Xi3 Shows Off Beautiful Modular Computers at CES 2013
There are just a handful of models in the lineup thus far, but despite their small size, these machines pack a wallop. The X7A is the highest end unit in the group and should offer dual- or quad-core APUs (up to the 3.2GHz R-464L) with up to HD 7660G graphics (supporting a max resolution of 4096x2160) and 384 programmable cores.
What sets Xi3’s computers apart is the modularity of the devices. Essentially, the motherboard is split into three smaller boards, each with a different purpose and set of chips. For example, one will hold the APU and heatsink; one will handle primarily graphics I/O, sporting connectors such as HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, mSATA, and power; and the other has all the primary I/O ports including eSATA and USB and also has the storage SSDs. (Their monikers are the “processor board”, “secondary I/O board”, and “primary I/O board”, respectively.
The two I/O modules snap into the processor board at right angles. If and when the time comes to update or upgrade components (including the APU), users can simply buy new board modules directly from Xi3 and just pop them in.
The computers can also be mounted just about anywhere, allowing users to put them in servers racks, embed them in systems, or attach them to just about any surface you wish to use. To expand the storage capabilities of an Xi3 box, you can add an external hard drive (called the SLID3) as another sort of module.
Despite the fact that technically Xi3’s computers are small form factor affairs, the company isn’t trying to find a niche in the adorable computing market here; instead, these are designed primarily for high performance (be it gaming or workstation applications), power efficiency, and flexibility.
Also, as you may have noticed, they’re definitely eye candy.