The Kontron HORIZON104 System

PC/104 Meets the 19-Inch Rack Mount Chassis

Marrying the world of PC/104 with the 1U rack-mount chassis realm, Kontron’s new HORIZON104 system is designed for customers requiring a wide temperature range, high shock and vibration tolerance, low power use, and the most COTS I/O slots possible in an economical 1U 19-inch rack mount chassis. It is capable of integrating five PC/104 I/O boards-two for PCI or ISA and three ISA-only. The backplane also provides one plug-in location for a CPU board. Each board is hard-mounted to either the chassis or the backplane, using one screw at each of the board’s four corners.


Semiconductor integration is driving higher functionality at the board level, which in turn is encouraging development of smaller racks packing more computing and I/O into smaller spaces. Despite these trends, the 1U rack-mount chassis computing market has offered little to date for rugged military and industrial applications.

Why? Most 1U rack chassis products are “soft” commodities catering to the server market. Few products in the PCI/ISA space can tolerate environments that are less than ideal and not air-conditioned. They support few I/O boards. CPU boards in this market also tend to be adapted from motherboards geared mainly toward the server market, containing the latest, fastest microprocessors with rigorous cooling demands. Extended temperature range boards are rare in this space.

Kontron’s HORIZON104 System

The shortcomings of 1U rack chassis computers stand in contrast to the strengths of PC/104 embedded board products. Blessed with a wide range of off-the-shelf, rugged, extended temperature products, the PC/104 standard form factor has grown tremendously popular with military embedded system designers, for example. For shipboard, vehicle-based and a variety of other military applications, 19-inch rack-mount chassis computer systems are the norm by far.

Because they are geared for distinctly different uses, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the worlds of PC/104 and 19-inch rack-mount chassis have to date failed to meet. To wed the advantages of the PC/104 form factor with those of 1U rack mount chassis, engineers at Kontron developed a system placing PC/104 in a horizontal plane.

Best of Both Worlds

Called HORIZON104, the Kontron system is a 1U rack chassis capable of integrating five separate PC/104 industrial I/O boards-two for PCI or ISA and three ISA-only. The backplane also provides one plug-in location for a CPU board. It enables deployment of full data acquisition, monitoring, control, and communications boards in a single, shallow 1U x 19-inch rack mount, saving valuable rack space.

Each HORIZON104 board is hard-mounted to either the chassis or the backplane, using one screw at each of the board’s four corners. This results in a stronger design, capable of withstanding a greater degree of shock and vibration than the traditional PC/104 stack or single rear-bracket secured PCI/ISA board designs. This horizontal design takes full advantage of the more secure PC/104 connectors. The concept is analogous to building a one-story house with steel girders designed for skyscrapers -- resulting in more ruggedness, both vertically and horizontally.

By placing low-power PC/104 boards in a horizontal plane, the system features more efficient cooling than is possible in cramped stacked designs or traditional 1U PCI/ISA systems. In addition to the power supply fan, the HORIZON104 has two front-mounted cooling fans drawn through an industrial re-usable filter with over 20 CFM of cooling. Because the PC/104 boards require low power, a full system uses only half of the 100W power supply available to the system.

Flexible I/O Access

The HORIZON104 has one front mounted drive mount, if required, for CDROM, CD-ROM/ floppy combo, or removable drive bay. An internal 2.5-inch drive bay allows mounting of either laptop or auto industry rugged hard drives. For solid state drive solutions, the drive bay, PC/104 board slot or USB can be used. PC/104 I/O exits the chassis from pre-made I/O panels reached internally from board cables.

Six rear I/O panels and two front I/O panels allow flexible front and rear I/O solutions for both CPU I/O, such as video, keyboard, mouse, USB, Ethernet, reset, speaker, serial and parallel connections. PC/104 I/O can be DB9, DB25, DB37, GPIB or ribbon cables, as well as custom connectors. The user can mount specific connectors as required, as opposed to board slot locations only.

For more information visit www.kontron.com/PC104

Low Power Discipline, Wide Operating Range

PC/104 boards bring a number of benefits to a 1U rack-mount solution. Because PC/104 boards are designed to be stacked, their designs tend to involve use of lower-power CMOS components. By contrast, PCI card designs common in 1U servers lack such discipline-even half-height designs.

Because PC/104 cards are nearly all low power, a typical five I/O card horizontal PC/104 system with an Intel® Pentium® III processor will probably draw a mere 30 to 40W for the whole system-including disk drive, CD drive, I/O cards, and CPU card. And some applications could require only 15 to 20W. The HORIZON104 features a 1U ATX type 100W 110/220 AC power supply.

With standard system operation of 0° to 60° C, the chassis was designed for optional extended temperature operation as well as various DC power options. With the standard version of the system, humidity is rated at 5 to 95 percent RHNC and operates at altitudes of 10,000-feet. Shock/vibration specs are 30g acceleration peak (11ms pulse) and 5 to 7Hz 0.5-inch double amplitude displacement and 7 to 2000Hz 2g acceleration.

The design supports also capability options with ruggedization specs higher than the standard version.

Contact Information

14118 Stowe Dr
Poway, CA 92064-7147
858.677.0877 Telephone
858.677.0898 Fax