Trend Leans App-Specific
By providing a complete, all-in-one, embedded computing and HMI (human-machine interface), panel PCs enable any embedded system to display information and enable user control. The latest trend amongst these products is toward application-specific units for medical, transportation, industrial and other applications.
Panel PCs are a type of display system that are meant to be mounted on a factory wall or on the side of an industrial machine. And rather than simply being a display, panel PCs embed complete single board computing functionality, providing a complete embedded solution. Most modern Panel PCs are touchscreen displays unless they are basically digital signage displays.
The product album of representative panel PCs in this article shows a wide variety of products that vary in size and feature sets. Panel PCs embed full blown SBCs, often using the latest and greatest embedded microprocessors, including Intel Whiskey Lake, Kaby Lake and others. Because panel PCs tend to be installed in long-life cycle applications, using embedded processors makes sense. Industrial systems such as factory automation and process control are among the most common uses for Panel PCs. But the latest trend includes medical panel PCs that are outfitted with special safety- and hygiene friendly features. In recent years, wireless communication support has become more universal in panel PCs, providing Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology for remote applications where cabling connections aren’t practical.
In an application example of panel PCs, a Taiwan-based medical systems integrator Imedtac deployed ADLINK products to build surgical imaging systems and mobile medical carts to address some of the challenges facing healthcare providers. Preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is a top priority in the healthcare industry, and perhaps even more so with the rise in infectious diseases throughout the world. HAIs can occur when the medical device itself becomes contaminated and serves as a means of transmission of microorganisms directly or indirectly from an infected individual to a patient. An imaging platform developed by Imedtac allows doctors to view multiple medical images from one display built with ADLINK Technology’s MLC8 and MLC-AL/MLC-KL medical panel PCs (Figure 1).
These ADLINK panel PCs allow for easy cleaning by medical care teams after use, prevent bacterial growth in cracks, and shorten operating room turnover time. The hygienic design includes a screwless, fully-sealed housing, edge-to-edge touch panel (no frame), on-screen buttons (no physical buttons), antibacterial surface coating and IP54 protection.
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • MARCH 2021 #368 – Get a PDF of the issue
Medical Panel PCs Feature Compact Design
ADLINK Technology's MLC-AL/MLC-KL Series of medical panel computers feature a fully sealed aluminum housing for easy cleaning. As a result of its hygienic surface design that eliminates exposed screw heads and air vents, the MLC-AL/MLC-KL Series can be easily and quickly cleaned using all common disinfectants and cleaning agents. The MLC-AL/MLC-KL comes in two display sizes, 13.3" and 15.6".
• Medically certified panel computer
• 13.3" or 15.6" Full HD display
• Intel Atom x5-E3930 or Intel i3-dual core processor
• PCAP multi-touch touchscreen
• Fully sealed aluminum housing and fanless design
• 360-degree anti-bacterial treatment
• Dust- and liquid-proof front unit
• Galvanically isolated network
• Serial port isolation
Panel PC Targets Diverse Healthcare Applications
The POC-624 from Advantech is a 24" medical-grade point-of-care terminal (POC) designed for diverse healthcare applications. Featuring an 8th gen Intel Core i5/i7-8665UE processor, POC-624 is a high-performance, ultra-thin terminal that enables improved operational efficiency in hospitals clinics and care homes. It is compliant with IEC 60601 safety standards for medical devices.
• 8th gen Intel processor and NVME SSD offer rapid computing
• 24" full HD display with PCAP multi-touch panel
• USB 3.1 Type C (display function), USB 3.1, and HDMI connectors
• Supports PCIe x4, mini PCIe and M.2 expansion modules
• Fanless design with IP54-rated protection for enhanced hygiene and sanitation
• Optional Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID and auto-focus 5M camera
• Optional hot swapping power system for mobile applications
23.8" Multi-Touch Panel PC for Contactless Uses
The 23.8" APC-2334 from Avalue Technology takes advantage of an Intel Kaby Lake platform to provide a balance of performance and features. It is designed for light industrial use as well as daily tasks in healthcare institutions. With ongoing efforts to maintain social distancing, and prevent frequent contact and large gatherings, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, interactive panel PCs have become the new service interface.
• 23.8" Full HD PCAP multi touch
• 7th-gen Intel Core Kaby Lake i5 processor
• 2x 260-pin SODIMM socket up to 32GB per slot
• LED reading light bar
• Optional barcode scanner
• Optional 5.0M auto-focus camera with cover
• IP65 front panel protection
15.6" Modular Panel PCs for Retail Systems
Axiomtek's ITC150WM-300S and ITC150WM-500L support Axiomtek’s SDM-based signage computer modules: SDM300S (Intel SDM-S) and SDM500L (Intel SDM-L), respectively. The swappable design makes the system maintenance easier in field replacement and upgrade. The units have a 15.6" full HD LCD display with 1920 × 1080 resolution, a 10-point projected capacity touchscreen, 300 nits of high brightness and LED backlights.
15.6" full HD TFT-LCD
• Aspect ratio: 16:9; brightness: 300 nits
• Slim bezel shape under 40mm thickness
• Projected capacity touch supported, 10-point touch
• Swappable CPU card design
• Supports Intel SDM CPU card
• Metal frame structure for various application
• Supports add-on modules and mounting kits (optional)
28.6" Bar-Type Panel PC Targets Passenger Signage
The MRD-286 from Ibase is an EN50155-compliant all-in-one 28.6" bar-type panel PC. It integrates an Intel Pentium processor N4200 or an Intel Atom x7-E3950 processor, powered by a 24VDC or 110VDC power input. Built with an ultra-wide TFT active-matrix LCD screen, the system can ideally serve as signage display delivering advertising and providing passengers with timely information.
• Intel Atom x7-E3950 / Pentium N4200 processor
• 2x DDR3L SO-DIMM, max 8GB, 1x default 4GB
• Sunlight readable 1000 nits bar-type panel
• Auto-dimming function
• IP65 front-panel waterproof protection
• Anti-scattering front side glass
Rugged Panel PC Serves Maritime Applications
Kontron's FlatClient MAR is a DNVGL- and IEC60945/IACS E10-compliant panel PC and can therefore be used in national and international shipping, marine engineering structures and offshore wind farms. The panel PC is designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions such as temperature fluctuations, strong vibrations and jets of water.
• EN 60945 and DNVGL compliant
• Scalable performance from Intel Atom to Intel Core i5
• Salt spray tested according to IEC 60068-2-52
• Six display sizes ranging from 10.1" to 21.5"
• Maximum resolution of 1920×1080
• Brightness of up to 500 cd/m²
FlatClient MAR datasheet
Industrial Panel PCs Boast Flexible Options
The 18.5" fanless panel PC IPPC 1880P from NEXCOM incorporates an industrial motherboard and is intended for versatile industrial applications. The panel PC has a touch screen LED backlight LCD panel with 1366×768 (HD) resolution. The front panel which adopts flush design and complies with IP66 standard makes it well suited for industrial applications.
• Metal housing with robust aluminum front zero bezel
• 10 points PCAP multi-touch with zero bezel flush front design
• Dual GbE/2nd DisplayPort/Dual USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
• 1x mini-PCIe sockets, 1x M.2,
• DDR3L 8GB/2.5" HDD bracket
• IP66 compliant front panel
• Mounting support: panel/wall/stand/VESA 100mm × 100mm
• DC power input 24VDC
IPPC 1880P datasheet
Arm-Based Panel PC Serves Up iMX6 Processor
Powered by the NXP i.MX6 Cortex-A9 Arm CPU, Technologic Systems’ TS‑TPC-7990 Touch Panel Computer (TPC) features a 7" capacitive or resistive touch display, high performance CPU subsystem, wide variety of connectivity options and multimedia capabilities. The TS-TPC-7990 is well suited for applications that require a touch-based HMI, including: industrial automation, medical, automotive, self-service kiosks and retail point-of-sale terminals.
• HMI solution featuring capacitive or resistive touch high brightness LCDs
• Processor: NXP’s 1GHz i.MX6 Arm CPU
• Wireless connectivity for remote access and IoT applications
• Storage: on board eMMC, mSATA drive support, microSD card
• High speed industry standard connectors like Gigabit Ethernet and Mini-PCIe
• 2x USB host, 1x USB, 1x Bluetooth, 1x Wi-Fi, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
TS‑TPC-7990 TPC datasheet
Industrial Panel PC Has PC/104-Plus Expansion
The PPC3-6.5-407 from WINSYSTEMS embeds the E3800 family of Atom processors from Intel to provide low power and high performance in a compact 6.5" Panel PC. Designed for harsh environments and reliability, the design includes a sunlight-readable display and soldered RAM for added shock and vibration resistance with operating temperature ranges available from -10°C to +70°C.
• Compact LCD Panel
• 6.5" TN LCD panel
• Brightness up to 700 nits (cd/m2)
• Intel Atom E3800 PC/104-Plus processor
• Up to 4GB soldered down DDR3L RAM
• -10°C to +70°C operating temperature
• PC/104-Plus (PC/104 and PCI-104) expansion
• MiniPCIe/mSATA sockets
Jeff served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxGizmos.com and its sister publication, Circuit Cellar magazine 6/2017—3/2022. In nearly three decades of covering the embedded electronics and computing industry, Jeff has also held senior editorial positions at EE Times, Computer Design, Electronic Design, Embedded Systems Development, and COTS Journal. His knowledge spans a broad range of electronics and computing topics, including CPUs, MCUs, memory, storage, graphics, power supplies, software development, and real-time OSes.