Rugged computers are specially designed for environments that are tougher than the average office or home computer suite. They are more durable and offer special features that often make the difference between success and failure of missions and projects. With quality materials and innovation built into the system, rugged computers require a higher investment. How will you know if you need a rugged computer for the projects or uses you have in mind? Here are 5 conditions where rugged computer systems outperform their everyday counterparts.
If you are working outdoors or in non-climate controlled environments, take note of the temperature. Rugged computing systems can work in sudden climate changes and in steady temperatures of extreme highs or lows without reliability or efficiency issues. Non-rugged computers that are used in high temperature environments may work for a period of time but the higher temperatures will cause early failure of the unit. When non-rugged computers sense higher than normal temperatures the processor will run slower in an attempt to protect the system. This can dramatically reduce the performance of the system. Germane Systems’ rugged computers are designed to operate at extreme temperatures while maintaining maximum performance without any impact to the longevity of the computer. Germane computers are tested in a thermal chamber from -4 degrees to 158 degrees F for performance, durability and reliability.
Operation of a computer at high altitudes, which are experienced in airplane flight, ha Has a dramatic impact on the performance and life of computers. As altitude increases the number of air molecules available to cool the computer are dramatically reduced. This has the same impact to the internal temperature of the components as operating a system in a high temperature environment. Disk drives have rotating disks and the magnetic heads that float on a thin layer of air. At altitude increases the efficiency of that cushion decreases and results in failure of the disk drive. This problem can be solved by using solid state drives which have no moving parts.
Shock and Vibration
Germane rugged computers are designed to continue to operate even when exposed to strong shocks and vibration. The parts in non-rugged computers will shake lose and even break when subjected to rough handling or bumpy transportation, similar to what you might experience in a moving vehicle or during shipments, such as trade shows. Rugged computers are designed to survive and to continue to operate at full performance even when subjected to shocks in excess of +50Gs (50 times the force of gravity). Rugged computers must also be able to operate and not have components disconnect when exposed to a wide range of continuous vibrations. For example, on-board ships low frequency vibrations, (30Hz to 500Hz) will cause a standard computer to fall apart after a short time. Rugged computers are custom designed to last for years of continuous 24/7/365 operation on board a ship or when being used in a vehicle traveling over rough terrain or in industrial facilities and oil drilling platforms. Rugged computers must do more than not break in extreme shock and vibration conditions they must continue to operate at their maximum performance.
Some situations require computers that make very little noise and in some cases no noise. One example of this need is on submarines. Low or no noise these are not characteristics that are considered by manufactures of non-rugged computers. Rugged computers, servers and storage systems use a combination of rubber isolators and custom low noise fans that operate a slower speeds in lower temperatures to reduce both airborne and structure borne noise. Fanless rugged computing systems are another rugged computing solution that completely reduces noise. Fanless computers use a variety of cooling techniques such as, active heat sinks, cold plates, heat pipes and liquid cooling.
Liquid, Moisture and Mold
Anyone who has ever spilled their coffee on a laptop knows first-hand that commercial computers and liquids don’t go together. Rugged computers can be sealed so that they not only survive exposed to water but they can continue to operate when immersed in water. A sealed computer can operate submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes (standard IP67). In other cases a rugged computer might need to operate outdoors where it might be exposed to blowing rain (IP65). Because many rugged computers operate in high temperature environment they must be able to operate in condensing high humidity conditions. This can be solved in a variety of ways including sealing the electronics with conformal coating. Conformal coating is also used to prevent the occurrence of mold.
When considering a computer that will be used in an environment with high temperatures, subject to shock and vibration, low noise or is exposed to high levels of moisture a rugged computer will provide long life and maximum performance even in the most challenging of environment conditions.