Motherboard Selection for Extended Support of Industrial Computer Systems

Choosing the motherboard for its long-term support requirements can ensure the best performance and lifespan for its extended industrial computer system.

Industrial and military users of servers or workstations based on ATX form factor iX86 motherboards require excellent performance as well as extended life and long-term support. Choosing the right motherboard goes beyond selecting a product for long lifecycle. The selection of the right chipset as well as the processor is key to obtaining the best performance and upgradeability over the lifespan of the system. The following discussion compares various embedded solutions that are available for different motherboards, expected lifespan, and upgradeability.

Commercial computer systems based on available iX86 architecture technology have a lifespan of 6 months before a newer version is available. The industrial or military user that plans to deploy the same architecture for a period of 2 years or longer is expecting long-term availability of all parts to ensure a constant supply of product. All products are eventually going to reach their end of life, but it should be a planned process that allows time for upgrades. Military systems in particular are specified and documented around a particular hardware set. The cost of changing the documentation and requalifying hardware to replace an EOL motherboard can run hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Select processor and chipset for optimum performance

Selection of the processor and the supporting chipset is based on more than just raw performance numbers. The I/O and memory requirements must also be considered. If a design requires only limited I/O or minimal I/O performance, a Pentium solution is fine. However, if multiple channels of x16 PCIe are required, the best solution is a single Xeon or, for the ultimate performance, dual Intel Xeon processors.

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