Originally Posted by Tugly
I work with "Car PCs" on a daily basis, they have SSDs - Solid State (hard) Drives. SSDs are slowly replacing the "legacy" spinning-disk hard drives in computers. We have a number of rack-mount i7 computers at work that have SSDs, with no HDDs that you likely have in the computer giving you access to the forum right now. The benefits are crazy-fast boot-ups and read times, very low power demand, no need for "defragging", and no moving parts - allegedly making them more reliable (we'll see). This no moving parts thing is where SSDs shine for an 8000-pound brick... like getting rid of the skipping that can happen on a CD player. SSDs were once crazy-expensive, but the prices are plummeting - as happens when new computer technology is mass-produced and mass-consumed.
Don't expect car PCs to be as reliable as their desktop counterparts - they live in very different environments. Vibration, dust, and extreme temps are very unfriendly to electronic circuitry. While you might make the counterpoint that the dash stereo has been working great for a lot of years, I could counter "What about the overhead?". The old car stereos are very basic and robust - car PCs are advanced technology by comparison... and a car stereo never needed a fan on the "processor" to keep it from overheating when in use. The car PCs I work with don't have fans - they are one great big heat-sink... and they need to be mounted where it's coolest in the vehicle and gets the most ventilation. The cooling fins need to be cleaned on a regular basis... so access is a factor.
While I have not worked in a dedicated automotive field I have done numerous gov/dod contracts for dev and IT support. I fully agree with the SSD. I was trying to split hte middle in recommendations for those that do not or can not afford to put $$ toward the SSD. All of my personal laptops minus things like my NAS etc are all SSD only. As you well know once you use a SSD you will never want to go back to "analog" hard drives. The speed and reliability is so far ahead in the SSD. I recall when they were still in dev and not public release watching a demo cold boot time demonstration.
My point was for those looking to use muli camera systems at least to me it makes sense to have a centralized server (mini) handling the storage . Given that a person might as well plan for future upgrades such as touch screen in the dash or center console. Attach GPS . Route diagnostic logging to it as well. A couple 512 SSD driver will take care of most anything needed for storage. IF anything needed to be saved could be handled via wifi once parked at a home for offloading. You could even script it to offload all diagnostic logging and video on a schedule to a home NAS or other large HD capacity machine.
I very much doubt I have anywhere near the direct experience specific to camera in automotive that you have so you likely know far more of the positives and well as pitfalls. But I do think where 10 yrs ago something like this would be very cost prohibitive today you could build something very impressive for the price of say a top end laptop. Something quiet beneficial and usable for far far less.
I would love to hear anything you have on ideas or "in's and out's" of the "automotive PC" world. I am planning on working up a full system on my current Excursion project.
What have you found are the best encolsures powersupples and motherboards for these applications?