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Embedded Chips Stay Strong

Posted on January 6th, 2016 by ScienceDude

The embedded market is a mammoth one for processors. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, thirty 16- to 32-bit processors are sold into the embedded market for every one that reaches the desktop market, resulting in 1.3 billion units versus 78 million units, respectively.

chipsPCs on a chip do the same job as ZF MicroSystem’s chip, and more, but at a significantly higher cost, says ZF MicroSystems. Today, PCs for industrial applications run at about $2,000 to $3,000, with a heat and sink fan. The company says that the NetDisplay PC will cost about half that much, or less.

Why? Because the SCC uses 386 or 486 chips, rather than Pentium chips. And though the entire computer consists of some 40 components, including the design board, license bios, a DOS operating system and Windows, since it is all mounted on a single board, OEMs can save six to nine months of development, says the company. The OEMmodule provides one-piece, PC-compatible functionality in a credit-card sized package which is ready to run on power up.

Most applications the two companies are eying, they say, don’t require the processing power of a Pentium. Many are simple searches. ZF MicroSystem’s computer-on-a-chip adds just enough processing power, for example, to medical instruments like blood analyzers. Furthermore, because designers of such systems are often not also experts at designing PCs, about 65 percent of application ideas are scrapped after they hit the drawing board, says David Feldman, president of ZF MicroSystems. Many don’t want to run the risk of designing in-house, but need fast time to market. With its smaller size, the NetDisplay PC can be more easily integrated into larger systems and, if necessary, be hermetically sealed inside. Moreover, says ZF MicroSystems, the SCC eliminates the need for assorted connectors and mounting hardware usually required by single-board computers.

The NetDisplay PC comprises an FPD, which sits on a base containing the SCC, along with a mounting bracket, to integrate into OEM products. The SCC mounts to a circuit board just like a conventional IC, and is complete with integral main memory, BIOS and an OS. The subassembly includes an Ethernet port, for networking multiple units.

The 240-pin OEMmodule SCC, which handles standard motherboard functions, features a fully-integrated PC/AT, 33 or 40MHz 80386SX CPU, DRAM controller, core logic, 8- or 16-bit ISA busing and serial and parallel I/O ports. It also incorporates an ISA-PC/104 bus, floppy and IDE disk controllers, AT-compatible BIOS, an embedded version of DOS, and an internal flash memory for application and data storage.

Among systems that already incorporate the OEMmodule SCC are fare collection boxes in Buenos Aires buses, which perform a variety of other tasks including making change, logging passenger traffic and, even, monitoring the engine. Other possibilities include name search systems in office building lobbies and bedside video poker terminals in casino hotel rooms. Any application in an industry seeking information on consumer behavior is a possibility: one credit card swipe collects and tracks information about the buyer.

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