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PC/104-plus closing in on PC/104

Mar 15, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

PC/104-Plus CPU module shipments will grow steadily through the next three years, approaching those of PC/104 itself, according to Venture Development Corp. (VDC). The research firm also expects shipments of PCI-104 CPU modules to grow, albeit much more slowly than originally anticipated.

PC/104 defines a 3.6 x 3.8 inch form-factor for self-stacking modules intended for use in embedded systems. The specification was authored in 1991 by Rick Lehrbaum, then CTO of single-board computer vendor Ampro (Lehrbaum went on to found LinuxDevices, and currently serves as executive editor here).

As the PCI bus began to replace the ISA bus in the mid to late 1990s, the PC/104 Consortium produced the PC/104-Plus specification, which added a PCI bus. According to Lehrbaum, “We added PCI on the opposite end of the module. So, you could have 8-, 16-, and 32-bit bus versions of the modules.”

Then, in February of 2004, the PC/104 Consortium created the PCI-104 specification, which eliminates the ISA bus entirely, thereby leaving more room on PC/104 modules for other subsystems.

According to VDC's latest findings, PC/104-Plus appears to be catching up with plain old PC/104. PC/104-Plus CPU module sales in 2005 trailed those of PC/104 CPU modules by $24 million — a gap the firm expects to shrink to $12.6 million by 2010.

2005 and 2010 PC/104 and PC/104-Plus CPU module market share
(Click to enlarge. Source: VDC

For 2006, VDC valued the entire PC/104 CPU module market at $145.2 million. Of that, the original PC/104 format accounted for just over half.

Total 2006 PC/104 CPU module shipments, segmented by module style
(Click to enlarge. Source: VDC)

Two years ago, VDC forecast an 18 percent marketshare for PCI-104 by 2008. However, PCI-104's early rapid adoption appears to be lagging behind VDC's expectations, despite the extra board room freed up by the spec's omission of the 104-pin ISA connector.

According to VDC, two years ago, “many expected that PCI-104 would be the architecture of popular choice among those wanting to make use of the PCI bus on PC/104 boards. However, it appears that the backwards compatibility with the ISA bus offered by PC/104-Plus in addition to PCI is more desirable than offering PCI with PCI-104 because ISA remains 'good enough' for many PC/104 applications.”

VDC's PC/104 data comes from the firm's tracking service entitled, “Merchant Computer Boards for Embedded/Real-Time Applications (McBREA): 2005-2006 Market Intelligence Program; Volume IV: Stackables (PC/104 Family, EBX, etc.).” For further details, visit VDC's website.

PC/104 and PC/104-Plus are industrial embedded board standards maintained by the PC/104 consortium.

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