Single board Computers are based on a wide array of microprocessors and micro-controllers. For low-cost applications with simple software, low-end processors like the microchip PIC or the Intel 805X family can be used.
The processor used determines the range of processing power and in some respects the I/O available on the Single Board Computer.
For mid-range to high-end applications you can select from any number of processors from Coldfire, X86, MIPS, or PowerPC.
This section will describe the various processor families and provide examples of Single Board Computers based on each family.
Typical families include:
- X86 – The venerable architecture that spawned the PC revolution. Created by Intel, also produced by AMD used in desktop, laptop general purpose PCs and embedded products.
- PowerPC (Power Architecture) – Created by Motorola Semiconductor (Now Freescale). Used in communications, automotive, etc.
- MIPS – Used in high-end communications and graphics applications. Technology is licensed by MIPS by licensees who create their own variants based on the architecture.
- ARM – Used in low power and hand-held applications as well as instruments, etc. Licensed from ARM, LTD. The core architecture is used by licensees to produce unique variants of the processor.
- PIC – Low-end micro-controller family created by Microchip, and emulated by UBCOM. Starts at very low end and scales to middle range of power with 32-bit variants. Used for general purpose devices and logic replacement, consumer applications, etc.
- 805X – Created by Intel and now sold by Atmel and others. Very popular general purpose micro-controller with good mix of I/O.
- Freescale Coldfire – Mid-range micro originally created as a replacement for the popular 68000 and CPU 32 architecture from Motorola. Used in price-sensitive applications that need good I/O and power.
- Intel Atom – Created by Intel for low-power instruments, devices, handsets. Competes with ARM.
- TI DSP (TMS, OMAP) – Created by Texas Instruments as a general purpose DSP (Digital Signal Processor). Excels at high-speed mathematical, filters, calculations, etc.
- ARC – Special-purpose micro used in Instruments and devices.
- Analog Devices DSP (Blackfin, Sharc) - General purpose DSP created by Analog Devices.
Our Directory of Single Board Computers by Processor Type can be found here>