As the industrial landscape undergoes a digital transformation, the embedded computer is finding itself at the heart of the revolution. These compact, robust workhorses, often dubbed fanless or rugged computers, are powering crucial tasks across diverse industries, from the bustling factory floor to the ever-evolving world of edge computing.

In 2024, the future of rugged embedded computers shines brightly, fueled by two critical trends: a relentless focus on manufacturing optimization and the meteoric rise of Edge AI industrial computers.

This article delves into these trends, explores their impact on embedded computing, and introduces you to some of the cutting-edge solutions leading the charge.

Manufacturing Optimization: Precision at the Core

Manufacturing Optimization: Precision at the Core

Modern manufacturers, like Neousys and Cincoze for example, seek continuous improvement, demanding ever-higher levels of efficiency, precision, and uptime. Embedded computers play a pivotal role in enabling this optimization, powering applications like:

  • Predictive maintenance: By analyzing sensor data in real-time, embedded computers can identify potential equipment failures before they occur, preventing costly downtime and ensuring smooth production flow.

  • Process automation: Repetitive tasks are increasingly handled by robots and automated systems, controlled by embedded computers that ensure accuracy and repeatability.

  • Quality control: Machine vision systems powered by embedded computers can inspect products with microscopic precision, eliminating defects and safeguarding brand reputation.

Edge AI: Intelligence Closer to the Action

The rise of edge AI adds another layer of sophistication to the industrial landscape.

By processing data at the source, close to where it’s generated, edge AI empowers faster decision-making, reduces reliance on centralized servers, and unlocks a new class of applications:

  • Real-time anomaly detection: Embedded computers with edge AI capabilities can analyze production data in real-time, flagging deviations and triggering immediate corrective actions.

  • Predictive inventory management: Edge AI predicts future demand based on real-time production data and machine learning models, optimizing inventory levels and minimizing waste.

  • On-device process optimization: By analyzing sensor data at the edge, embedded computers can adjust production parameters in real-time, maximizing efficiency and yield.

Industrial Computer Champions: Rising to the Challenge

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the industry’s leading embedded computer solutions, perfectly poised to meet the demands of modern industrial applications and edge AI:

Neousys NRU-52s+ / NRU-52S:

NRU-52S series is a rugged, wide temperature, fanless edge AI computer delivering up to 100 TOPS for AI-based video analytics applications requiring H.264/H.265 video decoding and real-time inference. Power by an NVIDIA® Jetson Orin™ NX/ Xavier™ NX system on module (SoM), it comprises of NVIDIA® Ampere GPUs (Orin NX), CUDA cores, Tensor cores, and NVDLA (NVIDIA® Deep Learning Accelerator).

Benefiting from the power-efficiency of NVIDIA® Jetson Orin™ NX, which consumes only 25W of power, NRU-52S+ can decode up to 18 streams of 1080p video at 30 FPS, and also offer 100 TOPS inference performance. The high AI performance per watt makes NRU-52S+ ideal for applications with a limited power source, such as in a robot, vehicle, or rolling stock. Also, with Neousys’ industrial-grade thermal design, NRU-52S+ is ideal for edge deployments that require fanless wide temperature operations, such as at roadside, wayside, construction site, agriculture, or in a dusty factory.

Neousys Nuvo-9501:

Nuvo-9501 is a cost-effective compact fanless embedded computers based on the Intel 13th/12th-Gen platform. Built on the advanced Intel 7 process, Intel 13th Gen processors offer up to 24 cores/ 32 threads to deliver up to 2x the performance when compared to previous Intel 10th or 11th Gen platforms. Nuvo-9501 is a cost-effective, compact and yet powerful fanless embedded computer that offers the ultimate computing for various industrial applications.

Nuvo-9501 offers essential I/O functions for general industrial needs including dual 2.5GbE ports, dual display ports and four USB3.2 ports. In addition, it features a Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe slot for the latest NVMe SSDs with read/ write speeds up to 7000 MB/s. Also, it supports a 2.5” or 3.5” HDD storage for high capacity storage needs such as data collection or surveillance applications. It also offers two mPCIe and one M.2 E key slots for installing WiFi or 5G/ 4G wireless communication modules.

Neousys Nuvo-9531:

Nuvo-9531 is one of the most compact fanless embedded computers based on the Intel 13th/12th-Gen platform. Measuring just 212 x 165 x 63 mm, it can fit into restricted spaces, such as in robotic arm and AMR applications. Despite its compact size, Nuvo-9531 does not compromise on performance. Built on the advanced Intel 7 process, Intel 13th Gen processors have up to 24 cores/ 32 threads to deliver up to 2x the performance when compared to previous Intel 10th or 11th Gen platforms. Nuvo-9531 is a compact fanless embedded computer that offers the ultimate computing for various industrial applications.

Nuvo-9531 has rich I/O functions. It features four 2.5GbE with optional PoE+ PSE and four USB3.2 Gen1 ports for multiple camera connectivity for machine vision and surveillance applications. In addition, it features a Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe slot for the latest NVMe SSDs that supports read/ write speeds up to 7000 MB/s; a hot-swappable HDD tray to hot-swap the storage drive without turning off the system or dismantling the chassis; two mPCIe and one M.2 E key slots to install WiFi or 5G/ 4G wireless communication modules. The system is also equipped with 8x DIO, 2x COM ports, and dual display outputs for your industrial embedded application needs.

Neousys SEMIL-1700GC:

SEMIL-1700GC series is one of the world’s first IP67-rated, waterproof and dustproof inference server with pre-installed NVIDIA® RTX A2000, Tesla T4 or Quadro P2200 for the most demanding environments. It is a brand new page in Neousys’ chapter of innovations as it represents a new level of robustness for rugged edge AI solutions. Coupled with Intel® Xeon® E or 9th/ 8th-Gen Core™ CPU, the system delivers excellent CPU and GPU performances for advanced edge AI applications in various environmental settings. SEMIL-1700GC series features Neousys’ patented system architecture* to guarantee -40°C to 70°C fanless operation in a rack or wall-mountable 2U 19″ enclosure.

SEMIL-1700GC series features a sophisticated thermal design to dissipate the heat generated by RTX A2000, Tesla T4 or Quadro P2200 GPU to ensure maximum GPU performance in high-temperature environments. It has a corrosion-proof, stainless steel/ aluminum chassis with molded o-rings plus patented fusion mechanism design to offer extraordinary durability and watertight construction.

Cincoze DX-1200:

The DX-1200 is a fanless embedded computer that packs extreme performance into a rugged, compact chassis, making it the ideal choice for smart manufacturing, machine vision, and edge AI applications. A 12th gen Intel® Core™ (Alder Lake-S) processor (TDP up to 65W) and DDR5 4800 MHz memory provide high-speed computing performance, while additional functions, including rich native I/O and modular expansion design, meet the requirements for a wide range of applications.

Cincoze DS-1400:

The DS-1400 is a high-performance, expandable, and rugged embedded computer, boasting outstanding performance as well as rich industrial I/O interfaces and robust functionalities. To meet various application needs, it can flexibly expand the required I/O and specific functions through Cincoze’s unique CMI, CFM, and MEC expansion modules. Moreover, the DS-1400 has passed multiple international certifications, ensuring stable and reliable performance in diverse harsh environments. It is an ideal choice for manufacturing and railway applications.

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Neousys POC-700:

POC-700 is Neousys’ next-generation ultra-compact embedded controller, with a choice of the latest Intel® Alder Lake i3-N305 or x7425E processor that is capable of delivering up to 1.3x the CPU performance when compared to previous POC-500 series.

Neousys POC-700 is powered by Intel’s Alder Lake i3-N305 featuring 8-core/ 8-thread processor with 32EUs UHD Graphics or Atom® x7425E featuring 4-core/ 4-thread with 24EUs UHD Graphics to support Intel OpenVINO™ for AI inference capabilities. The systems adopts DDR5-4800 to offer up to 1.8x the memory bandwidth over DDR4 to boost overall system performance. It also has four USB3.2 Gen2, and four GigE PoE+ ports with screw lock mechanisms to connect and secure industrial cameras for machine vision applications.

Arestech MERA-2000:

The Arestech MERA-2000 is a rugged box PC powered by Intel Atom or Celeron J1900 processors. This rugged box PC contains rich I/O including: 5x USB, 2x COM, 2x LAN and 4x Digital Input and 4x Digital Output ports alongside DVI-I and a display port supporting dual displays. The MERA-2000 is suitable for a range of applications including: Digital signage control systems, factory automation applications, image processing (e.g medical 2D and 3D imaging), gaming and entertainment industries and network communications.

Neousys Nuvo-9160GC series:

Nuvo-9160GC is a rugged edge AI computer that delivers superior CPU and GPU performance by leveraging Intel’s 13th/12th Gen platform and an NVIDIA® RTX GPU card up to 130W. The system’s standard and optional GPU brackets can accommodate selected GPU cards including RTX 3050, RTX 4060, NVIDIA® RTX A2000, and RTX 4000 SFF Ada. The GPU bracket is designed to secure the GPU card to provide excellent shock and vibration resistance in volatile conditions.

Benefiting from the cutting-edge Intel® 7 photolithography, Intel®’s 13th/12th Gen processors offer up to 24 cores/ 32 threads to provide up to double the performance when compared to previous Intel® 11th/ 10th Gen CPUs. The latest NVIDIA® 130W RTX GPU contributes up to 15 TFLOPS of FP32 performance to fuel real-time AI inference applications involving multiple cameras such as production line vision inspection, intelligent video analytics for surveillance or ITS, or autonomous mobile robot (AMR).

Neousys POC-465AWP:

POC-465AWP is a new segment of Neousys fanless computers featuring an IP66 rating based on Intel® Elkhart Lake Atom. The acronym AWP stands for affordability, waterproof, and protection. In short, the POC-465AWP is designed to solve your everyday environmental challenges. With IP66 waterproof protection in a stainless steel and aluminum chassis, the air-tight system prevents internal PCBA corrosion in high salinity or humidity situations. Secondly, the hermetic enclosure can be deployed into grimy or dusty air-polluted environments such as a farm or mining site without being affected. The system also features -25°C to 70°C wide operating temperature capability and an efficient heat dissipation design to minimize thermal throttling.

The Industrial vs. The Rugged Industrial

Connection-wise, POC-465AWP comes with M12 connectors to ensure connection in demanding, shock, and vibration environments. The system has two 2.5G Ethernet ports, one isolated RS-232, and one isolated RS-422/485. The isolated design protects the motherboard from voltage spikes that may damage internal components. It also has a VGA, two USB2.0, an M.2 M key to support SATA SSD, and a mini-PCIe for wireless WiFi/ LTE, CAN bus, etc.

This is just a glimpse into the diverse and ever-evolving landscape of industrial embedded computers. When choosing the right solution, consider factors like processing power, I/O options, environmental resilience, software compatibility, and edge AI capabilities.

With careful evaluation and expert guidance with Industrial PC, you can select the perfect embedded computer to fuel your journey towards a smarter, more efficient, and AI-driven industrial future.

Looking Ahead: Beyond 2024

The future of industrial embedded computers is brimming with exciting possibilities. Expect to see advancements in:

  • Miniaturization and power efficiency: Smaller, yet more powerful CPUs and GPUs will enable even more compact and energy-efficient embedded computers, ideal for space-constrained applications.

  • Enhanced connectivity: Widespread adoption of 5G and other next-generation networking technologies will unlock faster data transfer, remote management capabilities, and seamless integration with cloud platforms.

  • Security and reliability: As reliance on edge AI and connected systems grows, robust security features and enhanced fault tolerance will become critical for ensuring operational stability and protecting sensitive data.

  • Open-source software and ecosystems: The rise of open-source software and developer communities will foster collaborative innovation and accelerate the development of new applications and functionalities for industrial embedded computers.

  • Specialized AI hardware: Dedicated AI accelerators and specialized hardware designs will further optimize edge AI processing, enabling more complex and resource-intensive tasks to be performed at the edge.

Remember, the industrial landscape is constantly evolving, and staying informed about these trends will empower you to make informed decisions and choose the right embedded computer solutions to meet your unique needs, today and tomorrow.

Industrial embedded computers are the brains behind the brawn, driving optimization, unlocking AI-powered intelligence, and paving the way for a smarter, more efficient future across diverse industries.

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