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Why use Embedded PC ?
Economies of scale - low cost chipsets and peripherals.
Concurrent design - develop software on off-the-shelf boards while hardware is designed.
Combine custom and off-the-shelf hardware (PCI, MiniPCI, PC/104 etc).
Good design tools, open source operating systems and BIOS, most software engineers are familiar with the PC architecture.
Wide performance range (8088 to Pentium 4)
Small design risk - test your configuration using evaluation boards.
Why NOT use Embedded PC ?
Small handheld devices - the power consumption of embedded x86 CPUs is not competitive with CPUs optimized for handheld designs, such as various ARM derivatives.
Extremely cost sensitive applications - embedded x86 CPUs start around $20.
Embedded PC Form Factors
ATX etc.
system boards
Cheap, but large size, not very rugged, and questionable long term availability. BIOS usually not optimized for embedded use. Embedded suppliers: American Predator, Micro Industries, Radisys.
Passive backplane Most popular versions: ISA, PICMG, PISA. Somewhat higher cost. Available from many suppliers. Most suitable for rackmount and wallmount applications. Many products use regular desktop BIOS. Now a commodity market.
PC/104 and PC/104+ Compact package. High cost. PC/104 connectors are expensive, both for the component and for assembly. Replacing a board in the middle of a PC/104 stack is time-consuming. I/O cables require cabling inside your enclosure, a messy solution at best.
CompactPCI Rugged package. High cost both for boards and for the backplane. Most popular for telecommunication systems.
ETX, Dimm PC, X-Board Very compact module. Somewhat expensive connectors (ETX), very low cost connectors for Kontron Dimm PC and X-Board. Functionality and performance is limited by small board size. Customer specific base board for streamlined wiring. Good solution for moderate production volumes.

PC Engines can design custom base boards, and migrate your design to a true single board design when cost requires.

PC Engines
Custom Design
PC Engines can design custom single board computers for reduced unit cost at moderate to high production volumes. Customers receive full, royalty-free manufacturing rights.

Design and mechanicals can be streamlined to meet your requirements - minimize cabling and separate subassemblies.

Maintain control over manufacturing quality and long-term availability.

You can still use industry standard expansion such as miniPCI or PC/104 for flexibility.

Design Process
1 Define specification Joint definition of product specifications.
2 Component evaluation Select components based on specifications, performance, pricing and long-term availability. Assemble a test system from evaluation boards or commercial boards using these components, and verify system performance and stability.
3 Schematic design PC Engines will combine all functions into an OrCAD schematic for your design.
4 PCB layout This is the most critical part of the design: the PCB layout will determine stability, EMI, and manufacturability. PC Engines designs are usually hand-routed using Cadence Allegro or OrCAD Layout.
5 Prototyping Prototypes can be consigned by customer, or PC Engines can handle component purchasing, PCB fabrication and assembly.
6 Debug and test With clean schematics and layout, this stage is usually painless. PC Engines designs always include suitable access points to simplify debug.
7 BIOS adaptation With PC Engines tinyBIOS, the customer receives a low-cost solution that is optimized for embedded applications.
8 Customer test "Trust, but verify."
9 Compliance test Most EMI and safety issues can be avoided through proper PCB layout. EMI compliance depends on the design of the enclosure, and must be tested by the customer.
10 Production support PC Engines can supply assembled and tested boards for small to medium volume, or work with your contract manufacturer to bring up volume production. PC Engines can provide functional test software and fixtures to streamline the manufacturing test process.
Flexible Services
PC Engines can provide services during most stages of your design process, ranging from limited consulting, detailed design reviews and coaching, to full turnkey design or even turnkey production.
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