Intel Dangles Upgradable AIO Idea to OEMs

Intel Dangles Upgradable AIO Idea to OEMs

If the question of upgradability has always been the reason why you've not purchased an AIO (All-In-One) PC yet, then there might be a chance in the near future that such an idea may be a possibility. No, we're not talking about HP's Z1 AIO workstation, although HP did lead the way with an innovative product specifically built for the workstation market. However, HP's Z1 is built for professionals and it doesn't come with a mainstream PC price tag.

At Intel's booth in Computex Taipei this week, Intel is showcasing the idea of an upgradable AIO PC with the hope that OEMs would be interested to work with Intel to develop this idea further.

In the AIO PC chassis, we were told that it will come built with a high quality display, power supply, basic I/O ports (e.g. USB), network, audio, Wi-Fi antenna and even wireless charging transmitters. Standard parts like mechanical hard drives or SSDs can be used with the system and it will be one of the parts that the user can easily swap on their own (similar to some AIOs we have today). For the brains, it will use a standard module known as the PMA (Pluggable Module Architecture) and it will come built with an Intel Core processor, the chipset (like the latest Z77 chipset), slots for SO-DIMM memory as well as a PCIe x1 slot. It will come with a standard connector that will plug into any AIO PC's base, making the upgrade really easy to perform.

This prototype AIO PC comes with a 21:9 aspect ratio high resolution display and its base supports wireless charging. Simply means, your wireless keyboard and mouse will not require any battery change since the proximity with the AIO's base would allow it to keep its charge topped up when not in use.

With the PMA, Intel is proposing that when an upgrade to a more powerful processor is due, the user can swap out the PMA for a newer and higher performance module. This would help the user keep their AIO PC up to speed with the latest technology while retaining standard parts that are still functioning within the PC. 

The proposition to create an ecosystem that will allow users to perform upgrades to their AIO PC is an interesting one. As users, we do hope that such an idea would come to fruition. However, the problem with OEMs building products with unique features may break the entire ecosystem and one brand's AIO PC design may not necessarily be compatible with another brand's PMA.

Only time will tell if this idea would resonate with OEMs. If it does, we could be expecting such systems to start appearing some time in the first quarter of 2013.

This PMA (pluggable module architecture) card comes with a 3rd generation Core processor (left) and the Intel Z77 chipset (right). The connector below (which is standard across all of such AIO PCs) will allow the board to connect with the PC's power supply, display, storage and ports.

Behind the board, there are two SO-DIMM memory slots as well as a PCIe connector for expansion.

There's also a module based on the Atom processor. You'll probably start off with this in your first AIO PC and then upgrade with something more powerful later on.

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