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Shuttle: Laptop Mobos and OEM Laptops

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

Others have tried and failed, but Shuttle is giving laptop motherboard standardization another shot. Oh, and they're going to manufacture laptops, too.

Shuttle is announcing its SPA and Micro SPA laptop motherboard standardization plans today, and if everything goes as planned, SPA will change the way we think about laptop lifespan. "Think of a laptop with all the advantages of a desktop," said Nick Villalobos, Marketing Manger for Shuttle. "SPA is going to be the future of notebooks."

SPA and Micro SPA are composed of two major components: The unchanging motherboard and customizable daughtercard(s). In the included pictures, you see the motherboards at the heart of the SPA/mSPA system. These motherboards house the CPU, which can vary from Intel's Pine Trail, Montevina and ULV to Congo from AMD, memory slots, and the basic I/O suite. The memory type and speed is dependent on the CPU, but the I/O suite is essentially the same across the board: two USB, HDMI, power and VGA. Graphics can be integrated, again depending on chipset and CPU, or discrete, which would use the aforementioned daughtercard. Other daughtercards would also house connections like eSATA, DisplayPort, and anything else the OEM would desire.

So where's the advantage? If SPA is widely adopted in the industry, any consumer with a SPA-based notebook will be able to upgrade his or her laptop with little effort and no headaches. Need a new video card so you can play Crysis 2? No soldering, no new laptop, no problem. Essentially, you will be able to buy a high-quality chassis that you really enjoy, and swap out the internal components when the time comes, even down to the keyboard.

So far, the details are few, but the concept is very strong. Shuttle wants this tech to be open, and is willing to work with any company, regardless of size, when it comes to engineering new daughtercards, chipset support, and OEM manufacturing.

All of the SPA motherboards will also be available in Shuttle OEM laptops starting later this year. From 10-inches all the way to 17.3-inches, and including AMD and Nvidia discrete graphics, Shuttle is seriously looking to change the laptop landscape.

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  • 12 Hide
    FrozenGpu , January 8, 2010 9:52 PM
    This is very good news!
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    FrozenGpu , January 8, 2010 9:52 PM
    This is very good news!
  • 1 Hide
    terr281 , January 8, 2010 9:52 PM
    It would be a very good thing for the consumer if the concept catches on, thus allowing people to actually build their own laptops. (To the point that, many years down the road, we could finally get rid of consumer desktops (ATX specification) and downsize to laptops as the most common machine.

    With the above said, I seriously doubt it will occur. Why? If the consumer has the option of simply replacing the daughter card/cards, then the OEM (HP, Dell, etc.) loses out on the other overpriced hardware. (Screen, HD, etc.)

    Much like Lucid's Hydra Tech for graphic's cards (yesterday), we can hope it takes off...
  • 5 Hide
    anonymouse , January 8, 2010 9:54 PM
    Hopefully this will catch on and help bridge the notebook vs desktop price per performance gap.
  • 0 Hide
    theholylancer , January 8, 2010 9:56 PM
    this would be good if they kept some back-ward compati things like say MXM for gfx or something that would allow a faster adaption.
  • 5 Hide
    anamaniac , January 8, 2010 9:57 PM
    Me like!
    Drop a few hundred on a professionally manufactured magnesium alloy shell.
    have a standard 15" screen with standard size battery, single 2.5" HDD slot, standard DVD slot etc.
    Need a new screen? Upgrade your 1366x768 15" LCD to a 4D 5464x3072 multitouch OLED.
    Need some new storage? Upgrade your 2.5" 250GB HDD to a 2.5" 12TB SDD.
    Need a new DVD drive? Upgrade your DVD drive to a BluRay x52 burner.
    Need a new battery? Go from your 4 cell lithium to your 12 cell plutonium battery.
    Need a new GPU? Replace your 1GB 4670m with a 8GB 7870m.
    Upgrade your 300Mb/s wireless N to 10Gb/s Wireless Z
    Finally, want to replace the shell? Keep all other components, but replace that old, heavy, and weak magnesium shell with a 5Cr-Mo-V shell.

    One can wish, can't they?
    =D
  • 0 Hide
    maniac5999 , January 8, 2010 10:02 PM
    maybe this means I can finally get decent graphics in a 12" chassis (and NO, not Ion, unless someone will actually pair it with a CULV processor.
  • 0 Hide
    azgard , January 8, 2010 10:12 PM
    This would actually be a lot easier then these OEM's make it out to be, creating a standardized format is important, but an additional aspect that would need to be added to this is that buying a shell would need to have thermal rating's and power ratings for upgrade locations and components, something you don't see in desktops because generally...it just doesn't matter.
  • 0 Hide
    zachary k , January 9, 2010 4:37 AM
    a big step in the right direction, can't wait for cases and monitors, graphics cards!!!!
  • 0 Hide
    1st duke of marlborough , January 9, 2010 5:52 AM
    If consumers want it bad enough, it will catch on. After all, in capitalist societies, the consumer is king! I doubt there will be enough of a push right now to get this going though..
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2010 8:08 AM
    Nice idea and good luck to them but I think they'll struggle to make this catch on, unless it forms a new 'category' or market segment for notebooks/laptops. Look at the existing efforts of each manufacturer to differentiate their products by offering different sizes, getting ever thinner etc. They already have a lot of engineering constraints on how to pack in all those features, but having to follow a standard layout in a tight space will probably reduce the avenues available for innovation and added value. The embedded industry also has a love/hate relationship with daughter cards: the interconnect is another source of possible unreliability and requires a new standard interface to be defined; the total NRE cost of designing the mainboard and the daughterboards separately whilst having to adhere to a strict standard for the internal interface to ensure interoperability will be higher than a single board solution where you are free to optimise the signal routing without having to consider the location of the interconnect. But maybe at the lower end of the market with slightly bigger, fatter laptop shells they could open a new market segment for high volume standard component modules for self-build systems. I don't think Dell or Apple will get into this.
  • 0 Hide
    Platypus , January 9, 2010 11:26 AM
    Wonderful concept. I hope it catches on and changes the laptop world as we know it. To support this idea, I will look at Shuttle first when I go to buy my next laptop. If they have the goods, I'll jump in with both feet.
  • 0 Hide
    arrghushakaboorga , January 9, 2010 1:34 PM
    I like this very much. I've always built my own desktops and have been waiting for the day I could have a lot of options for working on lappys.
  • 0 Hide
    Regulas , January 9, 2010 1:51 PM
    This would be great news for the Linux community. Get a laptop with paying the MS Tax. Now flame me MS trolls who live on this site.
  • 0 Hide
    Regulas , January 9, 2010 1:53 PM
    I retract my statement, these are for OEM Manufactures who will still stuff MS and bloatware onto the finished product.
  • 0 Hide
    cjy111 , January 9, 2010 3:53 PM
    Thermal, Mechanism, Acoustic, Power consumption.....

    If they can assure these factors' compatibility, the plan might work in DIY market.

    On the other hand, the OEM market will be a different story. Can anyone built an Apple Air with standardize upgradeable modules?
  • 0 Hide
    cjy111 , January 9, 2010 3:53 PM
    Thermal, Mechanism, Acoustic, Power consumption.....

    If they can assure these factors' compatibility, the plan might work in DIY market.

    On the other hand, the OEM market will be a different story. Can anyone built an Apple Air with standardize
  • 0 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , January 9, 2010 5:16 PM
    OH MY GOD! I can't wait , I'm already as gitty as a school girl! =D
  • 0 Hide
    nawat , January 9, 2010 7:22 PM
    I'd love to see this out in the mainstream. It's a very good idea. However, I don't know how they will handle big laptop companies. Because if they see this as a threat, they would crush this new technology into pieces.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 10, 2010 2:35 PM
    DIY laptops are nothing new. Components have been available for quite some time. We had a couple of threads about it in the THG forums.
  • 0 Hide
    acecombat , January 10, 2010 11:10 PM
    But can it play ....
    TomsNeed a new video card so you can play Crysis 2? No soldering, no new laptop, no problem.

    Looks like it will :) 
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