Delay in PCI Express standards may be hurting growth in PC/104 embedded computing market

NATICK, Mass., 1 Feb. 2009. The value of PC/104 embedded computer boards may be lower than expected because of a delay in the release of a PCI Express standard as a module-to-module interconnect, say analysts at market researcher VDC Research Group in Natick, Mass.

This delay may have slowed PC/104 growth in high-end applications over the past two years, VDC analysts speculate. The market for PC/104 family boards was $248.4 million in 2007, which was 5.7 percent lower than had been projected in VDC's most prior PC/104 study, published in 2006.

The PC/104 market had been projected to be $262.7 million in 2008, and should grow to $281.5 million this year, VDC analysts say.

Ultimately, the PC/104 Consortium issues a set of specifications generically called PCI/104-Express (including PCI/104-Express and PCIe/104), while a body, SFF-SIG, issued a somewhat different standard called Express104.

The PC/104 family comprises several relatively small, fragmented niche markets, VDC experts say. The architecture is often used in specialized applications where customization, quality, and satisfying the application requirements are paramount, even more important than price.

Of the established PC/104 family architectures, PC/104-Plus shows the highest projected growth, replacing traditional PC/104. Both suppliers and users recognize the inadequacies of the old ISA bus, and are moving toward the faster PCI bus.

Still, many prefer to retain the ISA bus as well because of its backward compatibility with legacy expansion modules. For this reason projected growth of PCI-104 is substantially lower than that of PC/104-Plus.

The PC/104 Express category (including PCI/104-Express, PCIe/104, and Express104) is projected to show a high growth rate. However, it is pointed out that base year 2007 shipments of these were small (about $0.4 million). Thus, even a modest actual increase in revenue may result in a significant rate of growth.

For more information contact VDC Research online at www.vdcresearch.com.

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