The Chrome OS avalanche looks to be gaining momentum, with modular computer manufacturer Xi3 announcing a desktop computer addition to the mobile solutions announced by Samsung and Acer earlier in the month. Set to be a new flavor of the company's soon-to-be-generally-available, CES 2011 Innovations Award-winning modular computer range, the cube-like, low power ChromiumPC will be available with single- or dual-core processors and will benefit from a host of new input/output (I/O) modules currently being developed by the Xi3 Corporation and its partners.
The Xi3 Corporation first announced its intention to offer a desktop computer running on the Chrome OS almost as soon as Google had taken the covers off its cloud-dependent operating system in 2009. Laying claims to be the first of its kind, the ChromiumPC modular computer will - like its modular siblings - contain three interconnected boards which together form what can otherwise be thought of as a motherboard.
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A processor module with built-in system memory is joined by a primary I/O module housing the vast majority of external communications ports and a secondary I/O module which is generally used to cater for video, ethernet and power connections. Any of the modules can be swapped out to change the system parameters and functionality or upgrade components, without having to replace the whole kit and kaboodle.
"Although we've been promoting, discussing and working on modular computers for some time, we feel the market is now ready for a desktop computer with a cloud-based operating system like the one offered by Google," says the company's Jason A Sullivan. "If someone chooses to switch their ChromiumPC to run a different operating system, it's as easy as swapping out one of the three boards inside the computer."
The Xi3 Coporation has announced plans to bring a new batch of I/O modules to its Xi3 modular system, further extending current functionality. Third party modules have also entered into development and all of the new modules will work with existing Xi3 systems, as well as the new ChromiumPC.
The 4 x 3.656 x 3.656-inch (101.6 x 92.8 x 92.8 mm) ChromiumPC is expected to be powered by either single- or dual-core x86-based, 64-bit processors, benefit from a low 20W power draw and come in various colors, including an appropriate chrome-plated option.
General availability of the Xi3 Modular Computer system has been penciled in for American Independence Day on July 4, with the ChromiumPC flavor scheduled for the second half of the year at a yet-to-be-confirmed price.