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.