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How to Choose the Right Industrial Computer

Choosing the right industrial computer depends on the required computing performance, the environment in which the computer will be deployed, the computer's space, power supply, and required connectivity features.

1. Performance

The CPU is the heart of every industrial computer, and it is responsible for the overall performance of the industrial computing solution you choose. Therefore, it is imperative to choose a processor that can handle any task and workload.

In order to save the overall cost of industrial computers, people often want to take a shortcut in the CPU. However, choosing a less powerful processor can result in poor performance, slowing down your workflow and causing downtime. Therefore, when choosing the right CPU for your industrial computer, you should choose a powerful option to ensure a stable and uninterrupted workflow.

Industrial computers come in a variety of CPU options, from quad-core Intel® Core™ processors to 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processors. Intel processors are popular among industry professionals for the performance and reliability they offer. If a small industrial computer is required to power devices such as IoT gateways or energy-saving kiosks, a device like the Intel® Core™ J1900 processor is sufficient for such applications. However, suppose you need to deploy an industrial edge PC for automated inspection and intelligent monitoring; having more cores on a single silicon chip will help to better consolidate workloads. You will benefit greatly from choosing an Intel® Core™ i3, i5 or i7 processor, as such tasks require the enormous processing power these processors provide. Intel Core series processors have many features built directly into the silicon, allowing users to maximize performance, especially in enterprise deployments.

Also, being familiar with the difference between SoCs and Socket CPUs will help you choose the right CPU option for your workload.

SOC (System on Chip) and Socket Computer

A system on chip (SoC) is an integrated circuit that combines all the components of a computer onto a single substrate. For example, with an SoC, the CPU, RAM, and GPU are all on one chip. SoCs tend to be low power and extremely compact, making them ideal for applications such as IoT gateways and edge computing.

Socket CPUs, on the other hand, tend to be more powerful and offer better performance than SoCs because they have more cores and can operate at higher temperatures. That said, SoCs still have a place in industrial workloads due to their high efficiency and optimal size, which offer great flexibility for industrial applications and IoT deployments that require low-power computing performance.

2. Environment

The industrial computer you choose depends on the deployment environment of the computer. Some people choose to deploy a regular desktop computer in an environment of extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust and debris, and then wonder why the computer fails so quickly. This environment requires an industrial computer to handle the volatile environment in which the system will be deployed.

Embedded industrial computers are designed and manufactured with ruggedness in mind, allowing them to be deployed in environments of extreme hot or cold temperatures, vibration, shock, dust and debris.

Rugged industrial computers survive such environments thanks to their fanless, cable-free, and rugged designs. By eliminating fans and vents in industrial computer systems, industrial computer manufacturers have eliminated the possibility of dust and debris entering the system and causing internal component failure. The result is an ultra-reliable industrial computing solution that minimizes downtime and enables you to run your operations reliably 24/7.

3. Application

Choosing the right industrial PC depends on the application you need your industrial PC to perform. For example, industrial computers are often deployed in industrial environments as workstations and human-machine interfaces in manufacturing plants, food processing plants, farms, warehouses, transportation nodes, medical institutions, hazardous locations, and various other locations.

The industrial computer you choose will depend on the intensity and number of applications you want the system to perform. The larger the application and the more demanding the software, the more computing power you need to keep the system running smoothly and reliably.

With the rapid development and progress of the Internet of Things, rough edge industrial computing becomes more and more important. This is so because some applications require data processing and analysis at the edge of the network, which is where industrial computers come in. Since data does not need to be transmitted over long distances, edge computers can perform data processing, analysis, and decision-making in real-time, thereby supporting many applications that require such processing and analysis.

4. Connectivity

After figuring out the computing power needed, the environment the industrial computer will be in, and the applications it will run, it is time to consider the connectivity options for configuring the system.

Having an industrial computing solution with robust connectivity is critical to connecting your system to the various sensors, inputs, networks and accessories you may have. The industrial computer can be configured with the following connectivity options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6, 4G, 5G and 10GbE LAN ports.

In addition, the industrial computer is equipped with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, allowing your system to connect smart IoT sensors and transfer data at 10Gb speed. Additionally, if you have legacy technology, your industrial computing solution can be configured with serial ports, which are still used today due to their reliability and flexibility.

The ability to expand I/O through modular daughter boards increases the flexibility of our industrial computing systems, allowing you to add a variety of additional ports, including LAN RJ45/M12, serial ports, USB ports, DP ports and DIO ports.

Bluetooth is commonly used to connect industrial computing equipment with one or more sensors and/or devices. 4G and 5G are used to connect devices to the Internet when it is not possible to connect to the Internet through a wired connection or Wi-Fi. No matter which connectivity options you need, the system can be configured to your specific needs.

5. Storage, memory and expansion

When choosing an industrial computer, the last item that should be considered is the storage solution required for the workload. Industrial computers can be configured with standard hard disk drives (hdd) and solid state drives (ssd). If there is a need to run general applications that do not require real-time access, the system can be configured with mechanical drives.

However, if high-speed access to localized storage is required, the system should be equipped with an SSD. Solid-state drives provide extremely fast data transfer speeds, enabling real-time data processing and decision-making. Additionally, equipping a system with a solid state drive can make the system more reliable and resistant to frequent shocks and vibrations compared to a hard drive, since there are no moving platters in a solid state drive that can be damaged.

Additionally, if the latest is high-speed storage is required, you can configure your system with M.2 nvme storage solutions. NVMe drives plug directly into the PCIe protocol, giving you blazing fast data transfer speeds. NVMe drives have write speeds of up to 2500 MB/s and read speeds of up to 3500 MB/s. That said, regular SSDs and HDDs still have their place, as they offer enormous storage capacity, which is a requirement for some businesses and organizations in their storage infrastructure.

Also, you should consider how much RAM or memory you want to equip your industrial PC with. RAM has a great impact on the performance of the system. The more RAM, the smoother the system's performance, as it can cache data closer to the CPU's processing architecture faster. RAM is an extremely fast short-term storage device that allows your CPU to access the data and applications you are using. The more memory you have, the more applications and data you can load, so it can be accessed faster, speeding up your industrial computing solutions.

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