RealTime IT News

Ruggedized Pentium Boards for Harsh Environments

It may sound like something out of a garage sale, but the availability of a new Pentium III processor board is a big deal for a small segment of the computer-buying universe.

On Monday, Parvus Corp. unveiled three ruggedized 800MHz Pentium III-based embedded processor boards: the SpacePC 1460, 1461 and 1463. These fanless, small form-factor CPU cards are designed to enable the Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) Intel Tualatin Pentium III processor to be reliably integrated into demanding mobile, high-vibration and extreme-temperature computing applications.

Founded in 1983, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company has specialized in the rapid design and production of turnkey embedded computing solutions for harsh environments for aerospace, defense, transportation, and industrial OEMs . Customers include some of the leading defense contractors. Parvus hardware is at the heart of many systems being used in Iraq and elsewhere, where they operate in buses, tanks, planes and other demanding environments.

Applications for embedded processors typically require far less processing power than desktop systems, and the Parvus board operates on a mere 15 watts of power. In fact, the ancient -- in desktop terms -- 386 processor is still widely used in embedded applications. Before this announcement, Parvus' most powerful board was based on a 400MHz Intel Celeron.

"You'd be surprised what you can accomplish without the overhead of a full version of Windows," said Parvus spokesman Mike Southworth. Parvus' boards work with all the popular low overhead real-time operating systems (RTOS) including Linux, QNX Neutrino, VxWork, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows CE.

Shipping now, the Parvus CPU-146X models are priced from $1,023 to $1,253 each in quantity of 100 units or more. The CPU-146X series includes 256MB of RAM soldered directly onto the boards to guarantee RAM compatibility, further enhance thermal performance, and ensure operation under shock and vibration stress when used in mobile applications.

Applications include systems requiring numerical calculation, data compression or high-data throughput rates to onboard high-speed peripheral interfaces.