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.
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