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With the selection of an embedded computer product, it is important to examine the fit between the customer's and the supplier's business models, including such criteria as financial stability, manufacturing process control, manufacturing capacity to meet demand, product quality and reliability, and reputation for on-time delivery and quality of service and support. Selecting appropriate products requires the selection of appropriate vendors who will honor longterm availability commitments and agree to adapt, customize and upgrade their products to meet the needs of the OEM.

Medical ultrasound machine.
In some cases, an off-the-shelf COTS solution may not meet OEM requirements for performance and ruggedization. In these cases the OEM may want to select a COTS vendor who has expertise at customization of their off-the-shelf products, such as application of conformal coating for humidity robustness or installation of custom I/O connectors. Such a customized COTS product can provide substantial cost savings to the OEM versus a fully custom solution.

In order to deploy COTS products in an application that expects harsh environments, the areas that should be considered by the OEM include: proper selection of products, temperature and environmental stress screening, suitable thermal management practices, and overall fit and comfort with the SBC vendor's processes and business practices. Clearly COTS products are not the answer for every system deployed in harsh environments. However, the SBC technologies discussed offer open standards supported by multiple vendors and in many instances are designed to provide lowcost, high-performance alternatives to fully custom-designed products for deployment in harsh environments.

This article was written by Jeremy Green, Quality Manager, VersaLogic Corporation (Eugene, OR). For more information, contact Mr. Green at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click here.