Benefits of Standardization with Computer on Modules

By ADLINK Technology

Only a decade ago, most embedded OEM projects where based on one-off-designs when computer components were concerned. Unusually shaped boards with uncommon and proprietary peripherals were built into the equipment that these boards where meant to control and monitor. All these board designs were very different, but they all had one thing in common: all system cores where based on a CPU with system memory and a chipset to support most standard PC functions to enable the product to communicate with the real world and store system data. All uniquely designed systems have their unique problems that need to be uniquely diagnosed, debugged, and solved. The same system core may be designed and debugged over and over for different systems. IT professionals believed this method to be most suitable for automation.

At that time, standard form factors such as ATX and half- and full-sized SBC were available; however their over-standardization and form factor limitations restricted their application area to small and medium quantity designs where space is not an issue. When used in embedded projects, bulky wiring complicates assembly and greatly affects MTBF values. Only with the emergence of the Computer on Modules design some 7 years ago, was the right synergy achieved for successful large scale deployment in embedded OEM projects. The Computer on Module concept is still the only form factor today that allows OEM to standardize their system core while not giving up the possibility of achieving a fully unique application with their custom-built carriers.

Benefits of Standardization

Many of the benefits of standardization are due to mass production, as standardization results in far greater quantities of core modules than the dedicated designs of 10 years ago. A single core module today can be used in many different projects.

  • Reduces cost: mass production equals a better price performance ratio
  • Improves quality: mass production equals higher product quality
  • Improves negotiating power for the buyer: standards drive product differentiation and competition toward price
  • and service and away from features. This gives buyer both better pricing and better support.
  • Standard architectures (x86): allows software teams to develop new applications faster with fewer people.
  • Scalable and flexible: more module offerings can be applied to the same platform.

Collaborative Cooperation

With today’s global economy, companies are faced with the necessity of an even faster time to market at a reduced cost. Outsourcing has become the key to achieve this. With it, the importance of product standardization, and specifically open standards, has become very apparent. COM Express, the first truly open Computer on Module form factor specification by PICMG, exhibits the uniqueness of the concept. Open standards can be paired with a customer’s propriety in-house designed carrier board to still create a very unique product value.

Standardization and open standards are the basic requirements for the new trend in product design called “Collaborative Innovation”. Collaborative Innovation is a response to customer demand for closer cooperation within their ecosystem partners who design and manufacture the standard building blocks for their products. Customers nowadays require Collaborative Innovation to achieve better design and production efficiency by acquiring better product knowledge and support from their vendors. Customers demand a tighter integration of people, skills, and knowledge across company boundaries. It benefits a supplier to be closely involved in mechanical and thermal issues, even when the customer is taking care of carrier board design and packaging of the product internally.


ADLINK has been one of the contributing members of the PICMG COM Express sub committee responsible for developing this new and exciting open form factor for Computers on Modules. ADLINK’s complete Computer on Module product family includes ETX modules for PCI/ISA oriented designs, and COM Express modules based on PCI Express or PCI bus and compliant with the PICMG COM Express form factor.


Contact Information

ADLINK Technology Inc.

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