Boards/Backplanes

Embedded peripherals start to make their mark

10th July 2018
Mick Elliott

The idea of embedded peripherals (EP) is not new and in the past it has usually been the motherboard manufacturers, and to lesser extent distributors, that stock a limited product range of Input/Output (I/O) products to expand board capability. For a board manufacturer to include every I/O port is not economically viable, so purchasing teams are now buying basic boards and adding the relevant peripherals to achieve the solution required, often with significant cost savings.

Taiwanese manufacturer, Innodisk, is a major force in the global EP market although the company’s history lies deep in industrial grade memory and storage. Innodisk was the first module house to launch a complete series of EPs to cover all I/Os required on the motherboard.

With its heritage in memory and storage and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, the company started to develop various EP modules on the request of existing customers looking for small production runs.

As a result, Innodisk has now refined and developed an extensive catalogue of EPs. This new way of thinking encouraged system integrators to modulise their I/Os, so that they could focus on core competence such as CPU and software development.

Having a state-of-the-art and innovative manufacturing facility also helped the production process and Innodisk was quick to adapt production lines to include EPs. As a result, the company is now a leading manufacturer of I/O embedded peripherals.

Its product catalogue comprises of some fifty different modules covering; storage, disk array, display, communication and testing.

Embedded Peripherals are designed as building blocks on top of existing motherboards as they offer flexibility for additional I/O expansion without any redesign.  

All it takes is a slot for mPCIe or an M.2 space and the customer can easily add a module, then another and another….the combinations are limitless.

I/O modularisation achieves the small-volume and large-variety customization service that certain customers require for bespoke applications.

EPs have many different types of expansion slots such as LAN, CAN, PoE, Serial, USB and RAID enabling the connection of a multitude of different devices. A simple, small, bolt-on EP can often be the difference between the success and failure of a project.

Buying third-party modules has clear benefits; faster time to market (no redesign of the motherboard); No minimum order quantities (MOQs) meaning custom projects become more feasible (redesigns usually involve an MOQ) and easier bill of materials (BOM) management, which is becoming more important in the IoT world where custom projects are growing exponentially.

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