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What is an Embedded Computer?

An embedded computer is a computer that runs within a larger device or system rather than as a stand-alone computer. It is often used to perform a specific function and is widely used in industrial automation, in-vehicle computing, digital signage, robotics, etc.

Traditional computers are often thought of as large rectangular black boxes with wires on the back and vents on the sides to dissipate heat. However, as technology has advanced, the size and design of computer systems have changed dramatically. Modern business embedded computers bear little resemblance to traditional tower computers. What's more, the way embedded computers are used in the industry has also changed.

What is an embedded computer?

Embedded computer systems have many names, such as Box PC, gateway, controller, industrial PC, etc. Embedded computers are essentially computer systems designed for a specific purpose and implemented as part of a larger device, intelligent system or installation. Embedded PCs cover many types of computers, including industrial PCs, ruggedized PCs, and edge servers, among others.

Embedded computers come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny ARM-based devices for quietly collecting and forwarding data, to all-in-one solutions for bulldozers and military equipment. In the growing Internet of Things, embedded computing plays a key role in enabling connections between machines, people, places, things and the cloud.

At SINSMART, we use embedded computers such as enclosure computers for underwater robots, complex digital signage displays and the heart of modern interactive kiosks. In your daily life, you may pass many embedded computers, and you may not know they exist.

The use of embedded computers has many advantages. Embedded computers offer the following key advantages over traditional consumer-grade hardware:

Miniaturization: Embedded computers often feature small motherboards (such as Mini-ITX or Intel NUC), which can be installed in places where traditional tower computers cannot. At the same time, solid-state storage and flexible mounting options allow the embedded PC to be used in virtually any position or orientation.

Low Maintenance Costs: In many cases, embedded computers are located deep within complex systems, so reliability is paramount. Industrial and embedded computers are designed to run 24/7, and they often feature specially designed enclosures to protect internal components from environmental damage such as dust, airborne debris, extreme temperatures, and vibration.

Efficient cooling: Traditional computer systems use fans to help cool components. And in embedded systems, fans can be a potential point of failure. Additionally, the fans require chassis ventilation so that air can circulate. Although some embedded PCs still use fans, with the advancement of passive cooling technology, many industrial PCs can be cooled without fans and vents. Removing fans reduces failure rates, eliminates noise and provides better reliability for integrated systems.

Specific Purpose: An embedded computer is designed to perform a specific task or function. They can be customized and optimized to provide optimum performance and functionality according to the needs of a specific application. For example, embedded computers in the field of industrial automation usually have a wide range of IO interfaces and protocol support to communicate with various sensors, actuators, and other devices.

Low power consumption: Embedded computers typically employ low-power processors and components to minimize power consumption. This is very important for applications that need to run for a long time or rely on battery power. Low power consumption also helps to reduce heat generation and improve system stability.

An embedded computer is a computer embedded in a device or system to perform a specific function. They offer advantages such as miniaturization, low maintenance cost, efficient cooling, application specificity and low power consumption. Embedded computers are widely used in various fields and provide critical support for modern technology and automation systems.

How to choose the best embedded PC?

Selecting the most suitable embedded computer requires a thorough understanding of the specific application. Since there are many different variables, there is no one-size-fits-all embedded solution that works for all situations. Here are some considerations to help you choose the best embedded PC:

Application Requirements: First, define the requirements of your application. Determine the level of performance, processing power, storage capacity, input/output interfaces, communication protocols, etc. you need. Consider any special features or customization options your application requires.

Reliability and Environmental Requirements: Consider the environment in which the embedded computer will operate. If it will be operating under harsh conditions such as high temperature, high humidity, vibration or dust environments, then you need to choose an embedded PC with appropriate protection and industrial-grade durability.

Dimensions and Installation Requirements: Determine available space and installation requirements. Embedded computers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, including boards, chassis, and embedded modules. Make sure the embedded PC you choose can fit within the space constraints in the target device or system.

Support and scalability: Check out the technical support and software support available from embedded computer vendors. Find out if reliable documentation, driver and firmware updates are available. In addition, consider the scalability of the embedded PC in order to meet possible demand expansion in the future.

Cost-effectiveness: Consider cost-effectiveness according to budget. Not only should the price of the embedded computer itself be considered, but also its long-term running cost, maintenance cost and upgrade cost. Choose an embedded PC with good price/performance ratio to meet your needs.

Supply Chain Stability: Select a supplier whose products and solutions have a good reputation in the market and have a stable supply chain. This will ensure you have access to support and replacement parts when needed.

Finally, communicate with embedded computer suppliers and share your needs and application scenarios to obtain customized suggestions and solutions. They can provide professional advice based on your requirements and help you choose the best embedded PC.

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