System on Module (SOM)

Understanding System on Module (SOM): Definition and Basic Architecture


In the ever-evolving landscape of embedded systems, System on Module (SOM) emerges as a key player, offering compactness, scalability, and flexibility. SOMs encapsulate the core components of a computing system into a single module, facilitating rapid development and deployment across various applications. This delves into the definition and basic architecture of SOMs, shedding light on their significance in modern computing.

Definition of System on Module (SOM)

A System on Module (SOM), also known as a Computer on Module (COM), is a compact, integrated computing platform that encapsulates essential components of a computer system into a single module. These components typically include the processor, memory, storage, and various interfaces necessary for connectivity and peripheral attachment.

System on Module (SOM)

Processor (CPU/GPU)

At the heart of every SOM lies the processor, which serves as the computational powerhouse. The processor can range from low-power ARM-based CPUs to high-performance x86 architectures, depending on the application requirements.

Memory (RAM/Storage)

Memory is another essential component of SOM architecture, encompassing Random Access Memory (RAM) for temporary data storage and storage modules (eMMC, SSD, etc.) for long-term data retention. The memory configuration varies based on the computational needs of the target application, with options for expansion and customization in certain SOM designs.

Interfaces and Connectivity

SOMs feature a plethora of interfaces and connectivity options to facilitate communication with external peripherals and devices. Common interfaces include USB, Ethernet, UART, SPI, I2C, HDMI, PCIe, and GPIO, among others. These interfaces enable seamless integration with sensors, displays, cameras, networking equipment, and other hardware components.

Power Management

Efficient power management is critical for SOMs, especially in battery-powered or energy-constrained applications. Power management units (PMUs) regulate voltage levels, manage power consumption, and ensure optimal energy utilization across the module. Advanced SOMs may incorporate features like dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) to adapt power delivery based on workload demands.

Operating System Support

SOMs are compatible with a wide range of operating systems (OS), including Linux, Android, Windows Embedded, and real-time operating systems (RTOS). The choice of OS depends on factors such as application requirements, software ecosystem, and development preferences.

Form Factor and Mounting Options

SOM come in various form factors, ranging from small, solderable modules to larger, pluggable modules with standard connectors. Common form factors include COM Express, Qseven, SMARC, and custom designs tailored to specific applications.


System on Module (SOM) represents a paradigm shift in embedded computing, offering a modular approach to system design and development. By encapsulating essential hardware components into standardized modules, SOMs streamline the development process, reduce time-to-market, and enable scalability across diverse applications.

SOM from Calixto System

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