Consumer-Driven Obsolescence

Dec. 6, 2010
The Consumer Market Drives Advances, but Also a Shortened Life

A nice inheritance has its benefits, but can often come with strings attached. Industrial computers owe much to the advances made on behalf of consumer PCs, but they also inherit the built-in obsolescence that goes with the technology.

"On one side, tremendous advances have been made to offer extraordinary price/performance for components essential to the control industry," says Bob Burckle, vice president at WinSystems ( "On the other side, these parts are abandoned quickly as technology moves on to even greater functionality and complexity." That might fly in consumer circles, but a two- to three-year retirement rate isn't quite so desirable on the factory floor.

Intel's Atom processor has become particularly popular in the latest industrial PCs. Customers are requesting energy-efficient CPUs, notes Bjoern Falke, lead product specialist for automation marketing at Phoenix Contact (, and the Atom processor provides that.

"We see a clear increase of Atom processors in current and upcoming devices," agrees Stephan Stricker, product manager for B&R Industrial Automation ( "The very attractive price and high temperature range makes these CPUs ideal for the industrial market."

Another benefit for industrial PCs driven by the consumer market is the falling price of very large (42 in. or larger) LCDs, notes Steve Schott, president of Comark (, making them feasible for use in manufacturing. "The large displays enable information to be displayed to a number of people such as a workcell team," he says.

Got a Lot
GOT-5000 fanless touch panel computer supports Intel Atom N270 or AMD Geode LX800 processor in LCD sizes 5.7-12.1 in. IP65-rating and NEMA 4 sealed-front bezel provides protection, and aluminum back chassis provides thermal stability. It has 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet, a Mini Card slot or Mini PCI slot and a built-in WLAN antenna for wireless LAN/GPRS/GSM/3G connections, a 2.5 in. SATA HDD and a CompactFlash slot, rich I/O for peripheral connectivity and an overcurrent protection fuse.
Axiomtek; +886-2-29174550;
Open for Business
PPC3-G-6.5 open-frame PC operates from -20 to +70 °C and includes a resistive touchscreen integrated into a 2 in. deep chassis. The 6.5 in. color TFT flat panel display with 640 x 480 pixel resolution has luminance of 500 nits, a wide viewing angle, and a contrast ratio of 600:1. A PC/104-Plus SBC is the computing and display engine and contains the flat panel video controller, Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, 4 COM channels, LPT, AC97 audio, 48 lines of digital I/O, and CompactFlash connector.
WinSystems; 817/274-7553;
Cool Runnings
Panel PC 800 performance ranges from Atom N270 to Core 2 Duo processors with 15 in. XGA and 19 in. SXGA touchscreen displays. Units with Core 2 Duo processors require no fan—the chipset, processor and other components are connected directly to a heat sink using heat-conductive materials. Options include up to two PCI and PCI Express slots, modular drives and additional fieldbus interfaces. An integrated UPS allows the system shutdown without data loss.
B&R Industrial Automation; 770/772-0400;
Embedded Control
Using the latest CE 6.0 embedded software environment and Atmel AT91SAM9263 microcontroller with a 32-bit ARM instruction set, Relio R9 has up to 256 MB RAM and 256 MB Flash, and an enclosure suitable for mounting almost anywhere in a -40 to 85 °C operating range. For local or remote I/O expansion, it connects to Sealevel SeaI/O modules via RS-485 expansion port and communicates via RS-485 Modbus RTU.
Sealevel Systems; 864/843-4343;
Extreme Control
4823CX PC has a 15 in. LED-backlit LCD and glass-on-glass resistive touchscreen, and handles extreme temperatures and industrial conditions. It has an Intel Atom processor, as well as optional Bluetooth, GPS, speakers, camera, microphone, Wi-Fi antenna, battery and charger. It is rated NEMA 4X and FM-approved pending Div 2 and Zone 2 ATEX rating.
Daisy Data Displays; 717/932-9999;
Raid the Data
C6930 IPC has a 3½ in. Beckhoff Motherboard for Intel Core Duo or Core 2 Duo processors, and offers high data security through an integrated RAID system for mirroring hard disks, and up to three Ethernet ports. Cooling fan cartridge with speed control and double ball bearing fans enable operation up to 55 °C.
Beckhoff Automation;
One and More
UNO-3072LA has an Intel Atom N270 processor, DVI-I port, two RS-232/422/485 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, five USB 2.0 ports, onboard system and I/O programmable LED indicators, and two PCI slots. It supports a SATA HDD/SDD bracket with shock/vibration absorbers for data storage security, and is compatible with Windows 7, Vista/XP, and offers a pre-configured image with onboard device drivers such as Windows CE 6.0 R2, XP Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard (WES), Advantech Embedded Linux and binary drivers for Linux and QNX.
Advantech Industrial Automation; 800/205-7940;
Control Box
Simatic IPC627C box PC and HMI IPC677C panel PC support mobile Core i3 to Core i7 processors for high-speed measurement, open- and closed-loop control tasks, and HMI functions at machine level. The units are designed for continuous 24 hr service when subjected to high temperatures, vibrations, impact and electromagnetic interference.
Siemens Industry; 800/241-4463;
Compact Power
Small form-factor LPC-100 PC is about the size of a paperback, weighs 1.2 lb, is available with Intel Dual-Core Celeron T3100 or optional Intel Core 2 Duo processors P8400 or T9400, and uses Intel Mobile GM45 Express Chipset with graphic media accelerator. It includes Gigabit LAN, three USB, two serial, one DVI-I Video, Audio In/Out and two PS/2 ports, supports 4 GB of DDR3 memory and has a built-in 2.5 in. mobile hard drive.; 888/stealth;
Big Picture
Panel Magic PCs range 12 to 42 in. with available Pentium M, Atom and Core 2 Duo integrated processors, 1080p resistive touchscreens, PCI expansion capability, and custom bezel colors. The PC meets a NEMA 4X rating.
Comark; 508/359-8161;
Value Computing
Valueline industrial PCs are available in 12, 15, 17 and 19 in. screen sizes and several CPU choices. VL blind-node with Celeron M or Core 2 Duo CPU; VL 15 with Celeron M or Core 2 Duo CPU; and VL 17 with Celeron M or Core 2 Duo CPU are capable of Class I, Div. 2 use.
Phoenix Contact; 800/808-7177; 
Light Heavy Computing
ePC Lite computers use an Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz processor and Intel CPU board to provide enough processing power to run HMI and SCADA applications. Windows XP Professional and an Intel 40 GB SATA solid-state drive are standard, as are a 15 in. XGA LCD, 1 GB DRAM, analog resistive five-wire touchscreen, and a NEMA 4 front panel.
Nematron; 734/214-2000; 

Tough Server
IOS-7200 I/O Server Industrial PC with an AMD Geode CPU alternative to PC/104 or CompactPCI embedded computers are interfaced through an internal carrier card with related plug-in I/O modules in a fanless box with conduction-cooled I/O modules to operate at -40 to 75 °C. A mix of up to four mezzanine IOS modules on the slide-out carrier card enables A/D, D/A, discrete monitoring/control, counter/timer, serial communication, and FPGA computing functions. High-density connectors on the front panel provide clean cable access for 192 channels of field I/O.
Acromag; 248/295-0310;

Module and Motherboard
bCOM2-L8000 COM Express module and mITX-945S-ED motherboard based on the 1.6 GHz version of the Intel Atom processor has one Gigabit Ethernet port, two Serial ATA interfaces, support for two IDE devices and eight USB 2.0 ports. mITX-945S-ED has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, PCI Express and PCI expansion slots, a COM port, two Serial ATA ports, support for up to two IDE devices and four USB 2.0 ports.
GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

Industrial Server
Kiss4U KTQ45 industrial server is based on an embedded KTQ45/ATXE motherboard with Intel 82Q45 Graphics and Memory Controller Hub and Intel I/O Controller Hub 10. With a front-side bus to 1.333 MHz and 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM, the device includes the Intel Core 2 Quad processor and the Intel Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) offers hardware encryption of all transferred data. The  server is equipped with an 80+ class 500 W power supply unit.

Software Selectable
The W406 is an embedded Linux or WinCE computer that features two software selectable RS-232/422/485 ports, one Ethernet port and GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad-band for cellular communication. It also comes with an SD socket, USB host and four digital input and four digital output channels. The W406 comes pre-installed with either Linux or WinCE 6.0 and integrates Rcore, a ready-to-run embedded software platform for industrial environments.
Moxa Americas
Industrial Control
NI 3110 industrial controller with an Intel SL9JT L2400 1.66 GHz Core Duoprocessor, and NI 3100 industrial controller with an Intel 1.06 GHz Celeron M 423 processor are configured with the Windows XP operating system and designed for rugged applications that require fanless cooling and a wide range of connectivity to external devices through USB, cabled MXI Express, Ethernet and PCI or PCI Express.
National Instruments
Industrial Computer
PS3711A-T42 light-duty industrial PC has a 15 in. TFT touchscreen display with an Intel ULV Celeron M 1.0 GHz processor; either a 60 GB hard drive, 2 or 8 GB CF drive, or 16-64 GB solid-state drive; and runs on Windows XP. It comes standard with two RS-232 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port and one 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port, and audio output in an aluminum housing.
Pro-face America