Hardware reusability

While CPU/RAM and storage keep getting obsolete faster than ever, The display, touchpad, keyboard, and the audio(speakers) etc. and IO standards generally linger around much longer. Instead of wasting the complete 1 to 3 kg hardware just because a 20gm cpu went obsolete, I was wondering if the hardware could be built to be easily reusable.

There are already devices that address these issues in various ways. They generally separate the compute module from the terminal in various ways. Motorola Atrix, Asus Padfone , Nexdock, Kangaqroo Notebook, etc.

While most of them are a step in the right direction, What I want is a laptop, tablet, and a dock like "Terminal"s and a “compute module” which is essentially the mainboard with CPU,GPU, audio card, RAM, SDD and a tiny battery of its own (for hotswapping). The compute module and a laptop “terminal” connect over standard interfaces like HDMI + USBC (For Power, keyboard, touchpad and camera) or an MHL Port . This gives two advantages:

  1. Easy future upgradability: Just buy new computer module!
  2. Hotswap from one hardware to another! Want to continue editing that photo more accurately? Switch the compute module from laptop teminal to the tablet terminal which has a wacom interface. Switch back to desktop because you want to do a long night’s programming and want to have a correct posture. All this without breaking the DLNA/Miracast streaming to the TV for your cousin to watch old episodes of Game of thrones. Then switch to simple charging dock for the night.
  3. Maintain multiple Compute modules for office. gaming and personal work - if you want to really keep them separate, while having only one or two terminals.
  4. Use Terminals for other hacking - As they use standard interfaces, you can have a “dummy” compute module that just provides connectors to these interfaces - then just use it with your raspberry pi, playstation , Android stick. camera. or whatever.
  5. Keep doing 4) even when the compute module is too old.

Do you have any plans for anything like that?

Replace compute module with Librem 5 (and terminal with LibremShell), and i have proposed something very similar:

Basically, put your phone into the laptop-shell and use it as a laptop.
The Librem 5 is already designed to be turned into a workstation (convergence), via USB-C.
See Librem 5 overview, scroll down to “The hardware”.
I think that would be the first step. Or, actually the second, after the Librem 5 became reality :wink:

This is much simpler to achieve, as the compute module is (will be) already there, and the shell is mostly just a regular laptop minus mainboard.

After that, on the path to world domination, modularized phone (like Fairphone) and extra-powerful compute-modules could follow. Or the hardware-keyboard for the Librem 5 some are hoping for. Or, how about extending the Librem 5 like the Nintendo Plus phone concept? Just dreaming :wink:

Wow! Very close to what I want. I am happy to see there are more people who feel the need. The biggest problem with earlier attempts by previous vendors is that the connectors were all propreitory even if some of the interfaces itself were standard. That made re-usability unfeasible to most people especially non-hackers. What I want to stress is re-usability more than anything else - imagine a laptop like dock/terminal that can be used in places where the original designer did not even dream of! … Like a server room. Because what I defined above in my post mentions the ability of including a “fake compute module with standard connectors” like hdmi and usb, you could use the terminal on a server of a server rack. Just plug in the hdmi and usb in and you are good to go! You cannot do this with a Motorola Atrix or Asus Padfone unless you hack it. I must be able to get a Librem Terminal and use it even If I don’t have a compute module. Want to quickly debug your Paralella Rack ? Don’t want to connect Over Network? Want to quickly connect to your play station or a satellite reciever when the TV is in use? No Problem… Librem Terminal should help you in that moment.

I already know such hardware exists. What I want is Purism should not do the same mistakes as they did.

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