Most IPC vendors (manufacturers of printed circuit boards and electronic manufacturing companies) want to provide a fully comprehensive product offering but are sometimes unable to do so due to development costs that impact profitability. Trying to offer a one stop shop solution is difficult, so where do embedded peripherals sit in today’s electronics industry?

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

Taiwanese manufacturer Innodisk may just have the answer. The company’s history lies deep in industrial grade memory and storage but, at the request of customers, Innodisk started to develop embedded peripherals (EP). With its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, Innodisk was quick to adapt to the requirements of its customers and as a result they are now arguably one of the world’s leading manufacturers of I/O EPs, with a catalogue of some fifty different modules covering storage, disk array, display, communication and testing.

Innodisk was also the first module house to launch a complete series of embedded peripherals to cover all I/Os required on the motherboard and encourage system integrators to modulise their I/Os, so that they could focus on core competence such as CPU and software development.

Communication modules

Display modules

Storage modules

Disk array modules

Testing modules

Embedded Peripherals are designed as building blocks on top of existing motherboards as they offer flexibility for additional I/O expansion for existing boards without any redesign.  All it takes is a slot for mPCIe or an M.2 space and the customer can easily add another module and another and another….the combinations are limitless. I/O modularisation achieves the small-volume and large-variety customisation 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 different devices. A simple, bolt-on EP can often be the difference between project success and failure.

Buying third party EP modules has clear benefits; faster time to market (no redesign of the motherboard); no minimum order quantities (MOQs) meaning that 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.

EPs have different interfaces or connections to the motherboard. In turn the EP has different kinds of connections depending on what is being plugged into it.

The graphic, left, gives an overview of the most common interfaces and connections used.

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