SLC, eMLC, MLC or TLC Solid State Drives?
SSDs (Solid State Drives) use NAND flash chips. Each of these chips contain millions of cells with limited number of write cycles. There are different types of NAND flash chips in use today with different characteristics as follows:
What's the difference between WES7E and WES7P?

WS7E offers flexible operating system components that include secure networking, enterprise integration, advanced web capabilities and smart power management to enable next generation scenarios. WS7E also provides access to the latest Windows 7 technologies to deliver value and build differentiated embedded devices that are more secure, reliable and manageable.

WS7P offers the richest set of components and features to enable advanced consumer and enterprise class devices. WS7P can satisfy complex scenarios involving multi-touch gestures, enhanced lockdown, enriched media capabilities and efficient network management. WS7P is ideal for many device categories including digital signage, kiosks and advanced set top boxes.

Windows® 7 (For Embedded Systems)

Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate for Embedded Systems are embedded versions of the Classic Windows 7 desktop OS, and are available for fixed-function or dedicated systems.

They are designed for devices with a strict need for Microsoft Windows 7 application compatibility and where reduced footprint is not a primary design requirement.

Unlike Microsoft Windows XP Embedded, Windows 7 with Embedded Restrictions is not a componentized version of the Windows OS and an OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) is needed to produce the OS image. Therefore, the OS image size is not as customizable.

Following features are only available in Windows 7 Ultimate: MUI Support, BitLocker, BitLocker to Go, VHD Boot, Direct Access, AppLocker, BrancheCache, VDI Remote Desktop.

Key Features:

  • The same full Operating System as Windows 7 OEM version
  • Language Independent Licensing – Multi User Interface (MUI) Language OPK available for Ultimate version.
  • Online Activation Disabled – for customers whose usage is 1k and above, activation can be disabled via an application to Microsoft.
  • Long Lifetime Support – support at least until 2024
  • Very fast boot time and very stable for industrial usage
Resistive Touch Screen

A resistive touch screen panel comprises several layers, the most important of which are two thin, transparent electrically-resistive layers separated by a thin space. These layers face each other, with a thin gap between. The top screen (the screen that is touched) has a coating on the underside surface of the screen. Just beneath it is a similar resistive layer on top of its substrate. One layer has conductive connections along its sides, the other along top and bottom. A voltage is passed through one layer, and sensed at the other. When an object, such as a fingertip or stylus tip, presses down on the outer surface, the two layers touch to become connected at that point: The panel then behaves as a pair of voltage dividers, one axis at a time. By rapidly switching between each layer, the position of a pressure on the screen can be read.

Resistive touch is used in restaurants, factories and hospitals due to its high resistance to liquids and contaminants. A major benefit of resistive touch technology is its low cost. Disadvantages include the need to press down and a risk of damage by sharp objects. Resistive touch screens also suffer from poorer contrast, due to having additional reflections from the extra layer of material placed over the screen.

IP Protection Class

In many ennvironments electronical devices must stand rough conditions and work for their indetnded period of time nevertheless they are set out to dirt, dust and humidity. IP protection classes define, how and where they can be used without getting a safety risk. Especialy in medical areas the safety is very important for the device and all above for the patients.

The following table shows the different IP protection classes:

 IPCharacteristic 1 for protection against contact IP Characteristic 2 for waterproofing 
 0 No special protection 0 No waterproofing
 1 Protection from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter 1 Protection from dripping water
 2 Protection from object not greater than 12mm in diamete 2 Protection from vertically dripping water (tilted up to 15°)
 3 Protection from object not greater than 2,5mm in diameter 3 Protection from sprayed water (tilted up to 60°)
 4 Protection from object not greater than 1mm in diameter 4 Protection from splashed water
 5 Complete protectionm against contact, Protection against dust deposit 5 Protection from water projected from a nozzle
 6 Complete protectionm against contact, Protection from infiltration of dust 6 Protection against heavy seas, or powerful jets of water.
 7  7 Protection against immersion
 8  8 Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water.
  9 Protection against the ingress of water form all directions even under greatly high pressure on the housing. (High-pressure/steam cleaner, 80-100 bar)


What is the difference betweenn an Industrial CPU card and an off-the-shelf commercial motherboard?

Industrial CPU cards are designed to survive the harsh environment, where extremes of temperature, vibration and electrical noise could easily damage 'normal' system components. Commercial motherboards are not designed for such environments.

Motherboards come cheap, but you (don't) get what you (don't) pay for:

  • poor grounding, shielding, isolation. Poorly designed motherboards do not provide an adequate multi-layer design for effective signal routing, ground and power plane separation for EMI/RFI compliance. What are we really measuring here?
  • low reliability due to cheap
    • electronic components (e.g.: using normal electrolytic capacitors, the heat inside the chassis will cause the electrolyte to dry up over time. This in turn may cause shorts, erratic system behavior and so on)
    • mechanical components (e.g. connectors with a short insertion life or improperly coated pins, therefore subject to poor electrical continuity over time).

As mentioned previously, industrial CPU cards minimize system downtime (e.g. passive backplane cards all comply to standard mounting specs), and allow an easy upgrade path as newer technology becomes available.

What is an Industrial PC?

Think of an IPC (Industrial PC) in terms of your desktop computer: many of its technical characteristics and features are basically the same: processor & RAM type. storage media, interface ports, performance, etc. However, an Industrial PC is a ruggedized system, fit for use on the shopfloor.

What Distinguishes a Commercial PC from an Industrial PC?

First of all, industrial computers are especially designed to withstand harsh environments (extremes of temperature, dust, humidity, vibration, power surges) that commercial PCs are not designed for.

Before choosing a ‘PC’ for your application, you should always take into account the following factors:

  • Temperature: appropriately deployed, industrial computers can be rated to work up to 45°C and over, while commercial PCs should stay well below the 35°C temperature range.
  • Dust: cooling fans, when external to the chassis, are usually provided with special filters to keep out dust and other similar contaminants. On systems provided with positive air pressure flow within the chassis, you also obtain:
    • Consistently clean air flow inside the chassis
    • Direct cooling of magnetic media (floppy disk, hard disk, CDROM), system components and power supply
  • Shock/Vibration: disk drives can be mounted on shock absorbers, providing mechanical isolation and cushioning.
  • Humidity: Machine tool environments (grinding machines, lathes, machining centers, transfer lines, etc.) are often affected by liquid contaminants/coolants, while very often the plant itself may reach high relative humidity values, in which a commercial PC cannot possibly survive.
  • Power supply: Spikes, surges, transients and noise on AC power sources are very common on the factory floor. Computers must always be supplied with clean, stabilized DC voltages under (almost) any condition.
  • EMI: proper grounding, shielding and electrical design assure proper isolation and compliance to internationally recognized electrical standards.
  • IP/NEMA protection
  • Expandability & longevity: an IPC is often more expandable (i.e. in terms of slots) than normal PCs, including support for legacy applications that need to work (and be maintained) seamlessly for 5 or even 10 and more years, long after “off-the-shelf” commercial components and boards are no longer available. In terms of upgrading the technology or simply thanks to the availability of spare parts, this basically represents a much lower cost of ownership in comparison to an office PC, compensating the initial higher investment for an IPC.
  • Easier access to the inside for servicing (less downtime)
  • Depending on the model, an IPC can be panel or rack-mounted (19”), or mounted on a swivel-arm support, providing flexible deployment for any physical environment
How Tough is Rugged?

Mobile computing devices, namely tablet PCs and industrial PDAs, are becoming increasingly popular for out-field use. Their versatility makes them useful in public safety and field service applications. However, popular consumer tablets or handhelds are not designed to meet outdoor use, especially where the environment is tough. They are not designed to work in the rain, or extreme hot or cold temperatures, or in areas where dust and dirt could interfere with the device. For these environments, tougher devices are required – those that meet the “rugged” standard.

So, what defines “rugged”? From the user’s perspective, rugged refers to the device’s ability to operate in the work environment that in is exposed to. However, different users work in different environments. Hence, rugged means something slightly different from one user to the other. For example, a tablet PC used in a warehouse will be more likely exposed to dust and drops, but will less likely be used in extreme temperatures. To meet the needs of all possible users, the industry has agreed upon a general a set of standards to test for a device’s ruggedness. There standards include tests for: extreme operating and storage temperatures, Ingress Protection (IP Grade) as well as drop survival.

  • IP 64 Rating – Dust tight and protected against water splashed against the component from any direction
  • Operating Temperature – 14ºF ~ 104ºF – It can be operated under a wide range of temperatures
  • 3.93ft Drop Test – Passed the 3.93ft drop test on all sides 26 times
  • Storage Temperature – 14ºF ~ 140ºF – It can be stored under extreme temperature
What is EPIC?

EPIC is to define a new industry open standard for small form factor embedded computer boards, call Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing or EPIC. The EPIC single board computer has multiple I/O expansion options. Its size is midway between the industry standard PC/104 module and EBX board. The boards in EPIC form factor support advanced processors plus complex I/O functions for applications involving data acquisition, video processing, telecommunications, networking, motion control plus the associated field wiring termination, I/O circuit protection, etc. The initial specifications define PC/104 expansions; however, future updates will embrace PCI Express and/or other expansion features. The EPIC standard provides a platform on which to build the next generation feature-rich embedded system for industrial, medical, military, transportation, and commercial applications.

Key Features

  • Fixed Dimensions and mounting holes
  • Fixed I/O Interface
  • Fixed PCI-104, PC/104 location
  • Fixed CPU location
Windows 7 - Key Benefits for Industrial Users

Industry is traditionally slow to adopt any new Microsoft Operating System (OS). Many industrial Windows users will have no need of the many new features on offer and will be highly cautious at potential bugs or security flaws that could be lurking within. The majority of industrial products will have life expectancies of over 5 years and would have been developed around a specific Operating System. In short, it is rarely worth considering switching to a new Operating System unless you are developing a new product.

At first glance, the appearance of Windows 7 is similar to Windows Vista. However, when you start using it you will be pleasantly surprised at how fluid and quickly it runs. Interestingly, if you compare the minimum hardware requirements between Windows Vista and 7 they are almost identical. However, Windows 7 was developed from the ground up with a simple aim to be much faster than Windows Vista. This is a significant change of thinking from Microsoft, especially when considering the upgrades which were necessary when moving between Windows 98, XP and Vista. The minimum hard drive capacity for Windows 7 of 16GB is still significantly larger than Windows XP which was a mere 1.5GB. Those users wanting a trimmed down version can choose Windows Embedded Standard “Quebec”, which is based on Windows 7 code.

Multiple Core Support

Similar to Windows XP and Vista, Windows 7 follows suit with the number of supported processors. The Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions all support two physical processors regardless of the number of cores within each processor. However, unlike Windows Vista and XP Windows 7 supports up to 256 cores and scales in a linear fashion.

Windows 7 64-bit

Excluding Windows 7 Starter, each of the editions will ship with 32-bit and 64-bit variants. The 64-bit versions will also support 32-bit applications. Although 64-bit computing has some significant benefits, if the applications or hardware does not fully support this , you should stay with 32-bit to avoid unexpected errors.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 64-bit

  • The 32-bit compatibility mode has overheads and running 32-bit applications within a 64-bit environment may be slower!
  • Your older 16-bit applications will no longer run. DOS applications are a no-go as far as 64-bit is concerned.
  • It is possible to address more than 4GB of system memory. This can provide some significant speed improvements for demanding systems. If your application is only 32-bit it will only see 4GB.
  • You will need a compatible Windows 7 64-bit driver. If you are running older or specialized plug-in cards or peripherals, you will find they no longer work.

Windows 7 XP Mode

To make use of this feature, you need to download and install both Microsoft Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode.

The technicalities surrounding XP mode are a little vague and first impressions could give false hope of providing a fully compatible Windows XP machine. The XP Mode is designed to support legacy software applications only and cannot see or interact with most hardware. If any hardware was plugged into the machine such as a PCI Data Acquisition card, the virtual XP Mode would be oblivious to it.

This feature may be of use if you have a standalone legacy application which you are unable to run within Windows 7 which would otherwise have to be run on a separate PC.

Solid State Disk (SSD) Support

Windows XP and Vista treat an SSD as a mechanical hard drive. To support the growing popularity of SSD being used within systems, Microsoft has added a number of features into Windows 7 to improve the life expectancy and performance of Solid State Disks.

  • Disk activity has been optimized to reduce the amount of disk writes and cache flushes. All SSDs have a limited number of write/erase cycles, so this reduction improves the life of the device as well as improving the speed of operation.
  • Disk defragmentation is disabled when a device is recognised as an SSD. As data is written and erased from a standard hard drive it becomes fragmented over time. Defragmentation relocates data sequentially on the drive, so the head does not have to travel as much. This feature is not only unnecessary on an SSD, but the additional reading and writing of the process will shorten its life.
  • Windows 7 disables Superfetch, ReadyBoost and boot / application launch prefetching. These features were added to Windows Vista to improve the performance of conventional hard drive I/O but they have proved to be of no benefit for newer SSDs which make no distinction between random and sequential operation.
  • Windows 7 will support the new ATA TRIM command. This feature gives the SSD the control to erase unused data blocks. This will reduce the number of block erase and merge operations to further extend the life of the SSD and improve performance.
  • Microsoft has announced a certification program for SSD, similar to the driver certification program.