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Xi3 Modular Computers

CES 2013: Day 1 Highlights

Xi3 7-Series Modular Computer

The Xi3 Corporation unveiled its new 7-Series modular computer at this year's show. This tiny 64-bit x86 PC is essentially three boards crammed into a somewhat X-shaped casing.

Using embedded APUs from AMD's Trinity family, the 7A boasts a Turbo Core clock rate of 3.2 GHz and up to 384 Radeon cores. Incredibly, this gamepad-sized system packs a whopping 8 GB of DDR3 memory, and native triple-monitor support with two mini-DisplayPort outputs and a single combo HDMI/DisplayPort output. Other ports include four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, four eSATA, and three audio connectors (including optical out). Continuing to exhibit specs rarely seen in this form factor, the 7A can be equipped with up to 1 TB of SSD storage.

Xi3’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dave Politis, pointed out that this diminutive PC uses only 40 W of power, and that 224 of them can fit in a half-height rack. He purports that thanks to its excellent cooling characteristics, these small computers do not exhibit thermal bleed-over even when clustered. Each 7A contains just a single small fan and heat sink, with the entire aluminum chassis acting as a secondary heat sink.

We're told that Valve is considering a 7-Series-based prototype PC called the Piston for its long-rumored Steam Box game platform. 

Xi3 developed a custom SSD for the 7A, designated mSATAmax. With availability anticipated by mid-year, mSATAmax can facilitate 12 Gb/s transfer rates via a modified mSATA connector exclusive to Xi3 PCs.

The company also announced a smaller model boasting just 20 watts of power usage. Less than 2” tall, a little more than 4” wide, and 4” deep, this PC features 4 GB of DDR3 memory, dual monitor support, and a dual core processor based on AMD’s Ontario/Zacate low power APUs. This entry level model has flat a $399 price point with no configurable options. Availability is expected in the second quarter of 2013.

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