Contact Advantech Search Shopping list
  1. 1-888-576-9668
  2. Login
Order By Part Number
Single Board Computers

Consider the facts below to help you determine the Single Board Computer (SBC) that’s right for your project

First, let’s take a look at what defines an SBC, versus a “motherboard”

Commercial-grade motherboards are also known as an active board or an ATX-style motherboard. However, industrial-grade computers often take the form of a SBC (Single Board Computer) plugged into a passive backplane. A passive backplane is a circuit board backbone that has no processor on it—all the intelligence is on the SBC. Therefore, an SBC is an all-in-one board, similar to a videocard or any other type of plug-in board. Once the SBC is put in place in the backplane, you have the capabilities of a motherboard with even more expansion.

A huge upside of this SBC/backplane computer architecture is that there are extensive Advantech backplane offerings covering virtually any slot configuration. Another reason the single-board architecture fits so well into industrial computer applications is that if there is a system failure, you can unplug and replace the SBC in seconds, reducing down-time.

A passive backplane arrangement

Where to start

Selecting the proper SBC for your chassis should be based around several key needs:

  • Your backplane should determine the slot configuration. Advantech backplanes are available with a mix of slots (ISA, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe, etc.) and segments giving you flexibility in selecting SBC options.

  • You need enough processing power for your SBC system to perform the application’s tasks with dependable speed.

  • You need proper chipset, memory, COM ports, and considerations for heat dissipation met.

  • You need the right selection of board slots to meet your board’s uses and also be able to grow with your future requirements.

  • You should consider the desired longevity of the configuration.

All of this is not meant to be overwhelming. In fact, there is a process below that makes it easy to select your motherboard in steps.

The Processor

The first question to answer when it comes to your SBC’s processor (CPU) is “what operating system will I be using?” If your system were to required Windows XPTM, then a Intel® PentiumTM MTM processor or above would be the best recommendation. If your application required Windows XP and also involve tasks such as gigabyte Ethernet and heavy graphics processing, then the best recommendation may be the PentiumTM 4 processor or Core 2TM Duo to provide the multitasking and the speed required to perform these functions optimally.

Pentium M

Pentium 4

Core 2 Duo

Core2 Quad


The PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) is a consortium and standards set for use in high-performance telecommunications and industrial computing applications. The newer PICMG 1.3 extended the previous PICMG 1.0 and 1.2 specifications to continue support for PCI/PCI-X plug in cards as well as add new support for PCI-Express.

The PICMG 1.3 SBC (often called System Host Board in PCMIG 1.3 terminology) interfaces with PCI Express peripherals on a backplane. PCI and PCI-X option cards can take advantage of the high-speed serial links, streamlined interconnects that PCI Express has to offer. For these reasons, you may be able to advantage of the added system flexibility of Advantech’s selection of both PICMG 1.3 backplanes and SBCs, offering support for PCI Express.

Note: At the eStore, customers can easily recognize specific solutions based on product naming. For example, our server-grade PCE-7210 SHB is compatible with PCE-7B00-series backplanes. The mainstream PCE-5124 SHB is compatible with PCE-5B00-series backplanes.


Your Single Board Computer’s Size

When it comes to SBC form factors, you must consider whether you will want to take advantage of the expandability of the full-size SBC standard, or whether it benefits you to choose a smaller board for the sake of space and unit price savings. To help with your selection, here is a list of descriptions for choosing the best Advantech SBC for your project.

Full-sized- Occupies one primary PCI slot and includes boards that comply with System Host Board Express (SHB Express; also called PICMG 1.3) and PCI/ISA PICMG 1.0 standards. This form factor offers a broader format to maintain compatibility with PCIe, PCI-X, PCI and ISA, and also to support flexible I/O, full communications ports, and more. If it meets your chassis requirement, the feature rich full-sized SBC will provide a full set of functionality. Full-sized boards measure 338mm x 122 mm (13.3" x 4.8").

Half-sized–This compact board design occupies only a short PCI slot. It does have a reduced feature set when compared to the full-sized SBC. However, half-sized SBCs are an extension-flexible and space saving solution when chassis space is limited. Half-sized boards measure 185mm x 122mm (7.28” x 4.80”).

EBX SBC - EBX (Embedded Board eXpandable) is a 5.25" (203 x 146 mm) board form factor that often supports the processing power and memory competitive with many larger SBC formats. In addition to its reduced footprint, the EBX form factor often supports PC/104+ add-on boards, enabling the use of off-the-shelf products to provide a wide variety of embedded design configurations.  EBX boards measure 203mm x 146mm (8” x 5.75”).

5.25” Embedded The 5.25” Embedded SBC is a proprietary embedded board form factor developed by Advantech offering a variety of cost effective designs and a selection of socket support for Pentium processors.  This compact form factor is optimized for embedded systems and offers broad functionality such as multiple communication ports. Advantech 5.25” boards measure 203mm x 146mm (8” x 5.75”).

EPIC EPIC (Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing) is a single board computer form factor which supports PC/104 boards. The slightly-larger-than PC/104 form factor allows the incorporation of more contemporary CPUs. The EPIC standard streamlines system configuration by designating specific areas of the board for standard components, which assures consistent connector and thermal solution placements. EPIC boards measure 115mm x 165mm (4.5” x 6.5”).

PC/104 The popular PC/104 standard is widely successful due to its modular flexibility, and the benefits of its stacked bus architecture that give it its impressive mechanical durability. A PC/104 SBC and peripheral boards may be stacked vertically to build compact systems. Advantech’s PC/104 product line offers full-featured CPU modules and a variety of PC/104 peripheral modules that combine small size and industrial grade construction and reliability. The compact form factor and configurability make this form factor a perfect fit for a wide range of embedded applications. PC/104 boards measure 90.17 × 95.89mm (3.55” × 3.775”).

3.5” Embedded– This small form factor was first implemented mostly for its ability to meet the most stringent size requirements.  Previous designs featured only moderate computing power; however Advantech has incorporated the latest Intel® processors, and expand previously limited bus capability to optimize the 3.5” design.  3.5" SBCs can also be easily designed in to Advantech’s EBPC compact chassis to speed system design times, or integrated into your own chassis.  3.5” boards measure 145mm x 102mm (5.7” x 4”).


Be sure to consult your choice operating system’s memory requirements and allow for some flexibility. Choosing the minimum memory requirement may present a negative impact on any program or hardware design updates.


When you consider the multiple functions your SBC will take on, be aware that a higher grade of chipset may be in order. Generally, one chip of a chipset connects CPU to very high-speed devices, such as to RAM and graphics busses. A second chip connects the CPU to lower-speed peripheral buses. This simultaneous throughput enables better multitasking on a board that serves multiple functions (graphics processing and communications, for example). If you have a board that has these tasks to perform, and more, consider choosing the higher-rated chipset – of course, Advantech will ensure your selection is compatible with your chosen CPU.

Heat Dissipation

Let’s face it, things are going to start getting a little warm as you add computing power into your chassis solution, and heat is the enemy of electronics. Some considerations to take into account:

  • An SBC featuring a Pentium processor will require sufficient heat dissipation in order to operate over its specified longevity. Smaller casings may pose a problem due to the close proximity of the casing walls that can keep heat trapped inside. If size remains a constraint, a chassis cooling fan may be required.

  • If possible, choose a chassis with additional airflow to avoid heat problems. This feature is common among many Advantech rackmount and wallmount chassis, and should remain on your requirements list if you expect environments where heat is a factor.

  • << back to Selection Guide

    Ready to Select Your SBC

Contact Us


8 am- 8 pm (EST) Mon-Fri

Contact Advantech