Windows 11 and Embedded Systems – What You Should Know

Author: James Gane

If you’re reading this after October 5th 2021, then Microsoft’s new Windows 11 operating system should be available to download.

Except for long-term service channel releases (LTSC), it will be a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 users (which may go some way to explaining why the leaked version of Windows 11 could be installed with Windows 10 licence keys). Those with their ear to the ground may remember Microsoft announcing that Windows 10 will be their last iteration of the Windows series, yet for some reason they’ve gone back on this suggestion and brought to us this new and improved version.

Not that we’re complaining — Windows 11 is set to bring with it numerous significant improvements. Everybody loves a new-look UX, so of course this new version will have a complete redesign of the look and feel. Better touch features are on their way for tablet users, plus improved security and multi-tasking, and Windows Updates will be 40% smaller according to their latest documentation.

Standalone and IoT versions are coming

Right now, the only way to install Windows 11 is through the Windows Update function in Windows 10, but news on the wire is that 2022 will bring with it standalone versions of Windows 11 including Home, Pro, and Enterprise. For the Embedded space there is also the promise of a Windows 11 IoT Enterprise hitting the shelves in 2023 (LTSC versions also available) which we’re excited to learn more about as information is released by Microsoft.

Minimum requirements

Now, there are some limitations that will need to be considered by those in the Embedded space who may be wishing to upgrade to the new Windows 11 platform. The two most notable of these limitations are the fact it needs a minimum 8th Gen. Core Intel or AMD Ryzen 3 chipset, and the requirement of a TPM2.0. More on that in a moment.

For now, here are the minimum requirements:
 
Component / technologyMinimum requirement
Processor64-bit architecture at 1 GHz or faster; Intel: 8th Gen. or newer; AMD Ryzen 3 or better
System MemoryMinimum 4GB
Storage64GB or larger
System BIOS and FirmwareUEFI compatible bios with secure boot function
TPMTrusted Platform Module Version 2.0
Graphics ProcessorDirect X 12 compatible or later
DisplayHigh definition (720p) display greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel.

CPU requirements
As mentioned, Microsoft has declared that the minimum CPU requirements are Intel 8th Gen. Core and upwards, which would include mobile, and the U and ATOM series that have been released since the birth of the 8th generation chips. For AMD, the minimum is the Zen+ microarchitecture, starting with the Ryzen 3 2300x. A full list of supported processors is available from the Microsoft website here.

We have a number of industrial and embedded products which meet the minimum CPU requirements:
 
Trusted Platform Module (TPM2.0)
TPM technology is designed to provide hardware-based, security-related functions, using a secure cryptoprocessor that carries out cryptographic operations via physical security mechanisms to prevent tampering and helping ensure platform integrity. Microsoft have mandated the requirement for a Trusted Platform Module (TPM2.0) in order to run Windows 11, but the good news is that onboard TPMs are available on some boards as standard, which can simply be enabled via the BIOS. For those that don’t come equipped with them, unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to TPMs, so a physical header would need to be purchased from the board manufacturer. As a note, if you are using AMD based architecture then TPM is referred to as fTPM.

Many of our industrial and embedded PCs offer TPM2.0 as standard:
 
UEFI
A requirement announced by Microsoft in order to run Windows 11 is a UEFI-based BIOS that supports a secure-boot option. Fortunately, most (if not all) of the supported CPUs run on a UEFI BIOS, but you may need to enable it in your BIOS settings as it’s not always turned on by default with every board.

Display requirements
This was a slight eyebrow-raiser within our technical team. For those wishing to run Windows 11 on tablets or panel PCs, resolution now has a minimum requirement. Windows 11 requires a high definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, which means that small displays with 4:3 and 5:4 aspect ratios will be unable to run the platform.

Memory and storage
Microsoft’s minimum requirements for Windows 11 dictates that systems will require at least 4GB of system memory and a minimum of 64GB storage. Direct X12-compatible graphics are also required but, as with the need for UEFI, all supported processors with a GPU do indeed support DX12 graphics. For CPUs without a GPU, Nvidia 600 series and AMD Radeon 7000 series graphics cards onwards will support Direct X 12.

We can help you transition to Windows 11

Following the release of these minimum requirements, for those in the Embedded and Industrial sector there may be some hardware upgrades and changes that need to be facilitated if you wish to transition to Windows 11. Impulse System Designers can help you spec an Embedded or Industrial PC system which can run Windows 11, and integrate with all required components such as memory, storage and expansion. We can install, configure, and test Windows 11 on your systems, and install any of your software prior to shipping out to you. Just speak to one of our team on +44(0)1782 337 800 or click here to send us an enquiry.
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