CES 2012: The Xi3 and the Transformation of the PC

CES 2012: The Xi3 and the Transformation of the PC
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So many announcements and new products are exhibited each year at the CES that we don’t really list all of them here. That being said, a tiny 4 x 4 x 4 inch PC made by Xi3 Corporation has sparked our interest. The continuous computers trend toward laptops and Tablets is considerably taking a cut into the traditional Desktop PC market. According to IDC, tablet sales will be equivalent to 15% of PC market in 2011. For 2012, GfK (Boutique Research) and CES sponsor the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) forecast that global spending on technology products will grow five percent to $1.04 trillion compared to eight percent growth last year and $993 billion in sales. Sales of tablets across the globe, for example, are expected to rise nearly 63% in 2012 to more than 103 million units, predicts research firm Gartner Inc. World-wide PC shipments, by contrast, are expected to rise 4.5% to about 370 million units.

According to market analysis firm Canalys, 2012 will probably also be another milestone for Apple as it is predicted to surpass Hewlett-Packard as the world’s leading PC vendor before the second half of 2012. Since the definition of a PC continues to change with the advent of tablet computers, Canalys decided to lump tablet sales in with PC sales in its report.

Indeed, the progressive transformation of the end-user computing landscape through a reduction in size, an increased mobility and processor power is speeding up the decline of the traditional PC paradigm. The mobile device is also in turn, morphing into a hyper-connected, localized and multifunction device. This shift is profoundly modifying the concepts on which the Personal Computer was built on in the early eighties. Besides the reduction in the size of the hardware and the exponential increase of their computational power, conceptually, PCs are pretty much running the same set of components since their creation. One of them being the Operating System which systematically translates into Windows for the PC world. In this context, Gartner recently reported a 1.4 percent decline in global PC sales for the 2011 fourth quarter. As this shift is accelerating, Microsoft market share is directly dependent on the adoption of its OS on tablets and smartphones.

In this context, the Xi3 demonstrates that the traditional PC can also morph into something smaller, evolutionary and energy efficient.

According to the Xi3 Corporation:

“Xi3 breaks the mold by separating the traditional computer motherboard into three distinct pieces, one for Processor and memory option, one for display and power options, and one for I/O or special connectivity options.”

Xi3 is an advanced, standardized core-processing technology that provides four key advantages:

1. Advanced feature sets:

Xi3 is a new architectural standard, one complete with advanced backplane designs and superior cooling processes. By coupling these advances to a standard architecture, Xi3 provides manufacturers with the ability to introduce more advanced feature sets into a diverse field of products.

2. Greater versatility:

The patented Xi3 architecture developed by ISYS Technologies, Inc. and licensed to Xi3 Corporation removes the peripherals from the substrate and makes logic interchangeable and adjustable, thus allowing a computer’s application to be varied or manipulated at will.

3. True scalability:
Xi3 is the new standard for scalability and a core processing architecture that allows multiple processing units to be added or subtracted as dictated by application or user demands. Added units work together with the original processor to increase functionality exponentially (more units equal more power). These units are coupled together in a network-like environment and allow additional processing capability to be added to the processing core or subsystems to satisfy new processing requirements. The ability to strip out the same units to create additional work stations provides the elusive flexibility paramount to a successful infrastructure.

4. Cost savings:
The Xi3 architecture allows one computing design to be used in virtually any computing application. This reduces the variety and amount of raw materials and manufacturing processes unique to each individual application, translating into dramatic cost savings.

Here’s an excerpt of the specs of the most powerful model:

Specifications: 5A Model # 5342

Processor Module (Module No. CPU-5A-C21)
Processor/Socket: Dual-core 64-bit 3400e Speed: 1.8GHz
Memory: 2GB DDR2 L2 Cache: 1MB
Power: 20 Watts
Interface: HT3-1GH
Primary I/O Module (Module No. PIO-5A-M62)

General Specs:
eSATA 3.0, 2.5 and 1.5 support
USB 2.0 support
PMC Optical Interface
Internal Storage: 16GB m
SATA SSD (up to 128GB) SSD Quick Boot (Linux or Windows)
External Connectors: 2 – eSATA 2.5
Ports 6 – USB 2.0 Ports (root hubs) 3 –
Reconfigurable Audio channels (1-3, Microphone, Headphone and/or Line-in/Line-out)

Source & Photo Credits: Xi3 Corporation