How to select an industrial single board computer (SBC)?

With the development of industrial automation and artificial intelligence, an increasing number of industrial settings are employing single board computers (abbreviated as SBCs) to realize control, monitoring, data acquisition, and analysis functionalities. These industrial SBCs possess superior performance and versatility, and are comparatively more cost-effective than their conventional industrial computer and PLC counterparts, thus experiencing a surge in popularity for employment in industrial applications.

Why do industrial scenarios need single board computers (SBCs)?


The demand for SBCs in industrial applications mainly comes from the following aspects:

1. Industrial automation: SBCs play a very important role in various control and monitoring functions in industrial automation, such as process control, robot control.


2. Industrial IoT: SBCs are needed for communication and data acquisition between devices in industrial IoT.


3. Industrial intelligence: SBCs are also used for data acquisition, processing, and analysis to improve production efficiency and quality.

Industry Automation and Intelligence

Figure:  Industry Automation and Intelligence


How to select an industrial single board computer (SBC) ?

However, since the industrial environment is very different from the normal working environment, there are many specific requirements for the industrial SBCs compared to the normal SBCs. For most industrial SBCs, they need to have the following characteristics:


Durability and Reliability 

Industrial SBCs often operate in harsh environments, such as wide temperature working environment (which may range from -40℃ to 85℃), high humidity, high altitude, vibration, shock, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and dust or debris. The high durability of industrial SBCs is essential to ensure reliable and stable performance in these challenging conditions.


If an industrial SBC fails, it can cause costly downtime, lost productivity, and even safety hazards. Hence, industrial SBCs are typically built with rugged components to ensure high durability and reliability.


Besides, Industrial equipment need to has a longer life cycle than consumer electronics. A durable and reliable SBC can last for many years, reducing the need for frequent replacements and lowering the total cost.



Multiple interfaces and expansion slots are required in an industrial SBC so that it can be customized to meet the specific needs of an industrial application.


It should have a range of connectivity options, including USB, HDMI, Ethernet ports, as well as GPIO pins which can be used to connect external sensors, devices and actuators. It is also important for a n industrial SBC to support the industry-standard communication protocols like RS232, RS485 and so forth. All of these make it easy to integrate the device with other systems and components, allowing for seamless data transfer and control. 


Multiple Interfaces on LattePanda Single Board Computer

Figure: Multiple Interfaces on LattePanda Single Board Computer


Due to the varying requirements for Single Board Computers (SBCs) in different industrial scenarios, it is also essential to consider the specific demands of each application when selecting an appropriate SBC.


High Performance

Some industry scenarios involve complex calculations, data analysis, or real-time processing tasks  that demand high computational power, such as auto optical inspection, edge computing, image recognition, etc. A high-performance SBC can handle these tasks efficiently and provide faster results. For example, traditional PLCs can effectively help control equipment, but their computing power may not be sufficient to support data processing. When the PLC is connected to an SBC, the computing power of the SBC can be utilized to achieve a complete system from control to data acquisition, computation, and analysis.


Figure: Auto Optical Inspection with Single Board Computer

Figure: Auto Optical Inspection


Low Power Consumption

Industrial SBCs may need to be deployed in locations or scenarios where power resources are limited, such as water quality monitoring, oil and gas exploration, earthquake monitoring, etc. By consuming less power, industrial SBCs can operate for longer periods of time.


Industrial SBCs which consume a lot of power will generate a significant amount of heat, which may cause problems with heat dissipation and potentially damage the components. Low power consumption can help to minimize the heat generated, which in turn reduces the need for additional fan or other cooling system and can improve the reliability of the SBC.


In addition, low power consumption can help reduce cost and environment impact which is becoming an increasingly important consideration for many industries. 


Seismograph with Single Board Computer

Figure: Seismograph

Credit: Yamaguchi  


Compact Size

A compact size is also an important factor in some industry scenarios, particularly where space is limited or where the SBC needs to be integrated into an existing system, such as in portable instrument, in-vehicle computing systems, etc. The smaller size can also result in lower power consumption and reduced heat dissipation, which are critical factors in many industrial settings and will enhance the durability of the SBCs.


Figure: Portable Instrument with Single Board Computer

Figure: Portable Instrument


In summary, with the continuous development of industrial automation and intelligence in the future, the application scope and demand for industrial single board computers will become even wider due to their various benefits and advantages. Because of the unique environments, when selecting an industrial SBC, it is necessary to comprehensively consider multiple factors such as durability, expandability, power consumption, performance, size and so forth.


Recommended Industrial Single Board Computes (SBCs)

LattePanda V1

Due to the small size, durable design, rich interfaces, low power consumption and price LattePanda has been widely used in many industry fields, among which LattePanda V1 the choice of the most industrial users. LattePanda also has the customization service, which can provide the customers with more efficient and reliable industrial solutions. 

LattePanda V1 Industrial Single Board Computer

Figure: LattePanda V1 Single Board Computer


Raspberry Pi

Among all the single board computers, the small size, low power consumption, low price make the Raspberry Pi a very economical choice for industrial SBC. 


Raspberry Pi 4 Single Board Computer

Figure: Raspberry Pi 4 Single Board Computer