back to article OLPC spin-off teases modular 'Infinity' computer

One Education, a spin-off of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, has teased a design for a computer that can upgrade its major components forever while requiring little more skill than is necessary to connect LEGO bricks. The thinking behind the “XO-Infinity” (depicted above) is that one computer should last for a child's …

  1. PleebSmash

    ~ara ara

    It's a neat idea but how many years will new modules be produced? Will you be able to plug in a 7nm CPU module down the road?

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: ~ara ara

      From the website:

      "Modules conform to open standards, already in use by a variety of major manufacturers."

      However, that doesn't mean that 'One Education' haven't got 'registered design' or whatever classification for their particular implementation of those standards.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      ATX is about 20 years old

      Standards can last. I expect that when 7nm becomes mainstream, there will be an ATX motherboard for it.

      The big problem with ATX is that almost all customers can keep their old monitor, keyboard and mouse when they 'refresh' (does anyone say 'upgrade' anymore?). Customers able to use a screwdriver can replace the motherboard, CPU, memory, graphics card, power supply, optical disk and hard disk individually as required. The laptop was a great leap forward, requiring a regular purchase of a full set of new components. Modern designs include cases that crack if you try to upgrade the hard disk or memory, glued-in batteries and self destruct when the warranty expires.

      Customers with a clue have wanted modular laptops with standard parts for over a decade. The big manufacturers have worked hard never to repeat the mistakes they made with ATX. Sometimes a small player proposes a modular laptop (or phone). All goes well until people see the high price caused by lack of economies of scale and a poor deal on the crapware. It would be great if more customers could appreciate the long term savings available when upgrading only components that matter.

      OLPC have been around since 2005. By past performance, I would expect a modular computer in 2017, and an upgrade module in 2020. Some way will be found to avoid providing a machine suitable to large numbers of people in wealthy countries.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: ATX is about 20 years old

        "does anyone say 'upgrade' anymore?"

        I do. 'Refresh' sounds like something involving lemon scented napkins.

  2. Tromos

    If it's meant to last a lifetime...

    ...why design it to look suitable for an age range of 2 to 7?

    1. Lis 0r

      Re: If it's meant to last a lifetime...

      High child mortality?

  3. David Paul Morgan

    This sort of thing reminds me of...

    ... the old ICL DRS-300 computers that were modular and could multi-window.

    ICL were often way ahead of their competition, but never quite set a global standard...

    Each module was, unfortunately, the size of an A4 box-folder, but flexible despite that!

    1. Down not across

      Re: This sort of thing reminds me of...

      This sort of thing reminds me of...

      ... the old ICL DRS-300 computers that were modular and could multi-window.

      ICL were often way ahead of their competition, but never quite set a global standard...

      I was thinking more Burroughs B25. In the mid-80s, as I think was the DRS-300. Can't recall which actually was first.

  4. druck

    Following in the foot steps of Acorn

    The Acorn Risc PC, which was heavily used in education, featured not one but two replaceable CPU cards, back in 1994. The first card was the native processor, which grew from a 33MHz ARM6 to a 287MHz Strong ARM. The second card was an optional x86 processor for hardware PC emulation, and grew from a 486/33 to a 586/133.

    But as with anything that has replaceable components, eventually the underlying glue runs out of steam. In the Risc PC's case the motherboard's 16MHz bus between processors, memory and I/O was the bottleneck, and meant faster processors couldn't be fully utilised. The Kinetic upgrade featured a 300MHz StrongARM with its own fast RAM directly accessible, but I/O was still crippled.

  5. James 51 Silver badge

    Forget the kids, I want one. Keyboard died on my netbook and it was too slow to run windows 7. Being able to replace the keyboard and cpu like that is the way things should be.

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      ... And if more people were like you, and willing to accept that without upgrading the cpu footprint, motherboard, video, memory and hardisk, your memory and video and disk access will still be too slow for Win 7, they would still be making computers like that.

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