Once upon a time, computers, with a small computing power by modern standards, occupied entire rooms, and sometimes the floors of buildings. One of the first computers manufactured by IBM, was about 17 m long and weighed 4.5 tons. But year by year, with the development of technology, miniaturization processes have grown exponentially.
Now we can already say that modest dimensions are by no means an indicator of computing power. Some time ago, Intel came up with the idea of creating a device with a single connection interface, and officially presented it at CES2017. In fact, this is a module, which is a minicomputer that could be used in various fields of human activity.
In fact, the manufacturer is trying to implement a single modular principle of operation – it provides “brains” that can be replaced with new ones at any time, depending on the needs of a particular customer or if repairs are needed. The idea was put into practice, as a result, at the moment there are several models of such devices in the Intel line at once. Slightly larger than a credit card (94x55x5mm), the computing module is a miniature motherboard that integrates a processor with a graphics chip, RAM and solid-state memory for data storage, as well as a communication module that supports LAN and wireless networks of the IEEE802.11 ac standard and Bluetooth . In general, he has everything that is required for work, with the exception of the usual connection connectors. Such a module can be used without active cooling, has compact dimensions and low weight, while it can provide all the necessary needs, and, most importantly, it can be easily changed. For example, you have a laptop with a good screen (yes, there are some) and a decent keyboard, but you are not satisfied with its performance.
With a modular design, you simply pull out an obsolete computing module, replacing it with a new one. Undoubtedly convenient.
However, there are a number of pitfalls. If any element of the module fails, it is rather difficult to replace it due to the high density of elements mounting and throwing out the old one, it will be less expensive to put a new one in its place. The second point is the cost of the board – Intel does not yet name specific prices, but it is unlikely to be lower than the cost of individual components (if we consider components for self-assembly of a mid-range PC), given the miniaturization of the solution.
The point of releasing such a device is to stake out your niche in the market of the coming era of the Internet of things, standardizing it for your products. For example, according to Gartner forecasts, 20 billion devices will reach 20 billion devices by 2020 (currently 8.4 billion), and if Intel can convince hardware manufacturers to use these modules and software developers, use the available capacity and squeeze the most out of these devices (but Intel has no experience in this), and, most importantly, to prove to customers the convenience of such a design, that is, there is every chance of success.
If you think sensibly, then you can find a lot of areas of application for such devices. First of all, these are a variety of smart devices, including smart machines, payment terminals and thin clients, entry-level workstations, home media servers, etc.
Now in the manufacturer’s lineup there are 4 models of Compute Card devices, which are equipped with processors of the Apollo Lake and Kaby Lake series – CD1IV128MK, CD1M3128MK, CD1C64GK, CD1P64GK.
The highest model CD1IV128MK uses a seventh-generation Core i5-7Y57 vPro dual-core processor operating at frequencies of 1.2-3.5 GHz (14 nm, Kaby Lake) depending on the load and an Intel HD Graphics 615 graphics chip. The CD1M3128MK is equipped with a Core m3- 7Y30 with two cores, with operating frequencies from 1.0 to 2.6 GHz. It is also complemented by an Intel HD Graphics 615 graphics module. Both older models are equipped with a 128 GB solid-state SSD
The younger and less productive models of the CD1C64GK and CD1P64GK line are equipped with a Celeron N3450 processor (Apollo Lake), has four cores (1.1 GHz -2.2 GHz) and a quad-core Pentium N4200 with a frequency of 1.1-2.5 GHz. In the first case, the Intel HD Graphics 505 graphics controller is used, in the second, the Intel HD Graphics 500 graphics chip. Both models use 64 GB eMMC standard flash drives as permanent memory for data storage. The size of RAM for all current models is 4 GB.
In addition to them, the manufacturer has released a miniature Compute Card Docking Station for personal use. All you need to do to turn it into a mini-PC is to insert a Compute Card module into it. The docking station is equipped with HDMI, DisplayPort outputs, as well as several USB interfaces and wired RJ45.
According to company representatives, a number of major hardware manufacturers have already become interested in this concept, so in the near future we should expect the mass appearance of these devices.
Photo: manufacturer, Chip.ru
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