Single Board Computers: Are They Really Important?

3 Mins read

Single board computers come with several benefits, though they are not common in homes or offices. They are compact, reliable, and highly efficient. They are the best computers for such things as automation, monitoring and controlling equipment. Also, they are used for other multiple industrial applications.

Single board computers are commonly used with backplanes, which enables them to connect systems with ease. These computers are not as powerful as their counterparts (standard tower computers) but they are highly effective for their specific purposes. Besides, they are great experimentation tools thanks to their low cost and simplicity and the fact that they can easily be joined to other hardware.

What exactly is a single board computer?

Single board computers differ from personal computers and desktops in terms of design, not their function. That’s because these computers come with all features of a complete computer. However, all these elements come as a single unit. If you like, you can call them self-contained computers whose components come in a single circuit board.

Desktop computers come with motherboards that have slots to attach the basic elements of a computer. For instance, the memory output and input devices, storage and the processor among other basic elements are attached through the sockets available on the motherboard. But single board computers feature a self-contained design.

The capability of a single board computer is increased differently from the desktop computers. To improve the capability of a desktop computer, a peripheral device is plugged into a socket on the motherboard. For example, a high-end video card is plugged into a specific socket on the motherboard. But as for single board computers, this along other vital computer elements makes up the circuit board.

Single board computers feature a comprehensive range of capacities. For instance, some are limited and slow, unlike the average desktop. That’s because they are designed to handle simple process

What’s the Use for a Single Board Computer?

Single board computers are mainly used in embedded applications. These computers cannot be expanded, and they have output and input ability to handle the task it’s meant for. For instance, vending equipment can have in-built embedded single board computers to manage the vending machine functions. However, there would be no room to expand the computer’s capacities in that no hardware can be added.

Single board computers are normally inserted into a backplane in most cases. With the backplane, output and input devices can be connected to the computer. Actually, single board computers are common in rack systems.

Why Single Board Computers are Prevalent in Industries

Single board computers are common in industries since they can carry out automation tasks. Besides, they feature specialized designs. They have their advantages over other types of computers.

Also, they are small, which makes it easy to embed them in devices with limited spaces. They are highly efficient and do not consume a lot of power. Their self-contained nature gives them an upper-hand as they are reliable even in tough environmental conditions.

Though the single board computers have less capacity compared to a multi-board computer, they are more expensive. Also, single board computers are specialized equipment and therefore not manufactured in similar quantities with typical multi-board motherboards.

Industries opt for single board computers since they are reliable and cost-effective. Their self-contained nature makes it easy to interchange them if the need arises.

Several backplane options make it possible to enlarge single board computers capability. As a result, their designs do not limit them entirely.


Single board computers come in different types. The most common are those that use backplane connections. These have designs that compliment with different architectures such as Intel architectures among others. Backplanes allow these computers to work with connections such as PCI and PCI X, among others.

How is an MCU different from Single Board Computers?

MCU and SBU differ. As earlier said, SBC is a complete computer that is established on a single circuit board. MCU is the acronym for Microcontroller Unit. It’s an embedded system with the ability to integrate the entire computer into one unit. Under its hood are memory, programmable output, and input pins, storage, and the processor. However, Microcontrollers are not as powerful and cannot be reprogrammed easily.

However, they don’t have to be re-programmable. MCU’s are used to perform a wide variety of tasks that a fully-fledged computer can’t handle perfectly. Besides, Microcontrollers are present in different embedded computers. These computers are available everywhere from the most recent IoT edge devices at home to industrial computers