When to switch from PC to embedded: Going tailor-made can actually save you money
In these challenging times, companies are facing increasing pressure to lower costs and speed up time to market. While many companies continue to opt for standard PC-based platforms, it is becoming apparent that embedded solutions are a more logical choice on the basis of price, performance, customization, and security.
Simply stated, a PC is a general purpose system able to do multiple tasks at the same time. So if all you want from your device is one specific main function—like display advertisements—you are likely spending too much, because you pay for a lot of excess capabilities and features you will never use.
An embedded system gives you the exact same performance but on hardware that fits like a closely cut tailor-made suit.
Advantages of Embedded Systems over PC
- Lower unit cost: expect to save up to 80%
- Less power consumption means greener and more economical in operation
- No need for ventilation means far less susceptible to malfunction from humidity or dust
- Smaller boards means smaller units that are easier to transport and install
- “Thinner,” meaning that applications have more direct control over and faster access to the hardware, which contributes to overall system performance
- Not susceptible to viruses
- Custom development takes time and money
- Software development is intertwined with hardware
- Maintenance can be more challenging
These issues used to prevent a lot of companies from going embedded, but with recent platform developments coming out of Taiwan most of these disadvantages are rapidly disappearing.
1. Custom development
Fortunately these days many products are actually variations of existing ones, and Titoma has access to a multitude of low cost embedded platforms that can be quickly adapted to fit whatever requirements you might have. This saves a massive amount of work, development budget, and enables you to profit from the economies of scale in Asia.
Another big advantage of a tailor made unit is that we can design to withstand specific problems it is likely to encounter, not only with a ruggedized housing but also by picking components which can withstand tough environments, such as unstable power supply.
2. Software development
Writing software for embedded devices is heavily dependent on the hardware, and so is best done by people familiar with the intricacies of the platform.
Or if you were to use Android you can do the programming yourself, but do count on paying an extra $50 to $60 in hardware.
Any service engineer can repair a PC, but fixing an embedded system can only be done by specially trained personnel. But the cost of an embedded device is now in many cases lower than the cost of a service call.
Embedded systems need less servicing than a PC because they tend to work at lower temperatures, thus does not require a fan – often the first part to malfunction.
Lastly, embedded systems can now be remotely monitored and maintained: not only can we update the contents but we can update firmware wirelessly.
All this means that many companies who have always been buying off-the-rack PCs are now suddenly realizing how much they can save by going with a custom tailored solution. We see this especially in digital signage, kiosks, media players, tablets, public video phones, ATM’s and more.
Guideline: If you buy more than 500 units, especially under 12 inches, for one dedicated solution, you’re likely paying too much, and it’s time to see the tailor.
If you are interested in making the switch, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.
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