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Comparison of SBC and SoM in embedded systems

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Table of Contents

SBCs provide a ready-to-use embedded development platform for the creation of end products. SBC reduces development costs and technical risks while accelerating time-to-market. However, a System on Module (SoM) is a better option for building embedded products.

So, in embedded development, should we choose SBC or SoM? What is their difference?

What is Single Board Computer (SBC)?

Everyone has probably heard of the Raspberry Pi, which is one of the most well-known SBCs in the world. It is not practical to dedicate an entire computer to a project for many projects. This is where a single-board computer can help. Before we get there, let’s define SBC.

A single-board computer (SBC) is a full computer built on a single circuit board that includes a microprocessor(s), memory, input/output (I/O), and other computer-related capabilities. As an embedded computer controller, single-board computers are often utilized in an embedded development system. SBC combines a computer’s digital, analog, and mixed-signal components into a single board.

The relationship between SBC, the main board, and the development board is not complicated to explain. SBC is an MCU but also a microcontroller. The main board is to make the microcontroller into a board. The development board is a circuit board that uses the core board and peripheral circuit board to develop your desired functions.

As the core of the three, it is small in size, light in weight, cheap in price, and provides convenient conditions for learning, application, and development.

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From https://www.tomshardware.com/

What is a System on a Module (SoM)?

A System-On-Module (SoM) is a single-board computer that may be plugged into a carrier board to expand the system. A System-On-Module is another term for the same thing. It refers to a computer or system bundled into a single module. By simply picking an alternative SoM module from the same pin-compatibility family, the SoM-based design allows more scalability.

The SoM can be replaced or improved without replacing the carrier board. SoM offers a plug-and-play benefit. The SoM and carrier board supply the entire system; they typically incorporate the display, connection, GPIO, and other subsystems in a single computer module.

What is the Difference Between SoM and SBC?

SBC is made to allow beginners to investigate and learn about system hardware and software. A basic integrated development environment, software source code, and hardware schematics are all included in some SBCs. It is an embedded board for learning, research, and development. Most importantly, SBC can be created based on user requirements or researched and customized by the user himself.

SoM combines general core functions. It allows for the customization of various carrier boards, which improves development efficiency. Furthermore, because SoM is segregated as an independent module, it decreases development difficulty while increasing system stability and maintainability.

The advantages of SBC

Common circuits

SBC is frequently used for education. For learners, it has created standard circuits. Learners are not required to create their circuit boards or buy, sell, and assemble components.

Standard programs

Microprocessors are primarily related to SBC. It has some standard programs for numerous applications created for learners to test out.

Efficiency

SBC can speed up research and development and significantly increase learning efficiency.

Small size

For some DIP modules, the size of the gateway board may be larger. In the form of SBC, it can be made smaller in a small footprint.

Better connectivity

Wireless connectivity is challenging with and without two modules onboard, and SBC can solve this problem perfectly.

Simpler operation

The complexity of gateway PCB design and software would increase to be adapted to different circuits and modules, and using SBC can avoid this trouble.

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From https://www.digi.com/

The advantages of SoM

Flexibility

Module rather than the chip on board provides more choices for customers. They can select only the wireless modules they desire to obtain a suitable product. DUSUN’s modules support plug-and-play, and the platform can be expanded according to future technology and market demands.

New modules can be easily connected to existing carrier boards, and application software may require some minor updates. With SBC, platform scalability is impossible because the board has fixed compute and memory sections.

Efficiency

The factory could prepare the PCBA board in advance and only solder and insert the module while sending out the gateway so that the manufacturing process is replaced by assembling. Therefore time consumption is reduced, and efficiency is improved.

Low cost

As the customers can choose the gateway functions and modules on their own, the unnecessary chip is removed to lower the development cost.

Segmentation test

The whole function test is divided into several fragments. Modular testing avoids repeated testing and increases efficiency.

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SoM of DSGW-230-1-US

hould I choose SBC or SoM for my project?

Hardware and software developers can make the embedded platform future-proof and adaptable by substituting SoMs for SBCs in chip-based development. SBCs are perfect for applications with ambiguous size, I/O, and configuration needs. Depending on the exact project requirements and sales volume, one may decide to use SoM or SBC.

SoM can be selected during the early requirement POC verification stage, depending on the requirement stage. In this case, you may require greater flexibility and the ability to change CPU and memory options at any time. SBC can be used when the project is nearing completion, the requirements are precise, and the mass production stage has begun.

If you don’t expect any hardware changes, SBC may benefit from this. And, once conformal coated, SBC is the first choice for any harsh, wet, greasy, or environment requiring high vibration and shock resistance.

When large-scale products must be listed as soon as possible, it is recommended to use SoM, depending on the project’s progress. Engineers can reduce time-to-market by starting projects with the most potent SoM modules and then adapting or expanding the SoM based on end-product requirements. You can instead ODM custom SBC to fit your project.

In conclusion, the choice of SoM or SBC depends on specific project needs and product sales. DUSUN’s SoM comes with a ready-to-use operating system, common development environment, framework, and integration with third-party software. All interfaces have connectors available.

It links your unique carrier board to the SoM. Interfaces can be connected to carrier board connectors, or components explicitly made for a given application. You can choose the SoM or SBC that suits your needs or seek professional help

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