Modular Motherboard? An April Fools' Joke With Actual Promise

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jimmysmitty

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While interesting this would be very hard. Problem is the pinouts for Intel and AMD are different as are what they support on chip vs on chipset. If you wanted to switch from Intel to AMD or vice versa you would also have to swap out most of the other modular parts to get it to properly work.

Would be cool though just very hard.
 

gggplaya

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Bios wouldn't have to be swapped out. Bios manufacturers would simply need to implement code for either case and have autodetection to implement the correct code.

The modular motherboard will have other challenges in performance and bandwidth. Seperating everything into modular peices will introduce noise and more latency. You won't be able to clock things as high and the motherboard will be slower.
 

IInuyasha74

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Like gggplaya said, the BIOS wouldn't need changed really, but things would be different. It would need some serious UEFI BIOS innovation to make it able to autodetect all the different hardware components. Essentially what they would do is make a primary BIOS on the same slice as the chipset, and then they would put simpler chips containing universal firmware information on all of the other slices. The primary BIOS would need to load and configure it all, but it is very possible.

@gggplaya: It wouldn't hamper performance or bandwidth at all. Nearly all of the connections already exist as hard wires, they would just need to put a break in the wire, and then have the base slice complete the connection. It would work exactly the same as current motherboards in that way. It also wouldn't have any effect on clock speed at all. There might be slightly higher latency because of the firmware changes that need made, but it is doubtful that it would have any significant impact.
 

The Wizzard

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What you're almost describing is PICMG:
https://www.picmg.org/openstandards/shb-express/

It's a modular CPU carrier which connects to a backplane / bus for all PCI/PCIe connections (in PICMG 1.3). It's capable of full or half size (roughly eATX width, to ITX width) and doing a "platform" upgrade only consists of swapping one card for another. Basic I/O could easily be migrated to the carrier board via PCIe.

I doubt you'll see modular RAM carrier sockets in the consumer world, but they do exist for servers for sure.
 

InvalidError

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In the 90s, I think it was Gateway which actually had a modular motherboard: the top half holding the CPU socket, chipset, rear IOs, memory, cache, BIOS and a few other things, the other part providing all of the IOs over PCI and power.
 

WilsonJonathan

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Just remember old days where even CPUs were expansion cards.
Actually IBM's POWER systems (even the most modern 8's) do use daughter cards for the CPU's, something they kept from the AS/400's design when they moved from CISC (48 bit) to RISC (64 bit) and started re-using, and consolidating, components for the AIX and AS/400 systems into one standardised hardware machine.
The intention was also to have the 370 (i think it was called) mainframe also moved over to the same basic sets of mix and match components so one huge product line could all use standardised modular components - a set of standard back planes, CPU daughter cards, intelligent (additional CPU driven) disk controllers, intelligent power supplies (HMC's, with their own CPU's) that even if the computer didn't boot would tell you what had failed, where, and why - back when PC's were using bios beeps and the 486 was the new kid on the block).
 

Gam3r01

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While this is an interesting concept (one I havent even thought of previously) it would cost vastly more than two (or more) motherboards would. It would be much cheaper just to swap boards than portions of a single board.
 

voodoobunny

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Keep the CPU and memory sockets on a single board - yes, it ties the two together, but it would reduce the complexity significantly. Also, could you use some kind of extended PCIe structure to tie the boards together? Maybe give each of the daughterboards like PCIe, SATA and Rear I/O a specific number of PCIe lanes and make them responsible for managing the bandwidth to the individual components onboard? Alternatively, hang the Rear IO board off the PCIe board, and let the PCIe board control how many lanes pass through to the rear IO.
 

turkey3_scratch

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It'd be cool if there was more stuff like this. Customize your GPU (VRM, backplate, types of fans, etc.) - though that would probably be something you'd customize online rather than yourself, at least the VRM.
 

snow_lightning

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I'd much rather just have a custom mobo printed as a one-off than try to make a modular setup. Manufacturers are always split on what to put on which of their product lines, trying to anticipate consumer demand (and sometimes making some on the backend by including particular connections) and future-proofing. Some people just want the bare essentials for a home internet browsing experience, some people do advanced rendering, others do audio mixing, still others use theirs as home servers and media centers, scientific research is often conducted with off-the-self parts comprising the base computer, and, like myself, many are dedicated online gamers seeking highest fps and lowest latency and heat. Maybe I don't have any apple products so I don't need ports for them. Maybe I don't use external hard drives or expensive DSR cameras that require special ports for high speed transfers. But I like to overclock so I'd like to have components that are of very high quality and the right inherent design to supply power levelly. I'd love to do a quad-sli but it seems like a waste without 64 pci-x lanes, plus I want to use dual m.2 ssds in raid 0, or how about 4x m.2 ssds in a raid 1+0, now I need at least 72 or 80 lanes for full uncompromising bandwidth and lowest latency. I'll keep dreaming, rant over.
 

IInuyasha74

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Made to order GPUs would be a neat concept. For modifying it at home, there were quite a few GPUs in the 1990s that you could install extra RAM on, sort of like how you put more RAM in a laptop. I wouldn't mind seeing this happen to GPUs again.
 

jimmysmitty

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I remember seeing them, tried to find one on Google but couldn't. If I remember they had slots sort of like a SODIMM but made for other types. However while looking I did find this:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/1916/6

Or how about the S478 to S479 adaptor to allow the use of the first Core based CPUs like the Pentium M?

We will always see ideas like this but most are either super expensive or too hard to implement.
 

iam2thecrowe

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Of course it's possible, its called "expansion slots"......

Don't see the point of different cpu archs there would be too many differences it would just make boards more expensive.

Back in the day of 286/386 everything was a separate board. Hdd controllers, serial/paralell controllers etc. We moved away from all this as components got smaller, we don't need to go back. You can still install a pcie sata/raid controller for extra ports if you want, even ps2/serial/parallel boards are available still. And again back in the day, your socket 7 motherboard could support IBM, VIA, Intel and AMD cpus!
 


Made to order GPUs would be a neat concept. For modifying it at home, there were quite a few GPUs in the 1990s that you could install extra RAM on, sort of like how you put more RAM in a laptop. I wouldn't mind seeing this happen to GPUs again.
I still have one of these , had no Idea they were worth $50 now. With the extra memory chips in the sockets.
http://www.recycledgoods.com/diamond-23020039-203-speedstar-64-isa-video-card.html
And one of these ,along with a lot of older hardware such as 2p Pentium2 350 server.
http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-sound-blaster-20-and-cms-upgrade.html
I have the 1991 model of the CT1350b.
Those were the days of setting everything up by jumpers,IRQ,DMA , upgrading socketed chips, setting FSB, multiplyer by jumpers, which made overclocking fairly easy.
 

anathema_forever

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I guess in my basic idea of this is just a mostly empty board with a ton of PCIE4.0 type lanes and connectors on it. Which I kind of like but it would only really be practical for system builders, most people already can't build their own PC's and this would make it much worse.
 

iam2thecrowe

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You'd be going back in time, when PC's used to have a bunch of ISA or PCI + ISA slots, for all the options. It would just cost everyone more.

You used to be able to even upgrade the L2 cache which resided on the motherboard.
 

IInuyasha74

Splendid
Moderator
I actually have one as well. The Matrox Millenium G200:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matrox_Millennium_G200.jpg

Wiki had a pic of it. No idea if it works or not though, and haven't been able to find the RAM chip for it.

A modular motherboard may be hard to implement, but we also shouldn't forget that companies are designing modular smartphones now. Radically different devices, but it helps to show you can make just about anything modular if you try.
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/project-ara-red-flags,29905.html
 
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