ATX Motherboard or SBC? That’s One Tough Call.

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I’ve configured and provided thousands of ATX Motherboard and Single Board custom-configured Industrial PCs over my 10 years in Industrial Automation. ATX Motherboards and Single Board Computers (SBC) provide two distinct solutions for Industrial Computer System users. With variables such as peripherals, I/O, ease of access and form factor to keep in mind, there is a necessity for one or the other depending on your system requirements.

There are certain applications where ATX Motherboards are the best answer. For the customers focused on an economical configuration, fewer I/O slots and ease of access, ATX Motherboards are a nice fit. They create great airflow due to more chassis space and provide better cabling options to the end user. There are also legacy PICMG 1.0 ATX Motherboards with ISA slots, which is an important requirement for a lot more users than you’d think.

Then there are projects where a Single Board Computer is the go-to option. An SBC provides the user with access of up to 20 I/O slots, allowing them to configure their system with a predetermined amount of ISA, PCI and PCIe slots. Customers looking for ISA slots are also better off with an SBC since most ATX Motherboards containing them have been discontinued. When you are in a space crunch, SBCs are great with desktop, wall mount and “shoebox” chassis, allowing for a smaller form factor solution.

At the end of the day, it’s still a tough call on what to go with but the following might make it a little easier to decide.

Advantages of Utilizing a ATX Motherboard:

  • Economically feasible since SBC and passive backplane aren’t required
  • Correct choice for minimal I/O application
  • Ease of direct access to main board, where every component is located
  • Lack of I/O slots, SBC and passive backplane create more room for air flow

Advantages of Utilizing a Single Board Computer:

  • Larger amount of I/O slots available for I/O-intensive applications
  • Access to Legacy ISA slots, which have become discontinued in most ATX Motherboards
  • Desktop, Wall Mount and “Shoebox” chassis allow for space and footprint flexibility
  • PICMG 1.0 and PICMG 1.3 compatibility enable user to select platform based on I/O requirements

I do hope that the above information about ATX Motherboards & Single Board Computers has been helpful to you. If you have any questions about this or anything Industrial Automation, please contact me!

 

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About the Author:

Jeremy Miller is L-Tron’s Industrial Automation and Advantech Product Specialist. Jeremy is highly trained and brings over 10 years of experience in the industrial control, data acquisition and test & measurement markets. Jeremy holds Advantech certifications in: Industrial Platform, Industrial Operator Panel, Automation Controller & I/O, Industrial Communication, & Automation Software. Jeremy can be reached at 800-830-9523 ext 126; jeremy.miller@L-Tron.com