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April 1999

Industrial Computers

In the world of computing, it is become increasingly important to avoid downtime at any cost. The industrial computing platforms featured in this product roundup offer solutions to keep your mission-critical applications up and running. With the advent of PC-based PBXs, PC-based Internet telephony gateways, and the like, telecommunications professionals are also feeling the need to move their applications to platforms that feature increased fault tolerance and resilience.

As you read on, you'll find a list of nearly 40 companies that produce, provide, or otherwise make industrial computing platforms available to you. You'll also find a dozen or so resellers and distributors who can set you up with platforms that are more likely to keep your business up and running. We've scattered a wealth of information throughout this section as well, including sidebars on the various buses available on these platforms, tips on what to look for when buying industrial computers, a glossary, and more.

To paraphrase the words of my Publisher, any builder will tell you that a solid foundation is important in the construction of any building. Industrial computers are the foundation upon which to build your mission-critical Internet telephony applications. So, do your homework. Check out the Web sites of the companies listed in this roundup. Call them. Ask some probing questions. When you're done researching, you will be rewarded with a solid foundation to build your business.

- Greg Galitzine

Go to the sidebars:


132 Harrison Ave.
Panama City, FL 32401


The Prosody platform from Aculab offers speech recognition, matrix conferencing, record and playback, and pulse and tone detection with a single Application Programming Interface (API). The Prosody is based on the SHARC digital signal processor (DSP) and contains its own DSP algorithms for voice processing capability of up to 60 channels of operation per DSP. It supports MVIP, SCSA, and PEB buses, and is an open platform, allowing individual DSPs to run third-party code.

AAEON Electronics, Inc.
3 Crown Plaza
Hazlet, NJ 07730


AAEON has developed a range of industrial computing components including single board PCs, PC/104 modules, and peripherals. The company, which has been ISO 9001-certified since 1993, offers full-size CPU cards for industrial applications on 386, 486, Pentium, and Pentium Pro processors. Components include PC/104 expansion modules, peripheral cards, passive backplanes, panel display kits, chassis, and add-on devices.

ADMAX Computer, Inc.
One Chestnut St.
Nashua, NH 03060


ADMAX offers the S861 R 2 Rack-XXG series of workstations. Units consist of an 8-20-slot passive backplane with a single-board CPU, encased in a heavy steel or aluminum chassis. A protective door with a security lock is included to protect the disk drive, as well as a keyboard lock, a front-panel power and reset switch, and a disk activity LED. Other features include dual fans with modalic filters, an industrial-quality power supply with surge suppression, and shock-isolated mounting. Optional EIA standard fiber-optic interface cabling for eliminating EMI/RFI problems can be included if desired.

American Advantech Corp.
750 E. Arques Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086


American Advantech manufactures a variety of rackmount, wallmount, and desktop industrial PCs and accessories. The company also produces industrial workstations, panel PCs, CPU cards and backplanes, and industrial PC peripherals. Chassis range from 6-20 slots, and ISA and PCI backplanes are available. Other products include flash RAM/ROM disk cards, a flash disk module, and a PCMCIA module.

American Predator Corp.
18630 Sutter Blvd.
Morgan Hill, CA 95037


Industrial motherboards, as well as complete systems, are available through American Predator Corp. The company offers the APC System - models 1000-8500 - a series of compact, rugged, industrial computers. Motherboards include the 386/486 NSX, the Predator and Hunter series, and the Active backplane, which can be used as a standalone, passive backplane, or can be connected to an APC motherboard.

AMP, Inc.
P.O. Box 3608
Harrisburg, PA 17105-3608

AMP offers the 6U 84HP three-bus backplane for high-speed, enterprise telecommunications. The system has two 8-slot CompactPCI buses, a 32-bit TranSwitch CellBus, and a fully compliant computer telephony bus. The full, 21-slot backplane meets the PICMG 2.1 R1.0 standard and the PICMG CompactPCI 2.5 R1.0 specification. The system includes two dual-slot power bays, and Z-PACK 2-mm HM connectors for daughtercard slots.

APPRO International, Inc.
446 South Abbott Ave.
Milpitas, CA 95035


APPRO offers a wide range of industrial computer products including rackmount chassis, single board computer cards, power supplies, backplanes, monitors, keyboards, and other accessories. Systems include the APRE-7000 chassis, Appro's flagship product. The APRE features 2-level design and three hot-swap 82 CMF ball-bearing fans for add-on cards and motherboards on the top section, as well as an 82 CMF ball-bearing fan for lower section drives.

Arbor Technology Co.
No. 351 Sec.2, Chung Shan Rd.
Chung-Ho City, Taipei Taiwan R.O.C.


A variety of mobile workstations and rackmount and panelmount industrial PCs are available from Arbor Technology. The Demonad 9002 is a rugged mobile workstation with a 7-slot passive backplane and a 200W power supply. Rackmount systems are available in 10- and 14-slot passive backplane models, and are available with two keyboards and 250W power supplies. Panelmount systems also come in 10- and 14-slot models, and the IWS-527 and IWS-517 come with ready-to-run 486/Pentium Miniboards.

ASC Systems
Mack Pl., Box 566
St. Clair Sh., MI 48080


ASC offers its SUPRA-SERVERS line of scalable, multi-processor Pentium II/X machines, now available as scalable networking systems. The servers are Windows/NT and Unix-compatible, and have an open, redundant architecture for symmetric multiprocessing, RAID-5 cascaded hot-swappable storage, and LAN, VPN Host, Web, and Net communications. The SUPRAs feature a fault tolerant, redundant design, and include high-speed RAM memory, fault-resistant multi-GB disk storage, and N-channel WAN/Internet communications. Mid-tower and rack server enclosures are available.

Axiom Technology, Inc.
16801 E. Gale Ave., #D
City of Industry, CA 91745


Industrial offerings from Axiom Technology include a complete selection of CompactPCI products like a 3U chassis, 8-slot backplane, and a series of data acquisition boards that act as interfaces between analog and PC-compatible boards, modules, and terminal panels. Axiom also produces half-size and full-size single board computers, and panelmount industrial workstations with a passive backplane design. A 19" rackmount chassis has 12-20 slots, built-in drive space for four to six disk drives, and a 250-350W power supply. Other products include 19" disk array rack servers, an industrial node/wallmount chassis, Panel PCs, and embedded PC boards.

ChatCom, Inc.
9600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Chatsworth, CA 91311


ChatComm offers the ChatterBox Corporate Series, featuring the ChatPowerPlus solution for powering ChatCom's server modules. The ChatPowerPlus features a card cage with space for up to 14 hot-swappable server modules, and is able to utilize up to four power modules at 350W each. The system utilizes six independently powered fans to move air across the server and power modules. Each unit can accommodate as many as five 3.5" drives or three 5.25" drives in a removable disk cage. The ChatPowerPlus also offers a multifunction backplane with connectors for a shared monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and for chaining additional card cages to the unit.

Crystal Group, Inc.
850 Kacena Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233


The CS600 Chassis is one of the latest additions to the Crystal product line. The system is encased in a 19" rackmount chassis and is 2U high. It features a six-slot ISA or ISA/PCI PICMG 2.0-compliant passive backplane with a butterfly design. Cards may be mounted horizontally within the chassis. 100 and 1500W power supplies are available, and each unit has room for three 3.5" hard drive bays and two cooling fans. The system also has alarm capabilities and on-board system monitoring.

CSS Laboratories, Inc.
1641 McGaw Ave.
Irvine, CA 92614


The CSS MAXPro series features workgroup, application-specific, and enterprise servers, which can be configured for a motherboard or the 20-slot QuietBus passive backplane. Each system features redundant power supplies, hot-swappable disk drives, fans, and system management software for a fully fault-tolerant system. Other offerings from CSS include the Preferred PC desktop and workstation line, and the ProRACK rackmount system. The ProRACK features a rugged chassis design and is fault tolerant, with flexible configuration options.

Diversified Technology, Inc.
476 Highland Colony Pkwy
Ridgeland, MS 39158


Diversified uses ISA, EISA, PCI, and CompactPCI local bus technology to create its passive backplane IBM/AT-compatible industrial computers. The company offers a variety of 19" fault tolerant and rackmount enclosures, as well as tower enclosures, flat panels, portable platforms, and various card cages. The FTC600V CompactPCI Telco Enclosure is available in 3U, dual 3U, or 6U configurations. This dual redundant system is hot swappable, and includes a 500W universal AC power supply, and floppy and IDE drives that are internally mounted via drive cards. An optional drive module house can fit up to eight 5.25" half-height drives, and three 140 CFM fan cooling systems for front-mounted cards.

Force Computers
2001 Logic Drive
San Jose, CA 95124-3468


The new Centellis CO Series 16000 server platform from Force offers a 6-slot PICMG CompactPCI backplane and chassis architecture, as well as hot-swappable components and power redundancy. The Centellis comes in 19" and 23" rack-mountable chassis housing redundant N+1 power supplies, redundant front-to-back and bottom-to-top filtered cooling, and a media bay for scalable storage. Main features include a 233 MHz Pentium MMX processor with a half MB cache memory, and optional hardware RAID support.

General Micro Systems
14140-D Parke Long Court
Chantilly, VA 20151


General Micro Systems has added several industrial products to its service offerings over the past year. The V255 consists of two 6U VME boards (one CPU module and one I/O baseboard), connected through a local PSI bus. The CPU module is made up of two 233 MHz Pentium Processors with MMX support. Components include an ultra-wide SCSI interface with a pair of PMC expansion ports, 512 KB of L2 cache, 64-bit BLT graphics, and two 10/100BaseT Ethernet ports. General Micro Systems also offers the VMEvision, a Windows NT-based imaging system packaged in a VMEbus enclosure with dual 233 MHz Pentium or Pentium II processors. The system features a four-channel frame grabber, 64-bit BLT graphics, and up to 256 MB of main memory.

50 West Hoover Ave.
Mesa, AZ 85210


GESPAC produces a variety of industrial systems including the CPCI-784SP-8E/U 6U CompactPCI enclosure. A standard 3U CPU may be mounted in the enclosure, and the system is ready to use with a 3U Pentium or PowerPC board. It also comes standard with an 8-slot backplane, a 250W power supply, a 1.2 GB EIDE hard disk, and a 3.5" floppy drive. An optional 1U fan tray unit may be mounted at the bottom of the chassis, and pre-loaded WindowsNT or VxWorks/pSOS software is also optional.

I-Bus, Inc.
9174 Skypark Ct.
San Diego, CA 92123


The new I-Bus CompactPCI Galaxy16 enclosure is a 16-slot solution targeted at the telecommunication market. The enclosure has a rugged Eurocard format, and supports 14 6U expansion slots, up to three hot-swappable redundant power supplies, and a continuous H.110 telephony bus across all expansion slots. The unit also has a configurable drive enclosure with support for up to eight drives in either RAID or JBOD format. The Galaxy16 is made up of three main areas: a card cage for the CompactPCI slots, an optional drive enclosure, and the power supply subsystem.

Industrial CPU Systems
111-D W. Dyer Rd.
Santa Ana, CA 92707


The Model IS500 Rack Mount ISA Series is the latest offering from Industrial CPU Systems. The system features a passive AT backplane, shock-mounted drives, a hold-down bar for preventing plug-in boards from becoming unseated during shock or vibration, and a 110 CFM pressurizing fan. Components are protected by a steel chassis with clear zinc plating. Additional features of the system include a front drive bay for three 5.25" drives, or two 5.25" and two 3.5" half-height drives, front panel power and reset switches, a keyboard connector, and a fixed disk drive access LED.

Industrial Computer Source
6260 Sequence Dr.
San Diego, CA 92121-4371
Phone 619-677-0877


The P2BX series from Industrial Computer Source is sold as a hardware combination, and may be installed in a 10-, 15-, or 20-slot industrial chassis. Based on the Intel 440BX GP chipset, the system is sold in various models, with a variety of processor speeds from 350 to 450 MHz. The company also offers the Model 7490 Series of medium-capacity, 15-slot, rackmount chassis. Customers may select from various base models, backplanes, and power supplies through a three-part ordering guide.

1930 Junction Ave.
San Jose, CA 95131


INFITECH manufactures a variety of industrial computer components including enclosures, motherboards, and backplanes. The company's latest offering is the RC4208HR-RU Raid Chassis, with a 300W hot-swappable, redundant power supply. The unit features forced air from two rear fans, as well as one optional central fan. It includes a disk drive mount for eight 5.25" vertical drive bays, and features LEDs for power supply, hard disk activity, and hot swap power supply.

Interlogic Industries
85 Marcus Drive
Melville, NY 11747


Interlogic Industries manufactures industrial components from rackmount chassis to industrial workstations and passive backplanes. The RK1220 PC/AT compatible chassis features a 20-slot ISA or 19-slot ISA/PCI passive backplane and modular components. The system comes with space for six half-height 5.25" or three 3.5" drive bays. Additional features include multiple power supply configurations, front-mounted reset, HDD activity indicators, and lighted power switches, and the ability to accommodate as many as 20 full-length cards.

8 Elkins Rd.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816


The various components offered by ITOX add up to a wide range of industrial computing solutions. The G486VPC motherboard supports CPUs from Intel, Cyrix, AMD, and SGS-Thomson, as well as two IDE connectors, six dedicated ISA slots, and one dedicated PCI slot. The G7VP2 goes to the next level, offering five dedicated 16-bit ISA slots, one PCI slot, and one shared PCI/ISA slot. Another solution, available as a motherboard or a platform, is the 586ITOX - featuring six full-length ISA slots, built-in video, a watchdog timer, and automatic reboot.

Kontron Elektronik Corp.
4440 Von Karman Ave., Ste. 200
Newport Beach, CA 92660


Kontron produces the IN series of industrial computers to meet a variety of needs. The IN Rave is an industrial notebook with two module bays for various components, batteries, or drives. The unit features a removable hard disk and an expansion area for an ISA, PCI, or CD-ROM drive. The IN Lite industrial notebook model features a Pentium MMX 166 MHz processor, and a high-impact magnesium case to resist vibration and shock. The unit is compact, with a built-in AC/DC power supply and integrated status display, as well as a detachable keyboard, and high-resolution graphics display. And the IP Lite laptop features a Pentium MMX processor and a removable hard disk. The unit has five expansion slots, and easily swappable AC/DC power supplies.

MiTAC Industrial Corporation
42001 Christy St.
Fremont, CA 94528


MiTAC has come up with an industrial solution that is smaller than a shoebox. The MCH-314 is a 4-slot mini-node industrial chassis, and can be configured with four PCI half-slot cards or 4 ISA cards with both AC and DC power inputs. The 4-layer passive backplane combined with two ports for 9-pin and 25-pin I/O reserved ports make the unit easy for upgrading. The MCH-314 comes with hold-down clamps to protect cards from vibrations, a drive bay for a 3.5" floppy drive and a 3.5" hard drive, and a built-in 100W AC input power supply. An optional 24V/48V DC input power supply may also be included.

1650 West McNab Rd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309-1088


The REAL/STAR II series of PICMG and VME-based systems from MODCOMP are available with single and dual Pentium processors. The units feature a 20-slot PCI/ISA passive backplane for 166 and 200 MHz configurations with up to 256 MB of RAM. High-end servers with as many as four Pentium processors, RAID storage, and hot-swappable power supplies are also part of the series. The REAL/IX PX system works with REAL/STAR systems as a real-time, fully preemptive operating system, based on the UNIX System V.

Motorola Computer Group
2900 South Diablo Way
Tempe, AZ 85282


Motorola offers a broad selection of industrial computer systems and components geared toward the telecommunications market. The company's FX Series of fault tolerant systems platforms uses the trademarked Split Mode technology, which allows SDM software to be upgraded and CPU modules to be installed or upgraded while the system is in service. The FX series features hot swappable components, telco alarms, and I/O slots ranging from six to 22.

Multimedia Computer Solutions, Inc.
400 Union Ave., Unit 4
Haskell, NJ 07420


Multimedia Computer Solutions offers the MCS 5000 and MCS 3000/PP passive-backplane industrial units. The MCS 5000 features a 20-slot chassis with rack or tabletop mounting, capable of holding four disk drives. The unit includes a 300W UL/CSA/TUV listed power supply, a removable air filter, and 16-gauge steel construction on the chassis. The MCS 3000 is a positive pressure chassis with room for a 14-slot passive backplane or a PC/AT motherboard. It features space for three to five disk drives, three cooling fans, removable air filters, and keyboard connections on the front or rear.

Natural MicroSystems
100 Crossing Blvd.
Framingham, MA 01702-5406


New hot-swap CompactPCI network interface boards have been developed by Natural MicroSystems for telecom solutions. The CompactPCI Alliance Generation Quad T1 and E1 both support four integrated digital trunk interfaces, with 96 and 120 ports of advanced call processing for a single slot. Both systems support the Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum (ECTF) H.110 specification. The Quad T1 provides 96 ports of call processing and up to 60 ports of programmable voice processing in one slot. The Quad E1 offers 120 ports of call processing and up to 60 ports of programmable voice processing in one slot. Advanced DSP-based voice and a downloadable signaling protocol are some of the additional features.

OpenTec Pty Ltd.
6 Lyon Park Road
North Ryde, NSW 2113 Australia
Ph: 61-2-9878-1744


Opentec offers the Openfire family of servers, which work in NT and UNIX environments by utilizing SPARC, Intel, or Alpha-based platforms. Openfire combines industry-standard SCSI storage with the chosen CPU technology, and offers a RAID option for additional fault tolerance. The Openfire 100 is available as an entry-level solution, the Openfire 200 is midrange, and the Openfire 400 is a high-availability solution.

SBS Micro Alliance
1384-A Poinsettia Ave.
Vista, CA 92083


SBS Micro Alliance offers the CP8000 industrial rackmount CompactPCI enclosure for telecommunications and wireless communication, as well as medical instrumentation. The system comes with an 8-slot backplane and dual hot-swappable power supplies and cooling fans. The company also offers the FTU-2000 rackmount, fault tolerant PC as part of its PRO Reliant Series. The system comes with a 19-slot PCI/ISA passive backplane (with four PCI slots), and can also accommodate backplanes with up to 16 PCI slots. An optional power-segmented backplane is available as well. Dual-redundant 400W AC hot-swappable power supplies are included, as well as three hot-swappable cooling fans.

Tangent Computers
197 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010


One of the newest offerings from Tangent Computers is Workshop, a workstation series featuring dual-slot Pentium II Xeon technology. The line features support for 400 MHz or faster CPUs, and a 100 MHz bus 440GX AGPset. Each model includes a Symmetric Glyder TX AGP video card with 8 MBs of VRAM, a 9 GB LVD hard drive, a 32X Toshiba internal SCSI CD-ROM drive, 64 MB of SDRAM which is expandable to 2 GB , and a 1.44" floppy drive. The Workshop also includes a 17-inch SVGA 1600 x 1280 monitor and pre-installed Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

Technoland, Inc.
1050 Stewart Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94086


Technoland, an ISO 9001 certified company, produces industrial computing solutions from backplanes to chassis. The TL Rack series of rackmount chassis scales from 6-20 slots on ISA/PCI backplanes. The TL Rack 500 is also configurable for AT/ATX M/B, and features a CE/UL AT or ATX power supply with options for 250W or 400W. The unit features shock resistant drive bays with capacity for two open 5.25" drives, 1 open 3.5" drive, and 2 internal 3.5" drives. Other components include dual cooling fans with air filters, and a hold-down bar design to secure cards.

Teknor Industrial Computers, Inc.
616 Cure Boivin
Boisbriand, QC Canada J7G 2A7

One of Teknor's latest offerings, the TEK CPCI-1004, is a CompactPCI single board computer targeted for OEMs and systems integrators. The system supports a Pentium MMX processor at 200 and 233 MHz, and uses an ALI Aladin V chipset. The board also supports a front-side bus of up to 100 MHz, and offers optional usage of CompactFlash, which is solid state disk memory. The unit is available as a 6U single slot or a 6U dual slot.

Texas Micro, Inc.
5959 Corporate Drive
Houston, TX 77036


Texas Micro, an ISO 9001 manufacturer, offers the 2010 series of embedded industrial systems based on a 10-slot passive backplane. Backplanes are available in 10-slot ISA or 2 ISA/2 CPU/6 PCI slots. Systems are packaged in a compact PC/AT chassis, and two units may be housed side by side in a 19" rack, or in a wallmount or benchtop mounting configuration. The series provides space for up to three components, with one 5.25" device, one 3.5" device, and another 3.5" device, which can be mounted internally.

Trenton Technology
2350 Centennial Drive
Gainesville, GA 30504


Trenton Technology, a member of PICMG, has developed the CBI Celeron single board computer system. Utilizing the Intel 440BX chipset with an accelerated graphics port interface, the CBI supports system/memory bus speeds of 66 and 100 MHz. The unit has room for two floppy disk drives in combinations of 360K and 2.88 MB, and offers a PCI ultra-wide SCSI interface, and a watchdog timer.

Ziatech Corporation
1050 Southwood Drive
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


Ziatech prides itself on being the originator of CompactPCI. The company's latest offering, the STD 32 bus, is available as an 8-, 16-, or 32-bit scalable computer. The unit can support 16- and 32-bit data transfers over the backplane, without the multiplexing of signals, and can run at 32 Mbps for high-speed data applications. Other features include multiprocessing, high-speed direct memory access, 32-bit addressing, slot-specific interrupts, and hot-swap capability.


Alliance Systems, Inc.
3001 Summit Ave., Ste. 400
Plano, TX 75074


In addition to being a leading distributor of industrial software and hardware components, Alliance offers the Alliant CTS series of rackmount telephony platforms. ATX motherboards and passive backplanes are available with PCI and ISA slots. The Alliant SSP series of platforms and servers are designed with Sun UltraSPARC II CPUs for high performance and multiprocessing abilility.

Arista Corp.
4053 Clipper Ct.
Fremont, CA 94358


Arista carries industrial components from workstations and barebone systems to passive backplanes, chassis, and single board computers. ISA/PCI products are focused on embedded solutions, data acquisition, and portable computers. Peripherals available through Arista include rackmount keyboards, monitors, UPS, and CPU switch boxes.

ComPort Distributions Ltd.
100 Oakland Ave.
Port Jefferson, NY 11777


ComPort specializes in hardware and software distribution solutions for value-added resellers (VARs), including network faxing, fax broadcasting, IVR communication servers, Internet fax, and voice applications. The company carries a variety of products from companies including Ariel, Artisoft, Dialogic, Lucent, Netphone, and VoiceQuest.

Catalyst Telecom
11 Commerce Drive
Cranford, NJ 07016


Catalyst is a distributor of industrial products, working exclusively with VARs to provide a wide variety of telephony, cable, and wire products. The company offers products from vendors such as AMP, Bogen, CallWare, Comdial, Lucent, TT Systems, Viking, and Vodavi.

Ingram Micro, Inc.
1600 E. St. Andrew Place
P.O. Box 25125
Santa Ana, CA 92799-5125


Ingram Micro is the world's largest wholesale distributor of technology components. The company offers more than 190,000 products from over 1,400 hardware and software manufacturers, and has special divisions for each technology and product category. Ingram's Enterprise Computing Division offers enterprise solutions to VARs and support systems integrators. Products include Hewlett Packard HP 9000 RISC workstations, multiuser HP 9000 systems, and other HP client/server products.

Merisel, Inc.
200 Continental Blvd.
El Segundo, CA 90245


Merisel, an ISO 9002-certified company, is a distributor and reseller of more than 25,000 leading hardware and software products from companies such as Sun, APC, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft, and IBM. The company has formed the Merisel Open Computing Alliance (MOCA) to support Sun Microsystems products and related components from other vendors. Resellers who are part of MOCA receive support from field and sales engineers, a regional field sales engineer, a sales development manager, and a financial services representative.

Phillips Corporation
9135 Guilford Rd.
Columbia, MD 21046


Phillips offers a variety of industrial computer components through its Un-Office platforms. The company builds custom solutions using products from manufacturers like Axiom, IBM, Hayes, US Logic, and Ziatech. End products are targeted toward the telephony and telecommunications markets.

Pinacor, Inc.
3001 South Priest Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85282


Pinacor is a worldwide distributor to VARs, resellers, systems integrators, and dealers, carrying products from companies that include Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu, IBM, Compaq, and Acer. Pinacor recently announced its Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, which supplies high-end solutions to the enterprise computing market. IBM, 3Com, and Nortel were added as vendors for the new unit.

Sys Technology, Inc.
6481 Global Drive
Cypress, CA 90630


Sys has added the "Cool" PowerHouse 600 workstation to its line of distributed industrial systems. The PowerHouse is based on dual Pentium II Xeon 450 MHz processors, which are thermally accelerated to run at 600 MHz. The GA-6GXDU motherboard from Giga-Byte Technology Co. is included, along with cooling technology from KryoTech, Inc. The PowerHouse supports the 440GX AGP chipset, as well as the Adaptec AIC-7896 controller for dual channel, ultra2 SCSI. The system may also be transformed into a CAD workstation, Internet server, or corporate data warehouse.

Tech Data Corporation
5350 Tech Data Drive
Clearwater, FL 33760


Tech Data distributes products to resellers from all major manufacturers. The company serves more than 100,000 resellers throughout the world, and offers over 75,000 products and services, including electronic commerce solutions. The company's Computer Components Product Division has more than 10,000 products including system platforms, motherboards, cases, memory, drives, video cards, keyboards, and monitors.

Trilogic Systems
301 Ballardvale St.
Wilmington, MA 01887


Trilogic offers systems integration services for OEMs, including telephony solutions, PCI/ISA, CompactPCI, and VME components, chassis, enclosures, and operating systems. The company carries products from Ampro, Dialogic, Electronic Solutions, Force, Intecolor, Natural MicroSystems, Texas Micro, VMETRO, Wind River Systems, and Xycom.

Xinergy Microsystems
278 Daniel Webster Hwy.
Nashua, NH 03060


Xinergy provides solutions within the Windows NT and Novell Intranetware environments, and is an authorized reseller of most major hardware, software, and services. The company offers system planning, network setup, upgrades, updates, and cabling. Xinergy also offers custom business workstations and applications.

Bus Architecture Terms To Know

The VMEbus standard traces its roots to work done by several companies, including Mostek, Motorola, and Signetics, in the early 1980s. The acronym VME actually stands for Versa Module Eurocard (VERSAbus was a bus developed by Motorola in the 1970s). VMEbus modules are used to construct powerful and rugged (industrial) computer systems with applications in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications. The regular VMEbus standard accommodates 32 bit address and data buses. Data transfers are 8, 16, or 32 bytes wide. The newer VME64 standard makes more efficient use of unused bandwidth to enable 64 bit transfers.

ISA (or Industry Standard Architecture) is one of the most commonly used expansion buses in the PC world. This design specification allows components to be added as cards plugged into standard expansion slots in IBM and compatible personal computers. ISA was originally introduced in the IBM PC/XT with an 8-bit data path. In 1984, when IBM introduced the PC/AT, ISA was expanded to permit a 16-bit data path. (A 16-bit ISA slot is actually two separate 8-bit slots mounted end-to-end.) Through the years, manufacturers have resisted modifications to the standard, allowing it to remain relatively unchanged since that time.

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) is a specification introduced by Intel Corporation that defines a local bus system that allows up to 10 PCI-compliant expansion cards to be installed in the computer. A peripheral bus commonly used in PCs (IBM compatible and Macintosh), PCI debuted in late 1993. PCI can exchange data with the CPU either 32 bits or 64 bits at a time, as well as allowing intelligent, PCI-compliant adapters to multitask concurrently with the CPU using a technique called bus mastering. PCI also enables the identification of peripheral cards and works with the OS and BIOS to automatically set resource allocations for compatible peripherals. This is more commonly referred to as plug and play. The most current revision of the PCI specification allows a bus clock speed of 66 MHz, which results in theoretical throughput of 266 and 533 MBps.

CompactPCI is a modern, high-performance industrial bus based on the standard PCI electrical specification, on a rugged 3U or 6U Eurocard packaging. The Eurocard describes a family of European-designed printed circuit boards that use 96-pin plugs rather than edge connectors. The CompactPCI board uses a 2-mm metric pin and socket connector and can be front-loaded into a rack mount system. Cards are mounted vertically allowing for natural forced air convection cooling. The power and signal pins on the CompactPCI connector are staged to allow support for hot swapping, a feature that is very important for fault tolerant systems. Compact PCI features include: 32 or 64-bit synchronous data bus, 32-bit address bus, 133 or 266 MBps data transfer rate, multiprocessing, up to 8 slot backplanes, bridging from PCI to PCI or from PCI to other buses, and plug and play.

PCI Takes A Stand


"Marketing, marketing, and more marketing," would be a good title for many of the articles and seminars being produced extolling the virtues of CompactPCI (CPCI) over standard PCI technology. The unfortunate outcome of this type of marketing is that people actually view the information as if it were unbiased technical data from which they can make intelligent investment decisions. But unfortunately, this is not the case. And in order to make an informed decision about CPCI versus PCI, the buying audience must become self-educated to make a proper decision. Please note the information below as a partial comparison.

Regarding open standards and the PCI bus: CompactPCI architecture and the standard PCI architecture utilize identical silicon, firmware, software, operating system, drivers, and applications detect no differences between the two. Both CPCI and standard PCI conform to the same base PCI SIG performance specifications. There is no bandwidth difference between the two, and functionally, they are identical in performance. Conventional PCI in the industrial passive backplane format has long been specified through the open standard PICMG v1.0 promulgated through the same organization that developed CompactPCI.

Relative to reliability: The idea that CPCI is inherently more reliable in a telco environment that standard industrial PCI passive backplane architecture is incorrect. Industrial computer offerings using standard PCI bus architecture have passed the rigorous NEBS Level 3 testing requirements as well as 10G droop tests. Standard PCI edge architecture meets or exceeds the minima set by the PCI SIG specifications and complies with the industry standard PICMG 1.0 specification.

Industrial computers provide extensive cooling that can issue no more than 10 degree C rise over ambient temperature. Alarm and monitoring functionality is offered to provide visual and audible alerts in the event of any heat related problems. CPCI relies on normal convection or the user/integrator/manufacturer to add external fans as desired. And most importantly, vertical cooling significantly limits the density in which the units can be mounted in a telco rack environment, making CPCI much less space efficient making CPCI anything but a "compact" solution.

Also of interest is that PC development is done around the demands of the desktop industry in line with PCI bus architecture specifications. New advancements will always be available for the edge connector technology first. Just because the standard PCI architecture is easy to redesign into the CPCI form factor, doesn't mean it is inexpensive. CPCI will see the latest advancements only if peripheral vendors see a large enough demand to make the transition profitable.

Standard PCI and CPCI architecture offer the same performance standards relative to reliability, flexibility, and open standards. The difference comes down to cosmetic appeal. Standard PCI and ISA edge technology is performing in telco environments worldwide and has been doing so with NEBS Level 3 certifications for many years. CPCI and standard PCI architecture will perform equally in all respects except total cost of ownership, where CPCI is significantly higher.

In summary, it appears that the majority of those interested in the CPCI architecture are those who want the same look and feel of VME bus technology. The technological decision as it relates to functionality, reliability, and architectural flexibility is equal either way. And the most cost-effective solution is current passive backplane PCI technology. We invite you to do the research and be the final judge.

Curt Nelson is president of Crystal Group Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial grade fault tolerant computers specializing in the design and manufacture of space-efficient computer systems for the fast-paced networking and communications market. For more information, visit Crystal's Web site at www.crystalpc.com.

CompactPCI: Coming On Strong


Open standards have been the norm in the computer industry since the early 1980's. While their adoption by the telephony and telecom industries has been recent by comparison, equipment manufacturers realize that incorporating open industry standards broadens the market for their products. It also encourages competition by vendors to these equipment builders, lowering prices and increasing the range of available products. Desktop PCs are a great example of this phenomenon and they have been a popular platform for telephony applications for many years. PCs offer a lot of compute power and they are cheap, but they are less than robust and product lifetimes can be measured in months, at best.

The desire for improved product stability, plug-in processor cards, and chassis that provided better cooling, more slots, better serviceability, bigger power supplies, and rack mounting led to the development of the Passive Backplane PCI/ISA standard in 1994. Big, beefy boxes with better cooling and large drive bays emerged and have been a very popular choice for telephony suppliers. But, many of the problems inherent to the PC architecture remain. Cooling is sub-optimal. Secondary voice buses are typically routed on flat cables on the top of cards, and replacement or maintenance is difficult. And, the ISA bus is going away. Still, the low cost, high performance, and wide availability of PCI peripherals have made this a popular architecture.

CompactPCI was developed to provide a superior mechanical structure for PCI electronics. The Eurocard packaging standards were the key. CompactPCI utilizes a vertical passive backplane and cards plug directly into the front or rear of a chassis without partial disassembly of the box. The vertical card orientation provides optimal cooling, with power dissipation ratings of up to 1000W per 19" chassis. That hot air rises is the reason chimneys are vertical, not horizontal!

CompactPCI uses reliable, gas tight 2-mm metric connectors for all signals. The PCI bus itself is fully defined for 64 bits and up to three additional connectors can be added to 6U boards for a total of 315 additional pins. These are ideal for applications like telephony that require sub-buses like H.110 and lots of I/O. The CompactPCI Computer Telephony Specification, released in early 1988 and supported by major voice board suppliers provides a stable framework for building voice and VoIP systems.

CompactPCI cards plug directly into the front of the chassis and are hot swappable, which reduces downtime. Metal front panels provide additional environmental protection and allow systems to meet tough international safety and emissions standards. The CompactPCI specification also permits systems to be built that bring I/O into the rear of the chassis on a semi-permanent basis through passive 80-mm transition cards that route I/O through the backplane to the front card. This means that when a front circuit card is replaced, all of the cables associated with that card do not have to be unplugged and replugged.

Hundreds of CompactPCI cards are now available, including virtually every imaginable processor and I/O interface, including T1/E1, voice, LAN, and WAN. Chassis ranging from low cost 8 slot to high end, 21-slot Bellcore NEBS compliant boxes for mission critical applications give the CompactPCI platform great scalability and flexibility. CompactPCI has arrived!

Joe Pavlat is Director of Strategic Planning for Motorola Computer Group (www.mcg.mot.com). He is also President of the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG), an industry consortium of 440 companies worldwide. PICMG developed the passive backplane PCI/ISA and CompactPCI specifications. For more information on PICMG, visit their Web site at www.picmg.com.

Industrial Computer Points to Ponder

We asked Laura Skinner, vice president and general manager of the telecom integration division at Ingram Micro (www.ingrammicro.com), what buyers should look for when considering the purchase of an industrial computing platform. Here’s what she had to offer:

  1. Reliability: Use of Redundant and Hot-Swappable components to maintain maximum system availability. No business can afford to be without telephone service, therefore your platform for a PC-based system or VoIP solution must be reliable.

  2. Power Supply: Examine the power draw of the voice boards the solution will use and verify that it does not exceed the capacity of your power supply. Some boards provide analog ring generation directly on the card, which places a much greater load on the platform's power supply.

  3. Capacity: How many slots are available for telephony boards? What is the maximum port density possible, based on quantity and type of slots. (i.e., if it is an ISA card, how many available ISA slots are there?) See the power supply issue above for further issues regarding maximum capacity.

  4. Positive Airflow: Most PC's in this class provide positive airflow and filtering systems to ensure that "industrial" byproducts (dust, etc.) do not get drawn into the system, thereby avoiding problems that can shorten the components' life span, or cause malfunctions.

  5. Rack Mountable: This has become less of an issue since many "non-industrial" server-class systems have become rack mountable, but for many IT/IS managers, it is still an important feature.

  6. Open System: Systems based on Industrial PC platforms generally cost less and are easier and cheaper to repair should there be a service issue. This makes them popular with IT/IS Managers as well. Multiple sources for parts means lower cost for repair.

  7. Custom Configurations: The manufacturer or integrator should be able to comply with your requests for customizing the system to your specifications.

  8. Self-Monitoring/Remote Notification: A parameter which exceeds a pre-programmed threshold, such as ambient temperature within the chassis or power supply voltage, could initiate a dial-out on a phone line to notify the system administrator of potential or actual problems.

  9. Redundant and Powerful: A industrial PC - as bullet-proof, redundant, and powerful as a traditional phone system - allows CTI products like PC-based PBXs, voice mail systems, and Internet telephony gateways to stay up and running with the same reliability as traditional "proprietary" PBX's.


Backplane - Similar to a motherboard, a backplane is a circuit board with sockets, which other boards and expansion cards may be plugged into. A backplane may be active, in which logical circuitry performs the computing functions. It may also be passive, in which circuitry is located on a plug-in card, and failure rate is significantly low. It is easier to repair and upgrade components on a passive backplane.

Bus - A bus is the collection of wires that allow data to travel throughout a computer. The bus connects internal components to the CPU and main memory. The size of the bus determines how much data can be transferred. (See Bus Architecture Terms To Know for more information.)

Chassis - The rack or case that houses an industrial computer's circuit boards, power supply, and wiring, and contains slots for expansion boards. Chassis are typically available in rackmount or tower models in which components are stacked on top of one another, or more compact desktop models.

EMI - Electromagnetic interference.

Fault Tolerant - If a computer is protected against software and hardware errors when a power failure occurs, it is said to be fault tolerant. Usually, the system will switch to other equipment to protect against failure.

Hot Swappable - Describes a component of an industrial computer system that may be replaced without interruption to the rest of the system.

Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) - IDE is a standard interface for disk drives that incorporates drive controller functions directly into the hardware. An IDE drive is attached to the motherboard instead of a controller card, and may also be a CD-ROM drive.

ISO 9000 series - This set of standards, established by the International Standards Organization in Paris, provides quality assurance and management guidelines for products. A company may receive ISO 9000 certification, ensuring that their product was developed under these guidelines.

PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) - This consortium of vendors advocates open standards in industrial computing. The group has established specifications for CPU boards and backplanes that allow products from different vendors to be used interchangeably. The group has also specified CompactPCI standards.

Portability - When an operating system may be moved from one hardware platform to another with minimal recoding, it is said to be portable.

Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks (RAID) - Several disk drives are grouped together and data is mirrored over multiple disk drives. If one drive fails, the data may be retrieved from the other drives for redundancy and fault resilience.

RFI - Radio Frequency interference.

Scalability - If a system is built so that additional components may be easily added, it is known as scalable. Scalability also refers to the system's "adaptability" to increased demands.

Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) - The SCSI bus and parallel interface standard allows components such as hard disks and tape drives to communicate with a peripheral device that uses embedded intelligence. The interface supports one master host and seven or more slave peripherals, connected in a daisy chain through a cable to a SCSI expansion board known as a host adapter.

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