EE Times: Xi3: Most un-boring desktop PC ever
By Sylvie Barak
If you thought the desktop computer was dead, think again.
Hardware startup Xi3 says it’s on a mission to “change the way computers are built, serviced and upgraded,” by eliminating obsolescence and stuffing as much into a tiny, gorgeous little cube as it can. Welcome to modular computing at its cutest.
“The trend in technology is not to have a smaller computer, the trend is to have a more powerful computer in a smaller space,” said Jason Sullivan, inventor and CEO at Xi3, which has just launched its Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of raising $250,000 by the end of October.
“Form really needs to follow function. In order to build something great, you need to understand the problem,” he said noting that “when things are designed properly, lots of other things fall in line.”
One of the biggest problems with desktop computers, according to Xi3, is that they need to be replaced every few years, creating monstrous amounts of waste, as well as being costly. They’re also boring, says the firm.
Enter the Xi3 Modular Computer, possibly the least boring x86-based desktop computer on the planet, a 4.27x3.65x3.65-inch cube (roughly the size of a grapefruit).
Packed into the tiny space of the initial X5A-5342 model is a Dual-Core 64-bit, x86-based processor running at 1.8GHz, with 2GB of RAM, 16GB-1TB of solid-state storage, dual monitor support, 6 USB 2.0 ports and 2 eSATAp ports. The device also includes a patented tri-board to replace the standard computer motherboard to purportedly make repairs, modifications and/or upgrades a piece of pie.
The logic behind this is that a regular motherboard can be divided into about three key pieces, but by separating them and slotting them together like bits of Lego, the whole system becomes infinitely easier to tinker with.
“It’s never been done before so we had to invent all sorts of technologies,” said Sullivan, noting that the firm already had no less than six international patents for its design.
Not only is it award winningly innovative (The X5A-5342 Xi3 Modular Computer won an Innovations Award in the Computer Hardware category for the 2011 International CES trade show) it’s also virtually indestructible, as videos of it being driven over by a truck prove.
Requiring a mere 20 Watts to operate versus the average 100-300 Watts it takes to run a comparable computer, the Xi3 module is pretty eco-friendly too.
If it’s already so great, though, why does the company need another cool quarter million in funding? You may well ask. Well, the X5A-5342 model was just the beginning, and Xi3 is now busy planning two new models, the power user, gaming mean machine X7A and the more entry level X3A.
Two new models, the X7A and X3A
Xi3 wants the X7A to be powered by a new Quad-Core 64-bit, x86-based processor running at up to 3.2GHz, integrated with up to 384 graphics shader cores and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. This, says the firm, should make it completely capable of handling graphics-rich computer games like Crysis 2 with ease.
The X7A should also be able to run up to three high-definition monitors simultaneously, will boast four USB 3.0/2.0 ports, four eSATAp ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, with up to 1TB of super-fast solid-state storage inside. All in a similar tiny chassis the size of a softball measuring 4.27x3.65x3.65-inches and running on just 40Watts of electricity or less.
Xi3 says it plans to begin shipping the X7A in early 2013 for around $1,000 a unit, at least half the price of its bigger desktop rivals.
Meanwhile, the entry-level X3A will be powered by a Dual-Core 64-bit, x86-based 1.65GHz chip and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, with 32GB of solid-state storage (upgradeable to 1TB), able to support two high-definition displays simultaneously and sporting two USB 3.0/2.0 ports, four eSATAp ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port.
That 4.27x3.56x3.656-inch cube will apparently only require 18 Watts of power to run and is slated to begin shipping in early 2013 at prices starting at under $500.
With upcoming I/O Boards that feature new components/connectors, Xi3 believes its little modular computer cubes could enjoy between six to 10 years of life, instead of the paltry three to five of traditional desktop PCs, making them a compelling buy for the price.
Interested? Want to know more? Check out the video below and if you’re suitably impressed (as I am) head on over to the KickStarter page and pledge an amount.
A pledge of $3 gets you a place on Xi3’s fan appreciation page and monthly newsletter, while $33 gets you a founder autographed t-shirt. $253 gets you a spot at a group dinner of 100 or fewer guests with Xi3 Founder and CEO, Jason Sullivan, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, while $499 snags the current Xi3 model. $503 and $603 pledges receive X3A models with Windows 7 /Windows 8 installed on them and varying specs a full week before general distribution, while a pledge of $1,103 bags an X7A model.
If you’re feeling particularly generous, however, a pledge of $9993 will net you a X7A housed in a special gold or platinum coated chassis with delivery two weeks prior to general availability. Worth its weight in gold? What do you think?
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Xi3 NewsMarch 09, 2013:
GEEK: Geek @ SXSW: Xi3, Modular Computing & the PISTON Gaming System Liveblog
March 08, 2013:
NEWS RELEASE: With Demand Growing, Xi3 Corporation Opens Pre-Orders for its PISTON Console (PC)
March 04, 2013:
NEWS RELEASE: Xi3 Corporation to Showcase Modular Computers and Servers at HIMSS13
February 15, 2013:
The Guardian: The future of gaming: key contenders
February 06, 2013:
Develop: The other next generation of consoles
Xi3 EventsOctober 18, 2012:
CETPA 2012: Xi3 to Exhibit at Annual California Educational Technology Professionals Association Conference
October 17, 2012:
RETECH 2012: Xi3 to Exhibit at Leading Renewable Energy Conference
October 12, 2012:
D&H Headquarters: Xi3 Featured During Sales Floor Day
June 21, 2012:
EVENTS: Xi3 to Exhibit at the D&H Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Show 2012
March 27, 2012:
Xi3 presenting at the Design West 2012 show March 27 - 29
Xi3 AccoladesQUOTE: In a revelation that will perhaps steal the entire (CES 2013) show -- via Gameranx
QUOTE: Xi3 products seem destined to change the way many people look at their systems -- via The Washington Times
QUOTE: The Xi3 Modular Computer has "some impressive stats for something so tiny" -- via the Los Angeles Times
QUOTE: "The Xi3 Modular Computer is one cool-looking desktop in a cube" -- via Engadget
QUOTE: "Hats off to Xi3 . . . for making a better Mac than Apple" via The Desk of DV Dude