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Scalability and Efficiency: System on Modules (SoM) for automated PoS

System on Modules have proven excellent thanks to their ability to reduce development times, save costs, accelerate time to market, ease of customizability, and scalability. When it comes to PoS, we wanted to focus on this last characteristic. The question was “What is the role of SoM in scalability and enhanced systems?” and Don Gunn, our Processor Specialist, was quick to answer with his valuable insight and expertise.  

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Differentiating SoM from Single Board Computers (SBC): 

Before diving into our question, we must define the differences between a SoM and a Single Board Computer (SBC) to identify and highlight their benefits as well as exemplify use cases where each shine.  

SBCs are fully functional, standalone systems with peripherals and all essential components integrated into, well, a single board. SBCs are excellent for users seeking plug and play solutions, becoming ideal for applications requiring minimum hardware expertise. A great example of an SBC is the Mama Bear Board designed in collaboration by Future Electronics and NXP, which features NXP’s i.MX8M Plus Application Processor.

Related: i.MX 8 Processors by NXP | i.MX 8M Nano

To learn more about the Mama Bear Board, go to: https://www.futureelectronics.com/future-development-boards/goldilocks 

On the other hand, a SoM is a compact and modular computing solution. SoMs encapsulate essential components featuring edge connectors and are designed to be integrated into custom carrier boards. SoM modules prioritize compactness, flexibility, and customizability. A good example of this is a camera module. It may excel in its function but the module itself comes with no USB ports, no ethernet, no buttons… nothing but a little edge connector. With a SoM, a custom board with all the required connectivity is designed to plug the camera module in and leverage the benefits.  

Enabling Design Flexibility and Scalability: 

SoM, in turn, comes as a great solution towards driving flexibility, scalability and efficiency in system design. Don Gunn pointed out the modular nature of this type of system as they house essential components on a compact module, allowing developers to leverage sophisticated processing power without the complexity of custom hardware design from scratch. This is how SoM streamlines product development, reducing time to market without compromising quality in innovation.  

As an example, Don Gunn highlighted pin compatible modules offered by manufacturers in different performance levels. Having this range available gives leeway and flexibility for developers to tailor system specifications to meet virtually any application requirements. From entry-level products to high-performance solutions, SoM leaves the ground open for seamless upgrades by simply swapping modules. In addition, this is a great feature towards future-proofing devices, ensuring their capacity to adapt to ever-changing technological landscapes and consumer preferences.  

Ensuring Longevity and Reliability: 

On that note, when addressing technology obsolescence, Don Gunn emphasized the longevity and reliability offered by SoM suppliers. In addition to the modular nature of SoMs, manufacturers prioritize extended lifespans on their products, especially when it comes to industrial applications. This makes them a superior alternative to SBCs when it comes to long-term reliability, as it safeguards investment and continuity in product availability. 


Before we move on to our fourth article in the series, Wireless Connectivity Solutions for PoS Automation, do you have any automation projects you’d like to take to the next level?     

Send us an email and contact our experts at Future Electronics to get personalized engineering support for all your applications.   

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