Selecting an Enterprise Embedded Platform – Hardware Considerations

When it comes to determining a new enterprise embedded platform to control the functionality of an off-highway vehicle, there are many considerations that need to be contemplated.  This blog article, along with future blog articles, will highlight some of the key considerations.

For the purposes of this blog series, an enterprise embedded platform is defined as the controller(s) with a common software “operating system” that the application code can be developed upon.

Let’s first consider the hardware portion of the enterprise embedded platform.  The hardware will consist of a controller, or family of controllers, that will control and monitor the vehicle systems.  While developing the hardware requirements based upon the use cases of the hardware platform, these factors need to be considered:

  • Off-the-shelf or custom
  • Controller size – physical size along with mounting locations
  • Harnessing
  • Capability
    • I/O count
    • Power handling including drivers’ current capacity
    • ADC inputs and resolution
    • Communications
      • CAN, including number of busses
      • LIN
      • Ethernet (EtherCAT or high-speed CAN)
    • CPU performance
      • Clock speed
      • Multi-core
      • RAM – amount and type
      • ROM amount
      • Off-processor memory and type
  • Environmental
    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Dust/moisture
    • Vibration
    • Weight
  • Shielding/EMI
  • Maintenance/product support
    • Cost to replace
    • Expected product life – including how long will the controller be produced and how long will the technology be relevant
    • Durability
    • Quality
  • Cost

One consideration can impact another – there are tradeoffs.  For example, utilizing an off-the-shelf controller may not be manufactured over the expected life of the vehicle and the support provided.  Utilizing a small controller may limit the RAM and ROM available.  Utilizing a large controller may require larger bundles of harnessing given the larger expected I/O count.

This outline is not all encompassing of the considerations that need to be thought through.  Other considerations will be required as answers to this list of considerations are developed. Our team of experts has experience working with clients as they navigate the process to select a new enterprise hardware platform.  Our next article will discuss the key software considerations to select the right embedded platform for your enterprise.

This content was developed with support from the following members of our DISTek team of experts:  Shane Murphy (Senior Software Engineer & DISTekian since 1995), Bryan Guthrie (Senior Staff Engineer & DISTekian since 1999), and Robert Larsen (Software Engineer & DISTekian since 2015).