Tiny, upgradable system has three-story mobo

Xi3 has announced an interesting machine for those who value a small form-factor and the ability to upgrade, but don’t need a ton of computing power.

The press release from Xi3 neatly sums up some of the system’s unique selling points:

Measuring less than 4-inches per side, powered by 64-bit x86 dual core processors, yet requiring an average of 20 Watts or less to operate, the Xi3 Modular computer is a small cube-like computer that is completely modular in nature. The Xi3 Modular Computer is supported by six issued U.S. patents and utilizes the Xi3 computer architecture which divides the classic motherboard into three separate boards

  •     One board that houses the processors and RAM, and
  •     Two additional I/O boards to handle all connectivity and input/output requirements.

Each Xi3 board can be quickly removed, modified and/or replaced.

Dividing the machine’s motherboard into independent circuit boards is an intriguing idea and does open the door to some easy upgrades. Based on the existing hardware, I have a feeling the upgrading urge will strike sooner rather than later; the speediest configuration of this machine boasts a Athlon 64 4200+. Graphics duties are handled by a Radeon HD 3200 integrated GPU. And if you enjoy using a hard drive in your day-to-day computing, well, you’d better bring one—the spec sheet makes no mention of built-in storage.

Retail pricing has been set at $849, which might strike some as insanely, G4 Cube-esque overpriced a tad high, so it will be interesting to see how the system fares when it hits shelves in early 2011.

Comments closed
    • tesla120
    • 9 years ago

    I would buy one in a heartbeat if it came with a 64 gig SSD in it and the price was around $450-500 it would make a great rig for running to people’s houses to fix their computers

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Surprised they didn’t just put a couple of flash chips in there for storage for a OS… like 8GB or something built in. You can ind 64 on a keychain, I don’t know why they couldn’t have soldered it to the underside of the board or something.

    Putting that aside, it is unclear wether you purchase the different levels to reconfigure the stack or if you can buy things like memory yourself.

    If you have to purchase each layer separately to upgrade this, it’s not different then a integrated solution and stupid. Just preying on geeky love for small things.

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    It is /[

    • emvath
    • 9 years ago

    Does it come with the Diet Coke? Is that Diet Coke somehow worth $500.00? Cause thats the only way this price makes sense.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      The Diet Coke can is the power brick. It beams the power wirelessly to the system unit.

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve had bad cravings for Diet Coke before. But I dunno, 5 bills is kinda steep even in outer space.

    • rUmX
    • 9 years ago

    $849? Yiikes!!! Maybe that 3-story “special” motherboard costs them an arm and a leg? Meh could care less. What are these things even good for anyway? A car PC, perhaps?

    • muyuubyou
    • 9 years ago

    You sure it’s not $84.99?

    • timbits
    • 9 years ago

    I dyslexia read the price at $489 and thought “yeah that is a little expensive”… but eight hundred and fifty bucks, wtf?

    • allston232
    • 9 years ago

    yesterday hardware with tomorrow prices.

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    For (evidently) no HDD and therefore no OS license either, this thing ought to cost around $300-400, which would put it firmly in the territory Zotac has been targeting. Then sell a matching cube with an eSata disc array.

    For a solid grand, you could get the Zotac box with the built in BR player, add a Windows license, and still have enough cash to buy two friends, a couple BR titles, and a unhealthfully large selection of beverages.

    These guys are dreaming.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      How much cash are you figuring the friends cost?

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 9 years ago

        A dollar each?

    • Thrashdog
    • 9 years ago

    Wow, they’re splitting up the motherboard into several independent sub-boards? What an innovative idea that’s never been though of before in the whole history of computing!

    /s

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    It looks like these are intended to be used with the “Z3RO Module”, which seems like an interesting product and significantly drives down the total cost (for multiple users).

    These Xi3s are probably supposed to run Linux, or something at least that supports multiple terminals per system.

    • wibeasley
    • 9 years ago

    Could it work as a thin client? Do you need a hard drive for that, or can you do it all through a network boot?

    But I imagine its costs undermines most of the motivation to move to a thin client.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      *Most* of it? How about *all* of it?

      You could buy a pretty beefy PC, or a reasonably decent laptop for that price. If you want a thin client, get one of those little Atom PCs that bolts to the back of your monitor (for about 1/4th the price).

      I don’t understand what their target market is. This device looks like a solution in search of a (non-existent) problem.

        • wibeasley
        • 9 years ago

        The Xi3 has the advantage that its footprint is small, but not too small. It’s harder to convince people you’re special if the hardware is bolted behind the monitor and no one can see it.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 9 years ago

          But people do talk and brag about cool, handy things, no?

          • ludi
          • 9 years ago

          Easy — a computer powers up and the friend looks around a couple places for it and says, “Hey man, where’s the computer?” And you pause dramatically and then say, “It’s right there behind the monitor.” (Friend looks) “Where? I don’t see — oooohhh…cool.”

          This here is the right size and construction quality for a carputer…if it had a 12V input instead of 19V, and if it had a disc drive. But since it has neither, it’s not too good for that, either.

    • tinkthank
    • 9 years ago

    This concept was brought to market by industrial designers who have no concept of computer architecture or any of the industries they’re targeting.

    The form factor fails to be practical for digital signage, too underpowered (no GPU) for workstation use, and impractical as a desktop (no hard drive, WTF?).

      • Thrashdog
      • 9 years ago

      So… you’re saying its an Apple product?

        • bthylafh
        • 9 years ago

        Derp.

        • Sahrin
        • 9 years ago

        Comment of the Day.

        • Grigory
        • 9 years ago

        Bwahahaha!

    • Blazex
    • 9 years ago

    i’m almost imagining at that kind of size the only feasible storage options to fit inside the case would be a compact flash card or a sd card.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    I’d pay maybe 600? But I’m worried about installing an OS and all without a hard drive or optical drive

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 9 years ago

    Was someone smoking crack when they decided the price? I would assume that $849 is for the base spec – Only coming with a rather lowly 1Ghz AMD Athlon 2000+…

    The whole compact neatness of it goes out the window when you add an external SATA or USB drive and it’s accompanying power brick anyway. And, will Windows installer even allow you to put it onto a USB external drive anyway. I remember Vista’s installer didn’t like it…

      • maxxcool
      • 9 years ago

      agree…. 1000$ before chopping its balls off to make it cheaper… o.0???

      • alex666
      • 9 years ago

      It’s an AMD Athlon 64 4200, not 2400, but it still only runs at 2.2GHz. I have one in an older system that still runs pretty well. That said, the price is totally ridiculous. Who exactly would want this and why?

        • geekl33tgamer
        • 9 years ago

        The spec sheet on their site definatly shows an Athlon 64 2000+ being the base CPU. That, really is one pathethic processor by todays standards. The 4200+, while getting on a bit will be fine for general computing – But it’s an option according to the price list.

        I also agree that I don’t get who would want one of these. If you want to use Windows on it, you’ll need an external optical drive and an external HDD of some sort. It makes the Mac Mini look like a bargain!

    • maxxcool
    • 9 years ago

    you has me until i saw it is 1000$ bare bones….

    • ClickClick5
    • 9 years ago

    With all the ports on the front, this thing will get very cluttered fast. Ethernet, power, usb goodies, DVI….audio…. This thing could just be held up by the cables. Let it hang behind the desk.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      That’s the back. Want to purchase a jump to conclusions mat?

        • ClickClick5
        • 9 years ago

        So….what’s on the front? A light?

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Or you can just click the link that Matt provided, and discover that there’s nothing on the front except a funky logo.

        Not that it would make any difference to what ClickClick was saying.

      • maxxcool
      • 9 years ago

      I have so many scrotum jokes…. must hold back….

    • khands
    • 9 years ago

    Haha, yeah, I was with you till they got to the price, maybe if it ever hits 1/4 of that.

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