[AnandTech] The modular PC: Intel's new Element brings Project Christine to Life - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[AnandTech] The modular PC: Intel's new Element brings Project Christine to Life

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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[AnandTech] The modular PC: Intel's new Element brings Project Christine to Life

Source: https://www.anandtech.com/show/14953...istine-to-life

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Way back at CES 2014, Razer’s CEO introduced a revolutionary concept design for a PC that had one main backplane and users could insert a CPU, GPU, power supply, storage, and anything else in a modular fashion. Fast forward to 2020, and Intel is aiming to make this idea a reality. Today at a fairly low-key event in London, Intel’s Ed Barkhuysen showcased a new product, known simply as an ‘Element’ – a CPU/DRAM/Storage on a dual-slot PCIe card, with Thunderbolt, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB, designed to slot into a backplane with multiple PCIe slots, and paired with GPUs or other accelerators. Behold, Christine is real, and it’s coming soon.

‘The Element’ from Intel
Truth be told, this new concept device doesn’t really have a name. When specifically asked what we should call this thing, we were told to simply call it ‘The Element’ – a product that acts as an extension of the Compute Element and Next Unit of Computing (NUC) family of devices. In actual fact, ‘The Element’ is a product of the same team inside Intel: the Systems Product Group responsible for the majority of Intel’s small form factor devices has developed this new ‘Element’ in order to break the iterative design cycle into something that is truly revolutionary.

(This is where a cynic might say that Razer got there first… Either way, everyone wins.)

What was presented on stage wasn’t much more than a working prototype of a small dual-slot PCIe card powered by a BGA Xeon processor. On the card was also two M.2 slots, two slots for SO-DIMM LPDDR4 memory, a cooler sufficient for all of that, and then additional controllers for Wi-Fi, two Ethernet ports, four USB ports, a HDMI video output from the Xeon integrated graphics, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 01:36 PM
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Kind of interesting. Seems like it somewhat missed the mark. I mean, I'd rather see the USB, Ethernet, and Thunderbolt ports on other PCIe add-in cards ... working toward modularity. In that way, if I need USB or Thunderbolt, I add it. This is really just a motherboard on a card.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 01:38 PM
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wait, how is this anything like Christine... minus both having computer chips?

all I'm seeing is a bunch of stuff soldered to a pci-e, with marketing spin.

Christine had actual fully modular parts to complete the system, whereas this is a modular part you add into a system.

Each component was modular on Christine, whereas this is a mini-PC on a PCI-E card.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 02:54 PM
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It's Intel, you're getting a new mobo with a new socket when you want to upgrade your CPU anyway, might as well just have the two welded together from the start.


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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:03 PM
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System builders have been using integrated backplanes for decades, long before wire wrap went out of vogue. The concept while perhaps newish to the consumer, isn't new itself.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:04 PM
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What is the benefit to this?

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:15 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by UltraMega View Post
What is the benefit to this?
well, from what I see... They've essentially built what would equate to a "mini-pc" onto a GPU sized PCI-E card.

do some mental gymnastics, and instead of it just being a mini-pc, it's some epic not-GPU card that does stuff in the pcie.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:42 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by skupples View Post
well, from what I see... They've essentially built what would equate to a "mini-pc" onto a GPU sized PCI-E card.

do some mental gymnastics, and instead of it just being a mini-pc, it's some epic not-GPU card that does stuff in the pcie.
Right, I get that.

So this is a way to get more CPUs into a PC essentially right? What is the benifit to doing it this way vs having server racks or a multi socket motherboard? Just easier to setup?

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by UltraMega View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by skupples View Post
well, from what I see... They've essentially built what would equate to a "mini-pc" onto a GPU sized PCI-E card.

do some mental gymnastics, and instead of it just being a mini-pc, it's some epic not-GPU card that does stuff in the pcie.
Right, I get that.

So this is a way to get more CPUs into a PC essentially right? What is the benifit to doing it this way vs having server racks or a multi socket motherboard? Just easier to setup?
https://www.anandtech.com/show/14467...puting-systems

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 03:51 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by WannaBeOCer View Post
Sooo… it's just a little easier to setup and a little more compact if I read that correctly, and basically that's it? Am I missing something? Seems like too small of a market to even bother.

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