The most exciting thing for us as a technology company is seeing how our partners are pushing the limits of what’s possible with our hardware. As you’re out there creating innovative solutions to problems, we’re also hard at work developing the tools to help you make it possible.
The use cases for edge PCs vary dramatically, as do the requirements. Operating temperature, power handling, peripheral support, and connectivity are critical features that determine how an embedded computer fits into the equation and inform which one is the best fit.
Technology should elevate and support your application, not get in the way. This is why we built our latest rugged edge PC, Karbon 300, with a custom micro control unit (MCU) to enable the level of customization and functionality required by today’s IoT applications, while remaining easy to use.
What is a Micro Control Unit (MCU)?
A micro control unit is a small chip on the motherboard that serves as a mini command center for the system and enables customizable behavior through a programming interface. The MCU acts as a bridge between low-level hardware interfaces and high-level software, which makes it possible to interface and exchange data over DIO and CAN from within the operating system. It also handles automotive subsystems, such as low battery voltage monitoring, ignition detection, and power on/off delays.
Why is the MCU Important?
Not all deployments are built the same. While commonalities exist across applications, the need for customization below the surface level is something we’ve heard from users time and time again.
The benefit of building Karbon 300 with an MCU at its core is greater control over the system’s functionality to allow more granular control in customizing system behavior to your needs, particularly for environments that are hostile to technology.
The Karbon 300 MCU allows us to enable features like CAN auto-baud rate detection, wake from digital input events, and programmable user configurations from the outset. It’s a flexible tool that can be used to address very specific (and sometimes esoteric) application challenges to create more efficient and integrated solutions while allowing us (and you) to respond to project needs quickly.
For example, you might have a vehicle-based application requiring precise timing of computer startup, shutdown, and hard shutdown behavior. With an MCU, you have control down to the second without the need for an external regulator. This level of control makes integration and deployment faster and easier, with the MCU serving as a customizable bridge between the needs of your project and the computer itself.
What Can You Do With an MCU?
Part of the customizability enabled with a micro control unit comes from Digital Input/Output, or DIO. One of the simplest ways to transfer data, DIO consists of a set of pins that can be either high or low. Some pins are inputs read by the host system to get information externally while others are outputs set by the MCU to send information to external systems.
DIO offers complete control of Karbon 300’s functionality with a simple software interface to make adjustments. Pairing DIO with a micro control unit and in-house firmware allows us to offer more unique features such as ‘wake on DIO’ that cause the system to power on when a DIO event is detected to prevent data events from being missed.
A simple and reliable system, DIO adds additional flexibility to our Karbon 300 system and provides an opportunity to get creative when working with partners to help solve their specific application challenges.
Getting Started With MCU-enabled Systems
Our aim with Karbon 300 was to create a compact rugged system that could adapt to any situation and environment. With industry-leading ruggedization and customizable micro control unit, we’re excited to see what challenges innovators will use it to solve.