Visit the National Electronics Week web site

What is the future for PC/104?

A Sensoray product story
More from this companyMore from this category
Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Jul 4, 2006

The PC99 specification recently released by Intel and Microsoft has left many engineers wondering if the days of the venerable PC/104 interface are numbered.

The PC/104+ standard was introduced in 1996 by the PC/104 Consortium, adding a PCIbus to the existing ISAbus found on PC/104 boards, and enabling higher performance processors to be used in embedded applications.

The PC/104+ standard was readily accepted because of its (arguably) most endearing feature: full compatibility with PC/104.

For example, Sensoray's model 322 CRT/LCD adapter implements a "pure" PC/104+ interface, but it also includes an integrated PC/104 pass-through connector so that PC/104 boards may be freely inserted anywhere in the stack.

Since the introduction of the PC/104+ standard, PC/104 boards have lived in harmony with PC/104+ boards in countless embedded systems.

More recently, the PC99 specification released by Intel and Microsoft has left many engineers wondering if the days of the venerable PC/104 interface are numbered.

The specification would seem to make the ISAbus, and by association, the PC/104bus, relics of the past.

This is a matter of great interest to engineers because the imminent demise of PC/104 would force many designers to abandon their foundational PC/104 IP and switch to "pure" PC/104+ platforms for new designs.

In a variation of Mark Twain's famous quip: "rumours of the death of PC/104 have been greatly exaggerated".

The majority of today's PC/104 modules are still based on the workhorse ISAbus, with a steady stream of new products being released for both the PC/104 and PC/104+ interface.

This trend will continue for the foreseeable future because PC/104 boards are fully compatible with PC/104+ stacks, and just as important, PC/104 boards often cost less and are simpler and more reliable than pure PC/104+ solutions.

And despite the popularity of the PCIbus and the impending extinction of ISA on desktop PCs, embedded PC/104+ systems continue to liberally use both bus types: PCI for high speed transfers (eg video and storage applications), and ISA for applications that don't require the higher bandwidth, such as analogue I/O, digital I/O, machine control etc.

It is likely that the PC/104+ bus will gain favour with developers as technologies progress and needs change, but the large number of currently available PC/104 products and the industry's willingness to continue to support this technology clearly indicate that PC/104 is here to stay.

Send to a friendSend to a friend

Not what you're looking for? Search the site.

Back to top Back to top


Add to My Alerts

Company Sensoray

Category PC-Compatible Boards, Assemblies

Google Ads

Contact Sensoray

Contact Sensoray

Related Stories

Contact Sensoray

Newsletter sign up

Request your free weekly copy of the Electronicstalk email newsletter ...

Visit the National Electronics Week web site
A Pro-talk Publication

A Pro-talk publication