Application Forecasts and Market Shares

Why system-on-modules are gaining traction among engineers

19 December 2023
An Avnet employee works in a programming center in Arizona. Avnet is working to develop standardized system-on-modules to help engineers alleviate supply chain constraints. Source: Avnet

System-on-modules (SoMs) are gaining traction among OEMs as a strategy to better manage supply chain constraints.

While SoMs have long been used by engineers to accelerate time-to-market, this technology also eliminates the need for in-house chip-down designers. This leaves engineers only needing to worry about the carrier board, peripherals and connectors.

According to Avnet’s insight reports on the supply chain, as SoMs get smaller and electrical designs more complex, the interest in the technology is growing. “We’re getting more and more inquiries from OEMs who are looking to move from components to SoMs,” said Alex Wood, global senior marketing manager at Avnet.

Avnet is developing standardized SoMs based on the open-source Smart Mobility Architecture (SMARC), x86-based modules with the same basic power requirements and are exchangeable in the same footprint and pin-out. Avnet introduced SoMs with its SimpleSwitch development environment allowing engineers to swap both x86 and ARM-based SMARC modules without changing the code.

“When chip-down designers couldn’t get their hands on the parts they needed, they were up looking at a complete board redesign — even in the case of a replacement part within the same architecture,” Wood said. “That’s not the case with a SoM.”

One huge benefit, Avnet said, is the ability to source just one component with an SoM, instead of sourcing possibly hundreds of individual electronic components in a chip-down design. This particularly comes in handy as buyers of large volumes will get better access to overall parts and it is the SoM’s responsibility to source all the parts.

Learn more about Avnet’s findings with its supply chain hub.

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