Intel "Element" brings a fully module PC

Intel "Element" brings a fully module PC

Intel have showcased a new product, codenamed "Element", which combines PCIe cards to form a fully modular PC. This means a computer in the future could consist of a simple backplane with lots of PCIe slots, in to which different processing modules could be plugged in. For example, you may need an Intel Element CPU module (also containing memory modules) and then a selection of GPU, RAID and custom FPGA cards. This bypasses the need for a traditional motherboard and gives improved upgrade options when hardware requirements change.

It's likely that this sort of configuration would be used in data centres and systems with very high-end computing requirements. No doubt a similar configuration could be used for consumer level systems, but at the moment there isn't much advantage to this setup. It's likely consumer hardware will shrink in size and power, rather than take on this more modular approach.

AnandTech have a wide selection of photos and press information from the launch event:

What was presented on stage wasn’t much more than a working prototype of a small dual-slot PCIe card powered by a BGA Xeon processor. On the card was also two M.2 slots, two slots for SO-DIMM LPDDR4 memory, a cooler sufficient for all of that, and then additional controllers for Wi-Fi, two Ethernet ports, four USB ports, a HDMI video output from the Xeon integrated graphics, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The M.2 slots and SO-DIMM slots are end-user accessible, by lifting a couple of screws from the front. This is in no-way a final design, but just a working prototype. The exact cooler, styling, and even the product name is in no way final yet, but the concept is solid.

OEMs will only have to wait until Q1 2020 to get their hands on Element, so expect more news in the coming months.
Ian Cunningham
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