The Future of PC104

The following is an excerpt from this article by George Hillard for Embedded Computing Design:

Even with the Type 2 pin-out, many CPUs couldn’t utilize the full three-bank, high-speed connector. So the PC104 consortium approved the Type 3 (OneBank) connector option.  OneBank supports the signals of the first bank on the Type 2 pin-out and depopulates the remaining two banks, which were largely unused I/O. This saves real estate on the PCIe/104 CPU, allowing for additional functionality or reduced costs.

After reading this, Flemming Christensen CEO of Sundance, had the following to say:

Hi George,

I am particularly pleased to see your use of the PCIe/104 OneBank(tm) on the Atom E3900 Module and this is why I pushed so hard for the PC/104 Consortium to adopt it, as low-power SoC, like Atom and Xilinx’s & NVIDIA’s ARM SoC typically only has four lanes and OneBank is perfect for that. Small and cheap. However, it is not Type3.

Type 3 was put forward by a few old Members of the PC/104 Consortium as a “Stack-Up” only concept, ie. add a PCIe/104 connector to the TOP of the PCB of a EBX or EPIC form-factor and then add I/O boards on top of that. Some of the Directors of the Consortium don’t like change, so it wasn’t passed to Members to vote on.

What happened next? – well, a few of the consortium’s ex-members have released the “Type-3” specification and also introduce the “Next Gen”, based on a even better (and cheaper) multi-sourced stackable connector.

We call it Fat Pipe Extension (FPE) and you can see more information in this video – StackPC – New Solutions and Possibilities

Stack-PC-FPE provides next generation high-speed expansion connectors to support the latest high-speed interfaces.