In which fields Mini-PCs can be found?

Computers in general are mostly associated with the pure office routine. But only few know that Mini-PCs are mostly used in other fields. In the following text we want to give a little insight where, amongst others, the Mini-PCs of spo-comm can be found.

Digital Signage

Digital Signage (or just: DS) describes the playback of media content on screens, signs, steles and more. Probably one of the best examples for digital advertising is the Times Square in New York. With Digital Signage Players not only the size but also the performance is very important. The solutions are usually installed within displays. They often have to perform 4k content or have to be able to control multiple screens.

Machine control

Whether milling machines, weighbridges at the recycling center or automated storage systems. In the industry most machines are connected to Mini-PCs, either in order to receive information for further processing, or in order to deliver data for analyzing the information. Due to the often quite harsh working environments (like dust, sawdust, moist air our outdoor installations in general) passively cooled industrial PCs are a reliable and important partner.

Music-Player

No matter where you go shopping today – supermarkets, car dealerships or clothing shops – everywhere you will be able to hear appropriate and pleasant-sounding music in the background. In these cases, you might have already guessed it, Mini-PCs are the basis for playing the songs you’re listening to. The durability, energy efficiency and also the compact design of the PC systems are the main reasons to use them in this field. One textbook example for such a system is the spo-book WINDBOX II Quad (fanless).

Kiosk systems

At the airport, railway station, at the bank or at exhibitions -  everyday we encounter kiosk systems., We use them in order to get information or we work with them. Even if you rather have the feeling of working with a display than with a computer (mostly you will find kiosk systems with touch displays), you are actually working with a Mini-PC hidden under the screen. The solutions of spo-comm not only provide the appropriate software in order to please its user but also need to be able to stand the poor heat loss conditions inside the kiosk system and also to cool down to moderate operating temperatures.

Vehicle Computing

As the name already suggests, vehicle computing refers to the use of Mini-PCs in vehicles of all kind. Among other things Mini-PCs are used in ambulances, police cars, ships and also public transports. All these examples are equipped with control units which are in turn dependent on the small Vehicle-PC systems.

Retail

On the one hand we encounter Mini-PCs in supermarkets in the field of Digital Signage (as mentioned in the text above). On the other hand they can also be found at the checkouts. Scanners and monitors, just to mention a few examples, are connected to the, mostly passively cooled, Embedded-PCs to form the usual working environment.

Logistics and production

Especially in the field of warehousing and production Mini-PCs fulfill its purpose in several places. As already mentioned above, machine control and the processing of information are two of their purposes, but also diagnosis of errors, for instance, on the assembly line. Since it may happen that an assembly line is no longer running because it is jammed somewhere and prevents the line from moving. The Mini-PC can then ensure that the appropriate software can do its job, display the error and maybe also eliminate it in the same turn. You can find one possible solution for logistics in our reference hama and spo-comm - Logistics made easy.

Office routine

Nevertheless Mini-PCs did not leave their original purpose behind them. Even in offices more and more Mini-PCs are used. They are not only saving a lot of space but also provide a high performance and are a lot more energy efficient than usual desktop PCs. In addition: Passively cooled solutions also contribute to a quiet and pleasant atmosphere. Due to its technical specifications the spo-book WINDBOX III Advanced is a popular solution for the office.

More on this topic

29 Nov 2016 Array ( [id] => 224 [title] => What exactly is a CPU? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => The fact, that the CPU is the processor of a computer or Mini-PC is most probably well known. But what tasks does it actually have and what is hidden behind the terms clock frequency, bus system and multi-threading? [description] =>

CPU stands for “central processing unit“ and describes the processor of a computer. The “central” in CPU is not by chance since it can be seen as the heart of a computer. In addition to specific labels, the clock rate tells us how fast a processor is able to perform operations.

Tasks of the processor

On the whole a CPU assumes three essential tasks:

Arithmetical unit

All data on a computer consist of numbers. To be more precise: Of zeros and ones. A CPU accepts commands, calculates the appropriate amount of data and as a result gives out a new binary code. The higher the clock frequency of a CPU, the more digits can be processed simultaneously in an arithmetic operation. Clock frequency, which also can be described as a rhythm, is expressed in hertz. One Hz means one cycle per second. This means for a so-called single-core processor, that at one gigahertz (in short: GHz) approximately 1,000,000,000 digits can be processed at the same time.

Control unit

A control unit is together with the arithmetical unit a main component of a processor. In addition to the processing input and output peripherals (such as printers, scanners, mice, keyboards, …) the control unit ensures that the single components of a processor can work together appropriately and also coordinates them. The control unit and the other components of a CPU are connected over the so-called bus system.

Bus system

The bus system is a kind of bridge between the individual components of a computer and provides for the exchange of data between them.

Note: The more hertz a CPU got, the faster is the computing speed of a processor (of the same processor family). But is the clock frequency the only reason for the speed of a CPU? If today only the above mentioned single-core processors were still in use, we could answer the question quite easily with a “yes”. However, since two-core, four-core, six-core, eight-core and even ten-core processor are used in the field of desktops (as of 2016), the strength of a CPU also depends on the number of cores.

This brings us to the next subject:

Multi-core processors

As mentioned earlier CPUs have been made faster by increasing the number of clock rates. We remember: A single-core processor with one GHz is able to calculate 1,000,000,000 digits per second. Thus with two GHz it would be 2,000,000,000 digits per second.

However, the mere increase of the clock frequency implicates that enormous temperature rises will occur in the processor. This already happens at a power of 3,00 GHz. The reason behind this is that a higher clock rate can only be achieved by increasing the voltage. The resulting resistance in the thin leads produces heat. This is not only extremely inefficient but also damages the CPU without sufficient cooling. For this reason developers came up with the idea of installing several cores on one CPU. Today we are familiar with dual-core, quad-core, hexa-core, octa-core and also deca-cores processors.

A particularly great advantage of the so called multi-core processors is that the individual cores are able to assume tasks parallel to the other cores. Modern software, for instance, automatically stores operations on the individual cores of a processor in order to achieve an even utilization. If a core is fully utilized, the open tasks will automatically be transferred to a core with free capacities.

A further advantage is the low power consumption of the multi-core processors. Thus, a dual-core processor consumes only half as much energy compared to a single-core processor. The reason for this is that a dual-core processor with an equal performance as a single-core CPU requires a lower clock frequency due to a lower voltage. Ergo: Less power consumption.

Multi-Threading

Multi-threading is the ability of a single processor core to perform multiple tasks at the same time. Thus, multi-threading strongly resembles the appearance of a multi-core processor. In other words this means: If a quad-core processor is equipped with two threads per core, the system recognizes a total of eight virtual cores and no longer just four real cores. The advantage here is clearly obvious.

Conclusion

Single-core processors have lost a lot of importance in the fields of desktop computers and mobile areas and already have been banished by most sales shelves. This is also because extensive software in the user area requires at least two processor cores. This leads us to the question, what progress and how many cores the future will bring with it. Let’s wait and see!

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know-how

What exactly is a CPU?

The fact, that the CPU is the processor of a computer or Mini-PC is most probably well known. But what tasks does it actually have and what is hidden behind the terms clock frequency, bus system and multi-threading?
9 Dec 2016 Array ( [id] => 228 [title] => What’s new? VR for industry and special features of vehicle PCs [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => At the end of the year we are talking about a topic that is on everyone’s lips: Virtual reality, which is also important for industry 4.0. Furthermore we look at two special features of our vehicle PCs. [description] =>

Virtual Reality: Also for industry 4.0

For applications in the industrial environment, applications from the areas of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are increasingly being developed. In industry 4.0 numerous applications are possible: In addition to the training of employees, customers and business partners (e.g. flight simulators, operating rooms, but also hard-to-reach places such as power plants), VR is also interesting for design, development and presentation. In virtual reality, products, assemblies, systems and processes can be simulated and are interactively accessible. Currently, however, there is still a lack of decent hardware, since VR applications place high demands on the processor and graphics performance of a Mini-PC.

Integrated battery: More reliability

The vehicle PCs of the MOVE series from spo-comm can all be ordered with an optional battery pack. If, for instance, the power fails or the ignition in the car unexpectedly breaks down, the PC runs operated by battery and shuts down automatically, if it doesn’t get power again. Among other things, this is interesting in the measurement technology, as data can still be saved. In addition, a hard shutdown isn’t good for PCs, since the operating system can be damaged sooner or later.

Not just for border crossers: Two mobile networks

Our new models of the MOVE series each have two SIM card slots and therefore it is possible to rely on two mobile networks (3G or 4G). The advantages are obvious: On the one hand two simultaneous connections can be established, which increases the speed of data transfer. On the other hand, by using two different networks, a larger coverage can be achieved, in order not to suddenly get into a dead zone during transport. This is also interesting for vehicles traveling in the border area. Here it is possible to use the appropriate network for each country.

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know-how

What’s new? VR for industry and special features of vehicle PCs

At the end of the year we are talking about a topic that is on everyone’s lips: Virtual reality, which is also important for industry 4.0. Furthermore we look at two special features of our vehicle PCs.
17 Feb 2017 Array ( [id] => 238 [title] => What is the difference between Full HD, UHD and 4K? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => While talking about digital signage players, the terms Full HD, UHD and 4K are often of interest. In this article we explain which resolutions those different terms describe and what 4K@60Hz actually means. [description] =>

Terms like full HD and 4K refer to the image resolution. The resolution is indicated by the number of pixels, either as the total number or with the number of pixel columns (width) and the number of pixel rows (height), for instance 1920 x 1080 pixel. The advantage of the second variant is that you can directly see the aspect ratio.

Another format is the so called HDTV standard where the number of rows and the process of image buildup are mentioned. The former is the vertical image resolution in pixels, the latter is specified in “p” or “i”. This results for example in the term 1080p. “P” stands for progressive and means that all the lines of a frame are drawn in sequence, while “i” is the abbreviation for “interlaced” which means that an image is formed from two different half images. First the odd and then the even rows are constructed. This form, however, is declining since for instance UHD-TV only provides the recording and playback of progressive images.

But let us now come to the different resolutions:

SD: The old standard

Let’s start small: The term SD (standard definition) or SDTV (standard definition television) describes an image resolution of 720 x 576 pixels which corresponds to a 16 : 9 aspect ratio. This resolution was already used for analog TV reception and can still be found on DVDs.

Full HD

Full HD is the abbreviation for Full High Definition. It describes a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (a total of 2.073.600 pixels). The aspect ratio is also 4 : 3. The term describes the ability to output (via TV, PCs, flat screens, DVD player etc.) or record (via video cameras etc.) full HD resolution.

In addition to full HD, there is also HD ready which means a lower resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. This is, for instance, the resolution that is broadcasted by German public TV broadcasters (such as ARD and ZDF) and then reproduced on HD capable TVs.

UHD and 4K

Let us now talk about what is currently on everyone’s lips: 4K. Despite the growing market for 4K television there is still only a small amount of content for the private sector so far. In contrast, UHD and 4K are already a big talking point in professional digital signage.

UHD stands for Ultra High Definition and describes a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is exactly for times full HD resolution. The pixel rows are doubled from 1080 to 2160 and the columns from 1920 to 3840, whereby the total number of pixels is quadrupled to approximately 8 million. The aspect ratio is still 16 : 9.

The term 4K originates from the digital cinema and actually describes a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (that’s why it is sometimes called 4K2K). The aspect ratio of 4K is 17 : 9. Normally a ratio of 21 : 9 is used, which is achieved by cutting of pixels.

However it has been accepted that the terms 4K and UHD are used synonymously, so that 4K usually describes the resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels.

A glimpse into the future: 8K

If 4K does not seem sharp enough already it gets even sharper: 8K describes a fabulous resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels. In terms of length and width there is the fourfold number of pixels of full HD, which is twice the number compared to UHD. The aspect ratio is again 16 : 9. In Japan, where the television stations NHK was one of the first to experiment with this format, 8K is also called Super Hi-Vision. In fact, 8K is, however, a pie in the sky. TVs with this resolution are not only relatively large but also quite expensive – the prices are still in the six-digit range. In addition there is hardly any content in 8K-format out yet.

Hertz or frames per second

So far we have only talked about the image resolution. But within the digital signage sector, the video resolution is also of interest. The video resolution is composed of image resolution and frame rate (also called picture frequency). The frame rate is usually expressed in hertz (Hz). It describes the number of frames that can be rendered in one second. For instance, with a picture frequency of 24 Hz, 24 frames per second are written onto a monitor or projected onto a cinema screen. That’s why instead of hertz the term fps (frames per second) is often used as well.

While talking about 4K, one often distinguishes whether the resolution can be displayed at 60 or only at 30 Hz frame rate. This is on the one hand dependent on the chipset of the PC, on the other hand the connectors are also critical. Since for a 4K@60Hz setup the interfaces DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 are absolutely necessary.

4K@60Hz at spo-comm

In the range of spo-comm there are also Mini-PCs, which can output a video resolution of 4K@60Hz. This includes our ultra-compact spo-book CORE, the digital signage players spo-book TURO Q87 and spo-book ELIX H81 as well as our brand new spo-book KUMO IV, which can display even four times 4K@60Hz or alternatively 8K@60Hz once. The spo-book EXPANDED Q170 and the spo-book NINETEEN Q170, when equipped with a corresponding graphics card, are also 4K-capable.

##Explore 4K Mini-PCs from spo-comm!

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know-how

What is the difference between Full HD, UHD and 4K?

While talking about digital signage players, the terms Full HD, UHD and 4K are often of interest. In this article we explain which resolutions those different terms describe and what 4K@60Hz actually means.