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Intel abandons development of modular Compute Cards

Intel abandons development of modular Compute Cards


Intel still believes in modular PCs, but is giving up on this approach

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Image: Intel

Intel has ended further development of the company’s Compute Cards, as confirmed by Tom’s Hardware. The credit-card-sized device contained the fundamental guts of a PC — processor, storage, RAM, wireless modem, etc. — and was meant to make it simple for companies to create docking station-like products that could be upgraded as Intel released new versions. You’d just pop out the old Compute Card and insert the latest hardware. Intel first showcased the device at CES 2017.

But now the Compute Card story will end after just a single generation of Intel’s 7th Gen processors; this modular dream never even made it to its first upgrade hop. “We continue to believe modular computing is a market where there are many opportunities for innovation,” an Intel spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware. “However, as we look at the best way to address this opportunity, we’ve made the decision that we will not develop new Compute Card products moving forward.” Intel says it will continue to sell remaining inventory through the end of this year.

The NexDock was one of the first products to embrace Intel’s Compute Card. But according to Tom’s Hardware, the company behind it might’ve already seen the end coming. “We just found out that the future of Compute Card is uncertain,” Nex Computer wrote in a blog post earlier this week.

Others have also made attempts at this idea: a company called The Hive demonstrated a device it dubbed Amplicity at CES 2015. It featured a similar module, and The Hive came up with a subscription model that would charge customers $99 every six months for the latest hardware upgrade.

But despite its continued public optimism about the core idea, Intel seems to have realized that the Compute Card is not the future of PCs. It’s already easy to regularly upgrade a desktop, but not so much smaller-screened devices or all-in-ones. Oh well.