Shuttle: Laptop Mobos and OEM Laptops

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.

More on CES 2010

  • FrozenGpu
    This is very good news!
  • terr281
    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...
  • anonymouse
    Hopefully this will catch on and help bridge the notebook vs desktop price per performance gap.
  • theholylancer
    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.
  • anamaniac
    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?
  • maniac5999
    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.
  • azgard
    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 just doesn't matter.
  • zachary k
    a big step in the right direction, can't wait for cases and monitors, graphics cards!!!!
  • 1st duke of marlborough
    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..
  • 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.