The ability to transition between x86 and ARM embedded computer processors is critical for low-volume medical applications because a single carrier board – often the most costly component of a COM architecture – can suit the needs of both graphics-intensive systems and platforms that require more mobility and lower power. In addition to reducing Time-To-Market (TTM), this decreases Bill Of Materials (BOM) costs and eases Board Support Package (BSP) implementation, says Christoph Budelmann, General Manager, Budelmann Elektronik GmbH in Münster, Germany (www.budelmann-elektronik.com).
“Scalability is a key factor, especially for lower embedded computer volumes, and the Qseven standard offers the possibility to use the same baseboard with different processors depending on the user’s needs,” Budelmann says. “Some users only need a small control unit and prefer a simple ARM processor, whereas other customers want to implement large screens and need the graphical power of an x86 system. Of course, this can also be the case in medical applications. Even if the baseboard has to be adapted to very special demands, this is less complex than switching from a pure ARM platform to an x86 platform or vice versa. In the majority of cases, only some drivers, such as Ethernet PHY, have to be exchanged whereas the real application software can remain the same.”