environments for a wide range of embedded computing applications. For example, they use a cableless design that enables the system to better handle exposure to shock and vibration. This is so because the fewer moving components, the fewer points of failure there are. Also, SBCs are equipped with a wide temperature range, ranging from -40C to 85C, allowing SBCs to withstand deployment in environments that experience extreme temperatures. Furthermore, the processors used in SBCs typically have a long life commitment from manufacturers such as Intel, ensuring a long life. Premio’s industrial SBC demonstrates its commitment to consistent quality, providing its customers with robust and durable computing platforms. 

What Can Single Board Computers Be Used For? 

Embedded single board computers are used in a wide variety of applications and industries. Such uses include consumer, industrial, automotive, medical, commercial, and military applications. For example, embedded SBCs are often used to power interactive kiosk machines because they have the I/O ports to connect to the various peripherals found on kiosk machines, and they are compact enough to fit in the compact enclosures that are commonly found in kiosk machines. Moreover, they provide the power necessary to run the applications that control the kiosk machine. Embedded SBCs are often embedded in devices because they are very power efficient. They are power efficient because manufacturers use low-powered yet efficient processors that consume little power. The power efficiency of embedded SBC gives them an edge for deployments where power efficiency is important. 

Can a Single Board Computer Run Windows? 

Yes, single board computers offered by Premio are capable of running the Microsoft Windows and Windows IoT operating systems. This is so because they are packed with powerful yet energy-efficient processors that are more than capable of running the Windows operating system. Additionally, SBCs are also capable of running Linux. So, if you want an SBC that supports Windows 10, Windows Enterprise, Windows 10 IoT, Windows 7, or Linux, explore the options that Premio has to offer as they are more than capable of running these operating systems. 

How Much Ram Can a Single Board Computer be Equipped With? 

The amount of RAM you can equip a system with depends on the amount of RAM supported by your SBC and the number of RAM slots. For example, Premio’s 3.5” SBC can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM. However, Premio’s 2.5” SBC can only be configured with up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM.  

What is the Difference Between Single Board Computers and Motherboards? 

The difference between single board computers and motherboards is that single board computers come with components such as the CPU, GPU, Memory, and I/O all contained on a single board. On the other hand, motherboards have sockets that are populated by CPU, graphics, and memory. Whereas components, such as CPU and GPU can be changed on traditional motherboards, such components cannot be changed on a single board of computers because they are typically soldered onto the circuit board. However, oftentimes, components such as RAM can be removed and upgraded, but main components such as CPU are soldered into place and cannot be upgraded. 

Where Can You Buy Single Board Computers? 

Premio has been designing and manufacturing premium embedded computing solutions for over 30 years in the United States. Premio offers two SBC (single board solutions) that can be configured according to your specific requirements. If you need assistance choosing a solution that’s suitable for your use case, please contact one of our embedded computing professionals, and they will be more than happy to assist you with choosing a solution that meets your requirements.