Advantech's MI/O Extension standard and a look at the high-performance 4th Gen Intel Core U-Series-powered MI/O-Compact Single Board Computer as a powerful, low maintenance building block for IoT and intelligent systems design (by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer) There is a large number of different CPU board formats for embedded computer projects. Each board format optimizes certain hardware standards and technologies. The advantage of such boards is that they enable inexpensive, scalable, and obsolescence-proof systems solutions — when new CPU technology comes along you can simply put in a new CPU board. The availability of all those boards enables system integrators to concentrate on their expertise in specialized products, rather than having to design entire new systems. The drawback is that standards-based boards do not always support all interface requirements for a project, and despite the large number of board standards, there simply may not be one that fit special project needs. To address this problem, Advantech created the MI/O Extension Single Board Computer. Conceptually, MI/O is between standard single board computers and computers on modules. It's in essence a single board computer with flexible multiple I/O support (hence the name MI/O). There are currently two different MI/O standards: MI/O-Ultra measures 100 x 72 mm (same as a 2.5-inch disk) and is for ultra low power TDPs (under 8 watts) with simple I/O. MI/O Compact measures 146 x 102 mm (same as a 3.5-inch disk) and is for TDPs up to 40 watts, rich I/O, and mid- to high-end performance. They may therefore include boards with up to standard voltage mobile Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors and similar designs. The Compact Series also supports extended temperature design and comes with Advantech iManager chip that provides a standardized API for standard platform functions, and a self-management agent with software control functions (see iManager page and iManager white paper). What does the MI/O Extension standard mean for developers and system integrators? It means there is now a SBC standard that provides substantial additional versatility via MI/O extension modules that connect to the main board through standardized "MIO Unified Connector" high speed sockets. Customers have the option of: Off-the-shelf MIO Extension modules Custom modules designed by Advantech Modules designed by customers This way, customers have flexible I/O choices to meet the needs of their vertical applications. With pins for PCIe, USB 2.0 and 3.0, LPC, DisplayPort, SMBus, HD Audio and power, MIOe facilitates a completely customized approach to meet any customer interface requirements. The image above shows a MI/O SBC and an expansion module.