Intel shows off monitor PC form factor

Best idea of Computex, new and sorely needed

PROBABLY THE SINGLE most important thing to come from Computex is not a product, but the promise of a new standard. The best idea of the show award goes to Intel for kick starting the idea of a standard PC in monitor form factor.

All-in-One (AIO) machines are nothing new, they have been around since the Monorail. This clunky box had a Pentium in the 100MHz range, was horribly expensive because flat panes were cost competitive with cars back then, and generally made more headlines than sales.

The concept was sound though, and a brief look around Computex shows that every computer maker worthy of the name has a few on display. There are all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and form factors, but the guts have one common thread, they are all different. In this case, different means expensive.

What most people don’t understand is making a computer is hard, you have to engineer everything from the mobo to the power button, and hope the holes match up when you get the parts back from the subcontractors.

If you use standard parts, the holes do line up, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you change a screw. That is why standards are so effective, having 7 vendors making a mobo that will fit an ATX case saves you the cost of having to engineer a new mobo for every new computer you design. You can not only mix and match, but have far more options to choose from at a lower cost.

If you go your own route, things get very spendy in a hurry. If it costs you $1000 in tooling costs to make a knob, selling 1000 units will add $1 to the cost of that knob. If you buy ATX standard knob #7, it will likely cost you $.07 from any of 31 vendors fighting for your business. Multiply this by every sub-component in the computer, and you can see why almost no company deviates from standards.

Getting back to AIO PCs, the problem is simple, the market is growing fast, but there is no standard to guide vendors or save money. This is a gaping hole that is hamstringing the nascent TV PC market.

Back of the monitor form factor

Guess who is pushing this standard?

Enter Intel. As they do every so often, they are playing 800 pound gorilla and pushing the market toward a standard back of monitor form factor. Since it was just announced, there are no specs yet, but given the money at stake, things will probably progress very quickly.

Just add screen

The front side, there will be a screen here

In the end, we will likely have several form factors to support large and small panels, as well as a range of power requirements for the PC. No longer will Dell have to basically design a laptop in order to make an AIO PC, they can just pick parts from a catalog and put engineering time in where it matters.

Happy exec and prototype

Standards make execs happy!

If you don’t think this is exciting, you are obviously not an Intel exec, as you can see, it makes them positively giddy. For the OEM, it means vastly lower costs, more choices, and faster time to market. For the end user, it means cheaper AIO PCs that cost less and have more options.

As long as Intel does not pull another USB3.0 here, and I doubt they will, this spec will be a huge boon to the industry. For that, they unquestionably deserve the best of new idea of Computex.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate