Single Board Computers

Today, high-productive embedded single-board computers are used in all areas of human lives: daily living, public spaces, manufacturing of both everyday goods and complex equipment.

These processes are managed by SBC-board PC. Due to their high productivity and compact size, they can be integrated into almost any device.

 

 

MTAX-SoM-AM335x

 

AX-SoM-XC7Z020

 

AXSY-SoM-SAMA5D3x

 

 

AX-SoM-BF60x

 

connector PLLD-1.27-80S + 40S Hirose FX8-120S-SV MXM3.0 (SODIMM-like) PLLD-1.27-80S + 40S
processor TI Sitara AM335x Xilinx Zynq Z-7020 Atmel SAMA5D3x Analog Devices Blackfin BF60x
core ARM Cortex-A8 ARM Cortex-A9 ARM Cortex-A5 ADI Blackfin DSP
number of cores 1 + 2 х PRU 2 1 2
coprocessor NEON SIMD + VFPv3 NEON SIMD + VFPv3 VFPv4 Pipeline Vision Processor (PVP)
FPGA - Xilinx Artix-7 (85K-cells) - -
processor frequency 300-1000 МГц 667-866 МГц 536 МГц 500 МГц
2D/3D accelerator PowerVR SGX530 logi3D IP core - Pixel Compositor (PIXC)
RAM 128-512 МБайт DDR3 128-1024 МБайт DDR3 128-512 МБайт DDR2 128-256 МБайт DDR2
NAND Flash 128-2048 МБайт 128-2048 МБайт 128-2048 МБайт -
SPI/QSPI Flash 128-8192 KБайт 4096-32768 KБайт 128-8192 KБайт 128-8192 KБайт
Ethernet 2 x GMAC 1Gbit 2 x GMAC 1Gbit 1 x GMAC 1Gbit + 1 x EMAC 100Mbit 2 x EMAC 100Mbit
Ethernet PHY 100 Mbit PHY - 1 Gbit PHY -
LCD interface 24-бит параллельный RGB (макс 2048 х 2048) 24-бит параллельный RGB (макс 2048 х 2048) 24-бит параллельный RGB (макс 2048 х 2048) 24-бит параллельный RGB (макс 2048 х 2048)
touch screen interface 4/5/8-линий ADC 4/5-линий XADC 4/5-линий ADC -
Parallel bus 16-бит GPMC Возможно через ПЛИС (FPGA) 16-бит EBI 16-бит SMC
USB 1 x USB 2.0 HS Host + 1 x USB 2.0 HS OTG 2 x USB 2.0 HS ULPI 2 x USB 2.0 HS Host + 1 x USB 2.0 HS Device 1 x USB 2.0 HS OTG
Camera Interface - 24-бит параллельный RAW (logiWIN) (макс 2048 х 2048) 12-бит параллельный RAW (макс 2048 х 2048) 24-бит параллельный RAW (макс 2048 х 2048)
UART (USART) 6 2 + На ПЛИС (FPGA) 6 2
SPI 2 2 + На ПЛИС (FPGA) 2 2
I2C 3 2 + На ПЛИС (FPGA) 3 2
CAN 2 2 + На ПЛИС (FPGA) 2 1
SD/MMC/eMMC 2 2 + На ПЛИС (FPGA) 3 1
RTC 1 - 1 -
GPIO да да да да
Audio 2 x McASP (I2S/TDM/DIT) На ПЛИС (FPGA) (logiI2S) 1 x SSP (I2S) 3 x SPORT (I2S/TDM/DSP)
Soft-modem - - 1 x SMD (Conexant soft modem) -
LED backlight driver 1 - - -
CPU temperature monitor - 1 - 1
Battery Controller 1 (Li-Ion) - - -
OS Support WEC 2013, Linux, Android, eCOS, FreeRTOS WEC 2013, Linux, Android, eCOS, FreeRTOS WEC 2013, Linux, Android, eCOS uClinux, eCOS, FreeRTOS
Dimensions (L x W) 55,6 x 45,6 мм 56 х 50 мм 82 х 55 мм 60 х 55 мм
Temperature Range Коммерческий (0..+70°С), Расширенный (-25..+70°С, Промышленный (-40..+85°С) Коммерческий (0..+70°С), Промышленный (-40..+85°С) Промышленный (-40..+85°С) Коммерческий (0..+70°С), Промышленный (-40..+85°С)
power +5В (+2.7В…+5.5В опция) +5В (+3.3В опция) +3.3В (+5В опция) +3.3В
Consumption (average) меньше 1 Вт 2..5 Вт меньше 1 Вт меньше 1 Вт

What is a single-board computer

A single-board computer (SOM, system-on-module) is a self-contained device constructed on a single circuit board. It resembles a motherboard of a standard PC but contains everything that is necessary for a fully-functional computer - GPU, CPU module, RAM and permanent memory, input/output systems, wired and wireless network modules, USB ports, etc. They are charged via a USB port with the help of mobile or tablet chargers. The one-board computers are available with a wide range of capacity and you can choose a suitable machine depending on your needs.

The key features of single-board computers

Computing capacity

An average SBC computer has a processor with one or more cores with frequency from several hundred to several thousand MHz depending on a model. Their RAM capacity varies from several hundred MB to 1 GB and more, and their permanent memory capacity is measured by gigabytes. You can expand their memory by connecting an SD card or a hard drive.

Multi-tasking

SBC PCs are powered by an operating system and can do several processes at a time. They support fully-functional OS like Linux, Ubuntu, Windows, or Android. Most of the devices have an embedded operating system that is cheaper and takes much less space.

Connecting to the Internet

By default, a computer-on-module has embedded network elements available out-of-the-box. So you can connect the COM computer to the Internet without any extra installations.

Battery capacity

A mini SOM board has a built-in battery that is charged via a USB port. The battery’s capacity is enough for several hours of performance.

Support of programming languages

By setting up an operating system, you get an almost unlimited choice of programming languages. The most common languages for a one-board PC are Python and JavaScript, yet you can choose your preferred one.

The advantages of an SBC computer

Cost-efficient

Generally, single-board PC is cheaper than the common desktop devices and laptops. Their manufacturing process is simpler, and they have shorter time-to-market periods. At the same time, the mini module computer efficiency is no worse than the common one, and it can perform the majority of tasks. An SBC board can easily be produced and even customized. It has a quick time to market compared to personal computers or laptops. Additionally, they consume less energy and can work autonomously for a longer time than traditional devices.

Flexible

Depending on the firmware, an embedded SBC can perform the functions of different devices. Their small weight and compact size allow to integrate them into devices with limited space and to use them for process control in complex robotic or IoT system. They have a rich choice of operating systems and programming environments, so it is possible to configure them for the different types of tasks.

Powerful

Despite the size, a mini single-board computer has enough capacity for performing the majority of automation tasks and the variety of their configurations allows to choose the machine for the different needs. Additionally, it is possible to multiply their computing power by uniting several devices into a cluster.

Reliable

SOM computers are all-in-one devices so that there are no separate hardware pieces that can get out of order and need repair. This means that the rugged single-board computer is easier to maintain and is more reliable even under trying environmental conditions.

Compact

A single-board microcomputer has a small size, and it can be embedded into the different devices even with very limited space. Taking into account that embedding is the primary way of using the SOM processor, their size is a significant advantage over traditional desktop computers and laptops.

One-board computer use cases

The configuration of a COM system is suitable for almost all standard computer tasks and their compact size allows to embed them to different devices and use them for different technical and business purposes.

Computer tasks

Depending on the firmware, you can use a COM device as a computer, modem, router, etc. You can use a single-board computer with Linux or Windows OS, as an ordinary computer with a common graphic interface for programming, web browsing, working with documents, listening to music, watching the videos (some models support even 1080p ones). You can install Android on the single-board computer for development and running Android applications as well.

It is possible to link the computers to clusters and unite their computer power - you will get something like a fully-functional computer cluster in a data center. You can also unite the computers into a network and manage them via a remote machine.

Robotics

It is possible to build a robot using a microprocessor module like Arduino. But you are planning to design a feature-rich machine, you will need more computational power and memory. The software you are working with will also become more complex and you will need a fully-functional programming environment of an operating system. In this case, SBCs as the brain of your robot will be the best choice.

For example, using an SBC CPU, you may build a walking robot with an embedded camera recording everything the machine ‘sees’. You can enhance its power by teaching the system to analyze and recognize the things, but it is far more complex programming that can be done using an embedded SBC board.

Computer vision

Using machine learning algorithms, it is possible to teach an SOM board to process and recognize digital images and videos. An SBC embedded into the different types of video surveillance products can perform a wide variety of tasks: recognize the faces, reconstruct the scenes, to restore the images, etc.

Since computer vision has a lot of applications in the different industries, the characteristics of the industrial SBC that will be used will vary as well.

Internet of things (IoT)

An IoT system is a set of devices that contain the piece of hardware that transmitting and exchanging the data with one another over the Internet. The computer or processor can be integrated into household appliances, industrial and medical equipment, surveillance systems, and the whole system can be managed via a desktop or mobile application.

Smart houses and smart cities are the most typical examples of real-time IoT solutions. This is a technology of the future since it can improve the efficiency of huge systems, reduce operational costs and open great business opportunities.

An industrial single-board computer will be a perfect choice for such tasks since they are easy-to-integrate, customize, and manage.

Things to consider when choosing an embedded SBC

Taking into account the number of computer-on-module manufacturers and configurations, choosing a single-board computer for your project might be confusing. Let’s see the main characteristics that will help to narrow your search.

Processor

The two major processor modules for embedded computers are ARM and Intel. ARM SBC is powered RISC-commands that contain the ready-made set of simple instructions. This restricts the processor flexibility of the ARM computers-on-module but multiplies the speed of data processing and reduces the energy expenditure. Intel x86 architecture is more universal and will suit almost every type of application, while ARM-based SBC requires a fine adjustment of hardware.

SBCs Memory

The most modern processors offer 16 GB to 32 GB of built-in memory. They need the most energy and will suit for the complex and consuming applications. But for the majority of projects the less consuming devices with less memory will be enough, so choose the processor according to your application requirements.

Compatibility

When choosing an SBC, one may want to pick the newest model. But it can be risky since the device may turn out to be not compatible with your application or not support the needs of your network. So, make sure that the device you choose is compatible with your system.

The most reliable way to choose a computer matching the demands of your system - designing a single-board computer for your custom needs. Here at Axonim, we will dive into your business, and build a device that will match its specific requirements.

Conclusion

In the nearest future, we will be surrounded by systems of smart devices that contain embedded processors and are powered by a single computer. That is why computers on a module are gaining their popularity and will become a must-have in the nearest future. Contact the Axonim team to get a free consultation on developing a custom single-board computer for your project.

 

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