Embedded computers are offered in many different form factors, including EPIC, Embedded ATX, Mini-ITX, 5.25”, EBX, 3.5”, PC/104, PC/104 plus, PCI 104, and even the LPX. But what is an embedded computer? An embedded computer is a device which has its own computing power dedicated to specific functions, usually a microprocessor and firmware. The computer becomes an integral part of the device as opposed to a stand alone computer. Embedded computers are similar to an industrial computer in that they both are all-in-one computers. The key difference is that an embedded PC does not require a backplane, allowing all peripheral functionality to be accomplished through the serial, parallel, USB, VGA/LCD, IDE, audio, solid state disks (SSD), and even PC/104 expansion connectors. An embedded computer can be provided in a low power fanless solution, it can also have the CPU embedded on board. These boards require that software integrate the peripheral functionality and operating system. The most common operating systems found on an embedded computer are WinCE, Windows XPe, Embedded Linux and many others. Ultimately, an embedded computer board is an all-in-one computer that is compact.
Like industrial computers, embedded computers are made to run 24/7 and withstand harsh environments including areas of intense vibration, high temperature, high humidity and dust.