Which Motherboard is Right for Your Industrial Deployment?


When it comes to building any computer, picking the right motherboard is essential. For a gaming desktop, you would want to pick the latest and best specifications that would be able to support the type of games that you play without any issues. When it comes to industrial applications, the variables that influence your decision become much more important. As one of the most critical components in any compute-based application, the motherboard is the central nervous system of the whole computer. 

Various factors heavily influence and require careful consideration especially when it comes to implementing at the edge. What many consumers can choose to ignore in the comfort of a well-maintained room, cannot be done in the same harsh environments that are found in places such as factory floors. Space limitations, dust, debris, and extreme temperatures all affect how OEMs and system integrators deploy their compute solutions.  

One such critical decision is choosing between traditional motherboards or single board computers (SBCs). The various form factors play an integral role providing the necessary processing and performance to power complex automation tasks or the reliability to withstand harsh conditions without the need to draw excessive power. In this guide, we will explore the key considerations when selecting either a motherboard, or an SBC for your industrial automation deployment.  

Motherboard Form Factors 

motherboard size comparison

As previously covered in a past post
, motherboards come in different sizes. These sizes provide various capabilities based on what is readily available on the PCB. Larger motherboards physically allow for more real estate, thus providing better performance and access to more expansion (via I/O, PCIe slots, etc.). 

Traditional ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX motherboards follow in the steps of a socket-type based design. These motherboards allow for a CPU processor to be inserted within a designated slot. Socket based motherboards are the most known types of boards that many people will be familiar with.  

On the opposite end, are single board computers – a version of motherboards that capture the essence of a fully integrated system. Components such as the CPU are soldered onto the PCB. Single board computers are a popular choice due to their small size, while still offering enough output to power small IoT devices.  

However, when it comes to industrial applications, many will opt to select a form factor and motherboard that is specifically designed as an industrial board. These boards are much more resilient and rugged than their commercial counterparts. They are designed much simpler and eliminate many unnecessary add-ons that consumer-grade motherboards commonly use.  

Choosing the Right Board

For many industrial embedded applications, size plays a major role in an overall choice when it comes to any system deployment. Many times, integrators will forgo the large consumer friendly ATX motherboard and opt for an industrial micro-ATX, mini-ITX, or an even smaller size to fit their space constrained requirements. The decision ultimately depends upon the type of application and workload.  

Micro-ATX motherboards are popular within both the consumer and industrial market, as it offers the majority of what you will find in an ATX motherboard. It comes with plentiful expansion and is ideal for certain applications that require high processing performance, such as Edge AI, machine/computer vision, and more. A mini-ITX motherboard, on the other hand, is often the most in-demand form factor. While still offering socket design, the motherboard has a very convenient form factor that fits within many embedded applications. Both sizes are small enough to fit within space constrained locations, while offering the capability to deliver power efficient, high-performance processing. 

However, for those who have extremely limited space, many will turn to single board computers. Sacrificing the bells and whistles for a more reliable, low power platform is exactly what many strive to achieve in the rigorous environments that are commonly found in Industry 4.0. Sizes of these SBCs can range from 1.8” to 3.5” and includes the nano-ITX form factor single board computer. Many small form factor boards benefit from longevity as they are built to last without the need for replacement or maintenance, thus lowering the total cost of ownership.  

A final choice that many may find useful, given the resources, would be a proprietary design that does not conform to the traditional form factors that many motherboards replicate. These motherboards typically are found housed in fully embedded systems that are strictly for that designated system only and are unable to be used in other systems.  

If you’re in the market for a high-performance application, then consider a system centered around a micro-ATX board or a mini-ITX. For applications that are space-limited and have strict power limitations, a fanless SBC should be a board of choice. Ultimately, the type of workload will dictate the final choice in what motherboard will be optimal for your deployment. Size, power, performance, and durability requirements will always need to be considered to ensure proper deployment. 

Industrial Motherboard + Industrial Chassis = Industrial Computers 

After selecting the right motherboard to fit your industrial application, the
next step is understanding how to protect the integral component and everything surrounding it. Leaving a motherboard exposed to the brave the elements is, of course, not the greatest idea when there are many detrimental factors that can easily cause the board to fail or malfunction. 

In almost many cases, motherboards will often be built with a ruggedized chassis surrounding them to provide robust reliability and protection for the motherboard and other components. It plays a vital role in safeguarding the system from environmental factors and physical damage. The embedded chassis should be rugged, well-ventilated, and designed to dissipate heat effectively to maintain optimal operating temperatures. 

With the combination of a chassis, an industrial computer is born. These embedded systems are primed and ready to take on the harshest Industry 4.0 deployments.  

Premio’s Industrial Motherboards & SBCs

Premio’s product family of both industrial motherboards and single board computers are designed to provide OEMs and system integrators with the necessary choices to tackle their industrial workload. Premio provides reliable and long-lasting standard off-the-shelf motherboards for the most challenging embedded applications.  

CT-MRL01 - Micro ATX Motherboard

A standard micro-ATX industrial motherboard. This is the latest in x86 computing processing. The CT-MRL01 motherboard supports 13th Gen Intel® Core™ Processors with an LGA 1700 socket and a Q670E Chipset PCH featuring a hybrid Intel® P&E Cores technology. 

CT-DAL01 - 3.5” Single Board Computer

Equipped with the 12th Gen. Intel® IoTG Alder Lake-N Processors, it offers a perfect blend of performance and energy efficiency through its E core architecture and DDR5 memory. Designed to endure harsh conditions, the CT-DAL01 ensures consistent performance in challenging environments, making it a reliable and robust choice in the embedded computing industry. 

Industrial Rugged Edge Computers

KCO Series

The KCO-RPL Series, a line of high-performance fanned industrial computers powered by Intel’s latest 13th Gen Raptor Lake processor. These ruggedized edge computers house our 12th/13th gen mATX industrial motherboard (CT-MRL01) for extensive scalability and IIoT-centric flexibility for seamless optimization in high-spec deployment applications.

Why Premio?


Premio also provides end-to-end services to help configure and solve design challenges. From a custom solution to a small change in I/O, we can adapt each motherboard into a solution that complies with the right specifications without compromising performance.  

Our family of fanless embedded computers are purpose built, validated, and certified to operate in wide temperatures, voltages, and shock and vibration standards. Edge computing devices come in a variety of different types that include, mini IoT gateways, fanless edge computers, and industrial grade embedded computers.