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Development and prototype boards and systems are computer boards or complete systems that are used to develop or test electronic modules. They are used to evaluate programs for embedded devices such as controllers, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, kiosks, and information appliances. Development boards combine a processor, chipset, memory, and on-board peripherals with debugging features such as light emitting diodes (LED). Development systems consist of a central processing unit (CPU) module board and a base board. Specifications for development boards and systems include bus type, processor type, form factor, number of ports, port types, memory, and operating system. Many different types of products are available. Some suppliers describe development and evaluation boards and systems as prototype boards or evaluation boards. A prototype board is used to build a temporary circuit without soldering the components in place. An evaluation board provides a stable but flexible platform for evaluating circuit designs.

Development and prototype boards and systems are designed for use with processors from companies such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), International Business Machines (IBM), Hewlett-Packard (HP), Motorola, and Texas Instruments (TI). Supported processors for development boards include the Intel x386, Intel x486, Intel Itanium, Intel Pentium, Intel Xeon, Intel Celeron, and Intel XScale; AMD Athlon, AMD Duron, AMD Opteron, and AMD Geode; IBM Power NP; the HP Alpha Series, the Motorola 680 family; and Texas Instruments OMAP 311 (ARM). Supported operating systems (OS) for development and evaluation boards and systems include Windows XP and Linux.

There are many bus types for development and prototype boards and systems. Industry standard architecture (ISA) buses are I/O devices that can handle 16-bit data transfers at a clock speed of 8 MHz. Extended ISA (EISA), an enhanced version of the ISA bus, is capable of 32-bit data transfers. Peripheral component interconnect (PCI), a local bus system for high-end computers, can transfer 32 or 64 bits of data at a clock speed of 33 MHz.  Compact PCI (cPCI) uses the electrical standards of the PCI bus, but is packaged in a Versa Module Eurocard (VME) bus. The VME bus (VMEbus) for development boards is a rugged, 32-bit device used in industrial, commercial and military applications. Other bus types for development and prototype boards and systems are also available.