Aye, I wanted to created a discussion about the possibility and consumer interest in adding a socketed CPU option for a Librem device (probably as an option for Librem 15, could it fit 13"?).
What is a CPU Socket:
In computer hardware, a CPU socket or CPU slot contains one or more mechanical components providing mechanical and electrical connections between a microprocessor and a printed circuit board (PCB). This allows for placing and replacing the central processing unit (CPU) without soldering.
ThinkPenguin can offer the Penguin T2, because it takes a Clevo base model, adds an Atheros wifi mPCIe card, and installs Linux. Purism has much higher costs than all the other Linux laptop makers, because it takes the reference motherboard and case design from Clevo and then modifies it to manufacture its own motherboards and cases. What this means is that Purism has to sell enough of each model to justify its specialized manufacturing.
The number of people who want a specialty laptop with a socketed desktop CPU that kills battery life is very limited. Add to that the subset of people who want 100% free software, and you get a tiny niche market which is already covered by ThinkPenguin. Add to that the tiny subset who are willing to pay a premium for hardware kill switches and a TPM chip, and you might sell 1000 of these laptops per year at most. There is no way that Purism can justify specialized manufacturing for that tiny number.
Most laptops with socketed CPUs are designed either for gaming or for workstations. Most gamers frankly aren’t interested in free software, since so many of the games that they want to play aren’t free software. The type of people who want maximum graphics power generally aren’t too concerned about free software either, since most of them buy nVidia graphics cards that a require proprietary Linux driver. Most of the people who need mobile workstations have figured out that they can buy a barebones model from Clevo or MSI, then add their own CPU, RAM and SSD for cheaper than a niche company like Purism, so they will build their own.
Good to hear from a Purism employee that I’m wrong. I assumed that based off the fact that virtually every other manufacturer of new Linux x86 laptops (ThinkPenguin, System76, Station-X, Tuxedo Computers and Slimbook) uses Clevo and this post by jjakob seemed to confirm it:
Could the closeness between the Clevo and Purism designs be caused by both using the same Intel reference design?
there’s a lot of “sharing” between Chinese ODMs, so hard to say exactly where a specific design came from first. All I can say is that I know with 100% certainty that our board designs come from an ODM completely unaffiliated with Clevo (unlike say S76, who will have Clevo make small changes for them, some of which end up back in the mass-produced model).