(Photo : Pexels/Pixabay) PC 104 upgrade

PC-104 is a standard computer form factor that most people outside the gaming industry and industrial settings probably have not heard or seen before.

DOS gaming update

The PC-104 is essentially an Intel 486 processor with lots of support for standards that have long since disappeared from most computers, but this makes it great for two reasons.

First, it can control old industrial equipment, and second, it can run the classic DOS games on native hardware.

As for the latter, a YouTuber and industry expert called The Rasteri posted a video of the PC-104 that he is currently improving and building with an even smaller DOS gaming rig.

This time it is based on a platform even more diminutive than PC-104.

Also Read: Step-By-Step Video Guide: How to Build Your Own PC

The key of a build like this is that it needs native support for the ISA bus, which is already obsolete, in order to interface with a SoundBlaster card, a gold standard for video games of the era, according to NewsBreak. 

The smaller computer still has this functionality in a smaller package, but with some major improvements.

First it has a floating point unit so it can run games like Quake. It is also much faster than the PC-104 system and it uses less power. Also, it fits in an even smaller case.

The build goes well beyond just running software on a SoM computer. The Rasteri also custom built an interface board for this project, complete with all of the needed ports and an ISA sound chip, all while keeping size down to a minimum.

The new build also lets The Rasteri give the build a better name than the previous one, and will also let him expand some features in the future.

His saga is documented on his YouTube channel.

PC-104 deep dive

The PC-104 is a family of embedded computer standards which define both form factors and computer buses by the PC-104 Consortium, as per RTD.

The PC-104 is intended for specialized environments where a small, rugged computer system is needed. The standard is modular, and it allows consumers to stack together boards from a variety of COTS manufacturers to produce a customized embedded system.

The original PC-104 form factor is somewhat smaller than a desktop PC motherboard at 3.550 x 3.775 inches.

Unlike the other computer form factors like ATX, which rely heavily on a motherboard or backplane, the PC-104 boards are stacked on top of each other.

The PC-104 specification defines 4 mounting holes at the corners of each module, which allow the boards to be fastened to each other using standoffs.

The stackable bus connectors and use of standoffs give a rugged mounting than slot boards found in desktop PCs. The compact board size further contributes to the ruggedness of the form factor by reducing the possibility of PCB flexing under shock and vibration.

PC-104 is sometimes called a stackable PC. The majority of PC-104 CPU boards are x86 compatible and include standard PC interfaces like Serial Ports, USB, Ethernet, and VGA.

As for the storage, PC-104 systems require small, non-volatile storage, like that afforded by compact flash and solid state disk or SSD devices.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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