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A quiet revolution is taking place in electronics hardware design and, as silicon integration has continued, engineers are gradually moving from developing mostly at the component and circuit level to working more with board, modules and subsystems.

There are many advantages that lie in a shift to modular design. One is greater ability to share in the economies of scale that come from the use of platforms that attract many customers. Industrial users have a long experience with modular hardware. The Versa Module Eurocard (VME) and CompactPCI standards provided integrators and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) working in low-volume markets with the ability to use high-performance computing. They could perform more extensive customisation of a computer’s capabilities without having to invest time and effort in high-end printed circuit board (PCB) design. Since those days, Moore’s Law has delivered incredible gains in functionality while also reducing the cost of individual parts. The Raspberry Pi single board computer is a key example.

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