PC/104 modules are tied to the ISA-Bus standard that is mainly used in embedded systems. The modules are 3.6" x 3.8" and can be self-stacked to save space. The PC/104 standard offers full architecture, hardware, and software compatibility with the PC bus. PC/104 is ideally suited to the unique requirements of embedded control applications PC/104-Plus establishes a standard for the use of the fast PCI bus in PC/104 form factor embedded applications. Dedicated and embedded applications for PC/104 modules are used as controllers within laboratory instruments, communications devices, and medical equipment, to name just a few examples.
Product types using PC/104 modules include bus interfaces or adapter modules, memory modules, CPU modules, network modules, modem or fax modules, serial communications modules, wireless communications modules, and power supply modules. An interface or adapter is a computer board that translates the data from the PC/104 bus to another bus and vice versa. It is used to connect two non-compatible buses. Memory modules are boards that contain memory chips. CPU modules are boards that contain a processor (CPU). Network modules are boards that are network adapters, such as Ethernet, token ring, etc. A Modem/Fax (MODulator-DEModulator) card enables a computer to transmit data over the telephone lines. Because computer information is digital data and information transmitted over the telephone lines is transmitted in analog waves, a modem converts between these two forms. A serial Card provides one or more serial ports to a host computer. The card interfaces the host with a PC/104 bus and adds RS232 / RS422 or other types of serial ports. A wireless communications module is a network adapter used in wireless networks. A power supply module is a power supply totally contained in a PC/104 module. It is important to specify between PC/104 and PC/104Plus when searching for PC/104 modules. The number of ports is also important to consider.