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Processor core modules are computer boards or integrated circuits (ICs) that are populated with electronic components and used in embedded applications. Processor core modules are mounted on user-designed motherboards and other systems for quick integration in custom designs. Processor core modules can be used as the main processor or as a secondary processor to add embedded features, such as network connectivity.

Processor core modules are designed to augment the features of an existing system. One of the most common uses for processor core modules is to add Ethernet connectivity to a series of existing computers, enabling them to be networked. Computers used in industrial settings are often single board computers, meaning the entire functionality of the computer is contained on one printed circuit board. A single board computer is useful in an industrial setting because they are dedicated to specific functions such as process control. A processor core module may function as a single board computer, or may be added to existing computers to add embedded features such as interfacing with multiple devices.

Processor core modules are used to create embedded systems for a specific application, such as motion control in an industrial application. They are used in virtually every industry because they can be designed for a specific and dedicated function, such as controlling the deployment of airbags or the antilock brakes in a car. An embedded system was used to control many of the guidance systems on the lunar landing modules and is even used in video games and home appliances. Processor core modules are used to build a custom embedded design where the software to run the application is contained in the firmware of the module, usually in flash memory or a ROM chip. Embedded designs are more cost effective and efficient than many multiple circuit board general purpose or personal computers.