Embedded board eliminates ISA

The PC/104 Embedded Consortium has introduced a new specification for a small form factor embedded computer board.

The PCI-104 specification is identical to the popular PC/104-Plus combined ISA + PCI embedded standard except that the PC/104 ISA expansion connector has been removed. By eliminating the large ISA bus connector, PCI-104 yields an additional 10% of board area for larger CPU chipsets, higher levels of integrationand/or I/O connectors.

The PCI-104 specification still maintains the small 3.550″ x 3.775″ size and self-stacking architecture for embedded applications set by the PC/104 and PC/104-Plus.

While the current PC/104 and PC/104-Plus standard will maintain the ISA bus and support the large existing base of ISA-only PC/104 add-on modules, the PCI-104 specification defines a standard with PCI-compatible I/O features such as video, audio, Ethernet, and communications.

Another benefit of the new PCI-only format is processor independence. While ISA and PCI are primarily used as x86 expansion buses in PC compatible systems, PCI can be used with other processor families, including PowerPC, ARM, X-Scale, and others. Vendors of boards using these processors can now create new designs using PCI-104, offering their customers more compact alternatives to existing larger formats.

The PC/104 Consortium and standard were established in 1992. PC/104, in use since 1987, is a small form factor, embedded PC physical and electrical interface standard.

PC/104-Plus, an extension that was added to the standard in 1995, incorporates PCI technology.