New Research from Newark Shows Demand for Low-Cost SBCs in Industrial and IoT Applications

By Taryn Engmark

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

September 01, 2021


New Research from Newark Shows Demand for Low-Cost SBCs in Industrial and IoT Applications

A global survey reveals low-cost SBCs are being used in all stages of product development and production, from proof of concept and prototyping through to production and test equipment.

New research from Newark reveals that low-cost Single Board Computers (SBCs) are now a valuable building block in all stages of new product development and production. Some 50% of professional engineers surveyed use SBCs for industrial and Internet of Things (IoT), the most popular SBC applications.

Raspberry Pi is the most popular board with 44% of professional users preferring it to other SBCs. Arduino was ranked second (28%), with Beagleboard in third place (6%). These market-leading SBCs simplify new product development and reduce time to market, allowing Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to respond to market trends quckly. The survey also indicates that Raspberry Pi users are most loyal and less likely to use another SBC than engineers who preferred a different product. 

SBCs are used in all stages of product development and production with 23% of respondents using SBCs for proof of concept and 35% for prototyping. Twenty two percent use low-cost SBCs in production units, with around 20% of these products produced in volumes of 5K or more per year and 20% used for developing test equipment and testing. 

The global survey ran from March to May 2021 and received nearly 1,500 responses from professional engineers, designers, and makers working on SBC solutions. Three fourths of the respondents were professional users and only a quarter were hobbyists or makers. The questions were designed to understand how popular SBCs from some of the world’s leading manufacturers are being used within professional products and projects. 

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Use of Raspberry Pi and Arduino have a similar market share for makers, which suggests that engineers like to use a board they are familiar with from home projects at work. 
  • About 24% of professionals build their own boards for use with the SBC, demonstrating the benefits of a standard compute platform with custom IO/interface electronics in many applications.
  • Reducing time to market is a key objective for professionals, with ease of use and familiarity as top priorities.
  • Only 20% of engineers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in their SBC applications.
  • High performance AI and more memory were the most common requests for improvements to SBCs.
  • Touchscreens are the most popular accessory, but cameras and kits for enhancing power supply via battery or solar panels are also in demand.
  • Professional users are much more likely to have customized boards than makers. 

Newark gives customers access to products for professional use with a range of core SBC platforms and toolkits from brands including Raspberry Pi, Arduino (Portenta H7), Intel (NUC range), Industrial Shields, and others. Customers also have access to 24/5 technical support alongside free access to online resources on the Newark website, and engineering and maker community, element14.

For more information, visit Newark in North America, Farnell in EMEA, and element14 in APAC.