Single board computers are small circuit boards that have all the components necessary to function as a complete digital computer. We do not see them often and when we do, we have a hard time recognizing them. However, most of us must have used a single board computer in one form or another. These components are often embedded in cell phones, fax machines, GPS receivers and other electronic products that make use of computer technology.
Electronic products are not the largest market for single board computers. They find wider use in industrial applications. Such computers are called industrial single board computers, or simply industrial computers. They are used for a variety of industrial functions. Most of these computers are embedded in industrial machines that perform complex tasks, while others are arranged in a rack-mount format and are used for data acquisition and processing, as well as in product research and development.
Industrial single board computers are different than your regular home or office desktop computers. They are even quite different from other single board computers embedded in electronic products. These differences are dictated by their industrial functions. Industrial single board computers are usually designed to perform a solitary task, unlike desktop computers that are for multitasking. Because they are used in industrial processes, industrial single board computers are specifically designed to withstand various industrial factors such as shocks, vibrations, humidity, electromagnetic interference, radio frequency interference, dust, flash and mist.
Looking at the history, most industrial single board computers were initially manufactured in-house or by companies that use them. There are several reasons for this. First, industrial single board computers are often used for company-specific applications, so companies find it more practical to hire engineers to manufacture their own single board computers m rather than let another company manufacture single board computers for them.
Another reason is the lack of standards for single board computers, so the development in a particular single board computer does not necessarily affect other single board computers. Everything changed, however, when PCs began conquering the computer world. Shortly after the PC dominated the computer scene, standards for single board computers started to appear. These standards gave rise to the creation of off-the-shelf single board computers that conform to particular standards and can be programmed to perform specific tasks.
Because these single board computers cost less and are usually updated with new technologies, many companies have opted to use them rather than develop their own industrial single board computers. Some companies still opt for custom single board computers and purchase them from manufacturers rather than develop them in-house.
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