Company : congatec Asia Ltd.

Category : Human Machine Interfaces (HMI)

Key Products : COM Express Server On Module, Industrial Computer On Modules, COM Express COM Modules / Mini ITX Motherboards, Embedded BIOS UEFI Platforms, IoT Gateway Devices

Which form factor to choose?

At the same time as Intel launched the new Apollo Lake processors, the SGET released the SMARC 2.0 specification, leading many engineers to wonder: “Which of the three credit card sized form factors should I choose – COM Express Mini, Qseven or SMARC 2.0?”

First off, here’s some reassurance – the well-known industry mantra “Never change a running system” still holds. Engineers who have designed their systems on the basis of COM Express Mini or Qseven have chosen a reliable platform and they can continue to work with both form factors for many years to come. But what is the recommendation for new system designs? What should those system designers consider? There is no easy answer to this question, and one needs some market insights to make a good decision. So let’s start with a brief look at the history of Computer-on-Modules (COMs) to see the entire picture.

High-performance at the edge of the IIoT

The Internet of Things and increasing network bandwidths are significantly changing the way applications are designed. Edge and fog computing provide extremely powerful server technology at the edge of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Server-on-Modules from congatec with Intel® Xeon® processor technology target precisely this application field.

Edge servers are deployed on the verges of the Internet. Because they perform important tasks for the network as well as the local applications, they are – in addition to IoT gateways – the most important building block for the IIoT. Fog computers fulfil very similar functions. But what exactly is fog computing? The term was coined in analogy to cloud servers: In contrast to clouds, fog settles in the valley. Clouds are high up in the network, fogs are low down at the local IIoT level. This sums up the difference between cloud and fog servers. Unlike edge servers, fog servers add real-time virtualization across multiple systems to the picture.

Modules for Servers

Computer modules are now empowered to be deployed in servers, a fact PICMG recognizes with the recent publication of the COM Express Type 7 specification. With the launch of this specification, congatec is now offering application-ready server-on-modules with Intel® Xeon® D processors.

The use of modules in servers has not been common until now, partly because server technology developers have had their own ideas about the specific hardware design of the systems, and partly because they had the volumes to justify developing dedicated systems. This is why there are currently a large number of dedicated systems with homogeneous designs in carrier networks and server farms.