Computer on Module (COM) is a highly integrated component SBCs that support system expansion and application-specific customization. The CPU module delivers the core functionality while all of the application-specific features are designed into the baseboard creating a semi-custom embedded pc solution. Today’s COM modules are complete embedded computers built on a single circuit board. The design is centered on a microprocessor with RAM, input/output controllers and all other features needed to be a functional computer on the one board. However, unlike a single-board computer, the COM will usually lack the standard connectors for any input/output peripherals to be attached directly to the board.
The module will usually need to be mounted on a carrier board which breaks the bus out to standard peripheral connectors. Some COMs also include peripheral connectors and/or can be used without a carrier. A COM solution offers a dense package computer system for use in small or specialized applications requiring low power consumption or small physical size as is needed in embedded systems. As a COM is very compact and highly integrated, even complex CPUs, including multi-core technology, can be realized on a COM.
Using a carrier board is a benefit in many cases, as it can implement special I/O interfaces, memory devices, connectors or form factors. Separating the design of the carrier board and COM makes design concepts more modular, if needed. A carrier tailored to a special application may involve high design overhead by itself. If the actual processor and main I/O controllers are located on a COM, it is much easier, for example, to upgrade a CPU component to the next generation, without having to redesign a very specialized carrier as well. This can save costs and shorten development times. On the other hand, this only works if the board-to-board connection between the COM and its carrier remains compatible between upgrades.