Understanding System on Module (SOM)


System on Module (SOM) emerges as a versatile solution that streamlines the development process, enhances scalability, and accelerates time-to-market for embedded system designers. This comprehensive guide aims to delve into the intricacies of SOM, exploring its architecture, applications, benefits, and future prospects.

What is a System on Module (SOM)

A System on Module (SOM), also known as a Computer on Module (COM), is a compact, self-contained computing device that integrates essential components of a computer system onto a single board. These components typically include a processor (CPU), memory (RAM), storage (flash memory), and various interfaces (such as Ethernet, USB, HDMI, etc.).


Architecture of SOM

SOMs are characterized by their modular architecture, which separates the core computing elements from application-specific functionalities. The key components of a typical SOM architecture include

  1. Processor: The central processing unit (CPU) is the heart of the SOM, responsible for executing instructions and performing computations. SOMs may feature various processor architectures, including ARM, x86, or RISC-V, catering to diverse performance and power efficiency requirements.
  2. Memory: SOMs incorporate onboard random-access memory (RAM) to temporarily store data and execute programs. The memory capacity varies depending on the specific application needs, ranging from a few megabytes to several gigabytes.
  3. Storage: Embedded flash memory serves as persistent storage for the SOM, holding the operating system, applications, and user data. The storage capacity can range from a few gigabytes to several terabytes, depending on the application requirements.
  4. Interfaces: SOMs are equipped with a range of interfaces to facilitate communication with external devices and peripherals. Common interfaces include Ethernet, USB, HDMI, GPIO (General-Purpose Input/Output), SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface), I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit), and UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter).

Applications of SOM

System on Modules find applications across diverse industries and domains, owing to their flexibility, scalability, and performance capabilities. Some common applications of SOMs include

  1. Industrial Automation: SOMs power embedded systems in industrial automation applications, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and robotics, enabling precise control and monitoring of manufacturing processes.
  2. Automotive Electronics: SOMs play a crucial role in automotive electronics, powering infotainment systems, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), telematics units, and in-vehicle networking modules, enhancing safety, connectivity, and entertainment features in modern vehicles.
  3. IoT (Internet of Things): SOMs serve as the computational backbone for IoT devices and edge computing platforms, enabling sensor data processing, connectivity management, and real-time decision-making in smart homes, industrial IoT (IIoT), smart cities, and agricultural automation applications.

Benefits of SOM

The adoption of System on Modules offers several significant benefits for embedded system designers and manufacturers

  1. Faster Time-to-Market: SOMs accelerate product development cycles by providing pre-validated hardware and software components, reducing design complexity and minimizing development efforts.
  2. Scalability: SOMs facilitate scalability by allowing designers to upgrade or customize system configurations without redesigning the entire hardware platform, enabling cost-effective product iterations and future-proofing against technological advancements.
  3. Design Flexibility: SOMs offer design flexibility by decoupling the core computing module from the carrier board, allowing developers to focus on application-specific functionalities and customization while leveraging standardized interfaces and peripherals.
  4. Reduced Development Costs: By leveraging off-the-shelf SOMs and carrier boards, developers can significantly reduce development costs associated with hardware design, validation, and procurement, leading to lower upfront investments and improved return on investment (ROI).

Future Trends and Outlook

The evolution of System on Modules continues to be shaped by emerging technologies and market trends. Some notable future trends and developments include

  1. Enhanced Integration: Future SOMs are expected to integrate additional functionalities, such as AI accelerators, machine learning co-processors, and specialized sensor interfaces, to address the growing demand for intelligent and connected embedded systems.
  2. Edge Computing: With the proliferation of IoT devices and edge computing applications, SOMs will play a pivotal role in processing and analyzing data at the network edge, enabling real-time insights, low-latency responses, and improved privacy and security.
  3. 5G Connectivity: The deployment of 5G networks will drive the adoption of SOMs with integrated 5G modems and connectivity solutions, enabling high-speed wireless communication and unlocking new possibilities for connected devices and applications.


System on Modules (SOMs) represent a versatile and efficient solution for developing embedded systems across a wide range of applications and industries. By offering modular architecture, scalability, and design flexibility, SOMs empower developers to streamline the development process, reduce time-to-market, and meet the evolving demands of the digital era.

SOM from Calixto System

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