Monthly Archives: February 2024

February 29, 2024

PICMG Announces Release of New InterEdge Standard for Open, Modular Process Control Systems



  • Modular compute, switch, and I/O architecture enables interoperable standard for industrial PCs, PLCs, and distributed control systems.
  • Supports IEC 61499 and IEC 61131 for compatibility with a wide range of automation systems.
  • Hot-swappable modules can be replaced or upgraded while the system is running, minimizing downtime and maintenance costs.


FEBRUARY 2024 ­­– WAKEFIELD, MA. PICMG, the consortium for open hardware specifications, today announced the release of InterEdge, a modular architecture for process control systems (PCS). The IEC 61499 and IEC 61131-compatible InterEdge specification promises to revolutionize the industry with an interoperable, multi-vendor alternative to proprietary Industrial PCs (IPCs), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and Distributed Control Systems (DCSs).

“Business needs evolve at an ever-increasing rate,” said Francisco Garcia, Americas Regional Instrument Lead at ExxonMobil Technology & Engineering Company and member of the InterEdge technical working group. “InterEdge delivers an interchangeable base hardware standard for industrial manufacturers looking to adapt to changing business needs. As a result, providers can deploy and scale dedicated physical assets and focus on value-added software and services.”

A Shared Standard for the Process Industry

InterEdge defines a vendor-neutral, open standard for edge computing and I/O module hardware. It segments hardware into Compute Modules, Switch Modules, and I/O Modules. All of these modules are connected via a common backplane, enabling easy customization and expansion of industrial automation functions.

An overview of the specification and an architecture diagram are available at InterEdge 0 R1 supports both single- and multi-channel I/O implementations and a forthcoming specification will be optimized for single-channel I/O.

The full specification is available to purchase. Interested parties are encouraged to participate in ongoing specification development efforts by joining the PICMG InterEdge working group by emailing [email protected].

With its modular approach, InterEdge can flexibly incorporate the functions of disparate automation systems into a single platform. This common platform can be deployed across automation, chemical refining, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, metals and mining, pulp and paper, food and beverage, and a wide range of other process industries.

Upgradability that Breaks Free from Hardware Lock-In
By replacing proprietary edge devices, InterEdge eliminates vendor lock-in, simplifies integration and maintenance, and enables online upgrades, all of which contribute to significant cost savings.

In the past, edge components remained in place for decades with static functional capabilities due to the difficulties of upgrades. In contrast, the hot-swappable interoperability of InterEdge allows industrial organizations to quickly adapt to changing market demands and technological advancements. Now manufacturers can improve their competitive position through emerging trends in AI, Industrial IoT, and Industry 4.0.

“InterEdge allows industrial manufacturers to transition from proprietary hardware to an open architecture where they can choose fit-for-purpose components, replace obsolete hardware, add computational resources, and upgrade hardware security in a running plant at virtually zero switching costs,” said Matt Burns, global director of technical marketing at Samtec and chair of the InterEdge Technical Working Group.

“InterEdge does for industrial control systems what the Open Compute Project did for data centers,” Burns added.

Strong Support from Industry Leaders
InterEdge originated as part of the O-PAS™ (Open Process Automation) Standard from The Open Group® Open Process Automation™ Forum (OPAF), a consortium of 110+ leaders in process automation including system suppliers, engineering firms, governmental bodies, research institutions, and end customers.

With its new home in PICMG, InterEdge joins a growing family of multi-vendor hardware standards with a decades-long track record of success. PICMG and OPAF have committed to working together to push for the same widespread adoption of InterEdge.

“PICMG felt it was critical to release this because it lays the groundwork for subsequent iterations of the InterEdge specification that will address the broadest range of industry use cases possible,” says Jessica Isquith, president of PICMG. “We are eager to support the continued progress of InterEdge and its ability to revolutionize industrial edge environments.”

Learn More

Details of the InterEdge specification are available on the PICMG website. Solutions from participating hardware vendors are expected to be available in the coming months.

For more information on InterEdge, visit:
· InterEdge Specification Overview:
· License the InterEdge Specification:

February 29, 2024

PICMG ModBlox7 Specification Standardizes Box PCs for Scalable, Interoperable Rugged Edge Computing

Industry NewsModBlox7NewsOpen Standards

  • CPU, Power Supply, and I/O units can be configured as redundant or non-redundant systems in transportation, automation, avionics, defense, and other markets
  • 1.4” horizontal pitch (7 HP) per unit supports mounting on walls, DIN rails or side-by-side in a 19” sub-rack
  • Modular, scalable architecture removes backplane for configurable, cost-effective low-, medium-, and high-volume production runs

WAKEFIELD, MA. PICMG, a leading consortium for the development of open embedded computing specifications, has ratified the ModBlox7 base specification. The first-of-its-kind specification addresses industry’s need for modular and interoperable embedded box PCs by defining a flexible mechanical architecture and “units” that fit a 1.4-inch horizontal pitch (7 HP) form factor.

The ModBlox7 architecture removes expensive components like backplanes and shelf controllers to enable the creation of price-competitive systems even at low volumes. Up to 12 of the 7 HP units can be interconnected and mounted on walls, DIN rails, or inserted in a 19” sub-rack.

“With ModBlox7, we combine the advantages of modular standards like CompactPCI and CompactPCI Serial with the demands we see from box PC customers like cost sensitivity, small form factor, and low weight,” explains Mathias Beer, CEO of Ci4Rail GmbH and member of the PICMG ModBlox7 working group. “By combining all of this in a PICMG specification, ModBlox7 addresses the design requirements of our clients and avoids vendor lock in.”

The Building Block Architecture of ModBlox7

A typical ModBlox7 system consists of Power Units, Processing Units, and PCIe or USB 2.0/3.0 Input and Output Units (IOUs), each of which measures 1.4” or 7 HP wide. Units can also be extended in 7HP increments to 14 HP, 21 HP, and so on and remain compatible with the specification.

Power Unit blocks convert external supply voltage into a 12V internal voltage and connect to Processing Units via terminal wire-to-board or board-to-board connectors. Processing Units support an overall thermal design power (TDP) of up to 150W and interface with IOUs over high-speed board-to-board connectors.

While a minimum ModBlox7 system consists of just one Processing Unit and one Power Unit, they can support as many as four PCI Express-based or eight USB-based IOUs. For high-availability or safety applications, ModBlox7 systems can also be configured with redundant Processing Units or Power Units. The maximum number of slots supported in any ModBlox7 is 12.

The ModBlox7 standard defines a direct board-to-board interconnect in a box format to realize cost-effective system solutions,” says Bernd Kleeberg, CEO and Head of Sales at EKF Elektronik GmbH and chair of the PICMG ModBlox7 working group. “Thanks to native support for redundancy, ModBlox7 is also recommended for high-availability solutions.”

Getting Started with ModBlox7

ModBlox7 is designed for edge computing, data acquisition, communication, and control use cases in transportation, automation, avionics, defense, medical, agriculture, and other demanding markets. A multi-vendor supplier ecosystem helps control cost and ensures product availability over the long lifecycles of deployments in these domains.

Members of the PICMG ModBlox7 subcommittee include Ci4Rail GmbH, EKF Elektronik GmbH, ELTEC Elektronik AG, Elma Electronic, Embeck Co., Ltd., ept GmbH, HEITEC AG, Hirose Electric Europe B.V., nVent/Schroff GmbH, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG, Samtec, Inc., Sealevel Systems, Inc., UBER Co. Ltd., FASTWEL Group Co. Ltd, and Tews Technologies GmbH.

Products based on the ModBlox7 base specification are available now. The specification is also available for purchase and download at

For more information on ModBlox7, visit:

Founded in 1994, PICMG is a not-for-profit 501(c) consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high performance industrial, Industrial IoT, military & aerospace, telecommunications, test & measurement, medical, and general-purpose embedded computing applications. There are more than 140 member companies that specialize in a wide range of technical disciplines, including mechanical and thermal design, single board computer design, high-speed signaling design and analysis, networking expertise, backplane, and packaging design, power management, high availability software and comprehensive system management.

Key standards families developed by PICMG include COM-HPC, COM Express, CompactPCI, AdvancedTCA, MicroTCA, AdvancedMC, CompactPCI Serial, InterEdge, ModBlox7, SHB Express, MicroSAM, and HPM (Hardware Platform Management). For more information, visit

February 29, 2024

Decades of Contribution, Immeasurable Impact

COM ExpressCOM-HPCJess IsquithKontronPICMG

This year PICMG celebrates thirty years of developing open computing specifications. And despite three decades of open hardware specs that are used by thousands of companies and countless engineers worldwide, the organization is still largely an unknown—even in our own industry.

But from behind the scenes, PICMG is responsible for billions of dollars of business. It has reduced time to market in virtually every electronics-driven industry. It has empowered companies to innovate by adopting off-the-shelf technologies, giving them space to focus on their core competencies. It has built markets based on coopetition, where companies collaboratively develop open, interoperable specifications then go toe-to-toe once they are ratified.

Even less recognized are the individuals who donate hundreds if not thousands of hours to the creation of PICMG specifications. These engineers are rarely acknowledged for their contributions. They are truly unsung heroes, and PICMG specifications wouldn’t exist without them.

One of these unsung heroes is Stefan Milnor, who recently retired from his role as VP of Engineering at Kontron. In parallel, he stepped down as the long-time editor of COM Express and COM-HPC specifications. 

Stefan has been involved in PICMG since the beginnings of COM Express, which is undeniably the most successful computer-on-module in a billion-dollar COMs market. As editor, Stefan incorporated input from numerous technical subcommittees over the years and implemented it into specifications that have been adopted by thousands of organizations building embedded systems. It’s a difficult job that requires a rare mix of technical acumen and attention to detail, and his skill and efficiency will be missed by us all—including some who never knew he was the hand behind their downloaded spec.

Stefan has always been a very private individual. In fact, by the time we could reach out to him for comment he had already left. In some ways, it’s a fitting conclusion for someone who performed yeoman’s work for decades without reward. And although he probably isn’t reading this, his contributions to PICMG and the embedded computing industry deserve to be acknowledged.

Thank you, Stefan, for helping make PICMG what it is today: 30 years strong and counting.

— Jessica Isquith, President, PICMG

Admin Note: Contact Doug Sandy, PICMG CTO, at [email protected] to learn how you can get involved in PICMG’s technical working groups. Contact me, [email protected] if you are interested in joining PICMG or have any questions about our organization.