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i_am_banned

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I find the race to see what can be crammed into the "optibay" of a MacBook Pro rather interesting. This isn't really anything new when it comes to expansion limited Macs, some of us might even remember the PCI slot on 1st revision imacs, or installing PC cards into certain Mac models so as you could boot your Mac into a Windows systems without horrible programs such as VirtualPC.

 

Well now one company has taken this step further and released an ARM cpu that fits in the "optibay" of your MacBook Pro and in theory many other systems out there. The focus of this article is for battery saving purposes e.g. booting up into the cloud using something like Chrome OS to gain access to google docs and work on your office documents if your stuck in a situation where you don't have access to power and are running short on battery charge. However that is just one possible application. The ability to run Chrome, Android OS, possibly even iOS or an ARM based Linux distro sees that there will be multiple possibilities for a device such as this. The downside however is that you give up your optibay and more as likely than not void your warranty.

 

Laptops

CUPP crams ARM inside of a MacBook Pro, makes it run Android with a button press (video)

By Darren Murph posted Feb 14th 2011 8:02PM

Hands-On

CUPP's original prototype wasn't exactly gorgeous, but the premise was sound -- couple an ARM platform with an x86 CPU in order to give consumers the ability to run a desktop OS and a low-power OS such as Chrome OS or Android. It's a tactic that has far-reaching potential. Imagine this: you're on a flight attempting to finish up a document, but you only have ten percent of your battery remaining. On a standard desktop OS (like Window 7 or OS X), that'll get you around 15 to 20 minutes of life; if you were instantly able to sleep that OS after saving your most recent copy on the hard drive, boot up Chrome OS and finish it there, you'd magically have at least an hour of usage time remaining. The fact is that ARM platforms require a fraction of the power that standard x86 systems do, with a demo unit here at MWC proving that a sleeping Windows 7 machine actually consumed more power than a typical ARM system that's running. The company has shown off a beast of a machine before in order to prove that it's concept was legit, but here at Barcelona's mobile extravaganza, it brought something special: a modified MacBook Pro with a TI OMAP-based daughter-board module sitting in place of the optical drive. In theory, a battery similar to that found in the machine above could power an instance of Chrome OS or Android for 20 to 30 hours, just to give you some numbers to nibble on. Care to see how it all panned out? Hop on past the break for a few impressions along with a video.

CUPP's modified MacBook Pro does Android, Ubuntu at MWC 2011

 

Before we dive too deep into impressions, it's important to note that CUPP will actually have a shipping product in Q2 and Q4 of this year. We're getting vibes that one of them may be a daughter-board solution such as the one shown here in the video, where adventurous hackers can purchase a turn-key ARM solution to slap into their existing laptop in order to create something similar. We can't promise it, and we can't even toss a guess out at the price, but we can say that these guys will be going to great lengths to keep it reasonable. The other product is apt to be something in the medical or enterprise field -- a market that's less price sensitive and more demanding, not to mention one that could certainly use something with better battery life. Beyond that, the company's hoping to get its technology into products crafted by other names. In our talks with the CEO, he wouldn't go so far as confirm the names of companies that he's been talking to, but it's not hard to imagine how much more attractive a touchscreen netvertible would be with a more powerful CPU on one side, and an energy-sipping ARM setup on the other.

 

 

The company also has a vision to create a modular, portable system that could be your one and only rig. It'd be roughly UMPC-sized, but with a full-on keyboard that could rival that of a netbook. Good for mobile use, and then when you get it home, slap it into a recessed slot on a tower for use as a desktop. It would definitely make system syncing a thing of the past, and it could very well be an ideal solution for non-power users who simply need a machine that's highly flexible and highly portable. Hit the link below to see just how rapidly the system was able to switch on the hacked-up MacBook Pro, and just imagine something similar coming to your existing laptop. It may only be a dream for a few more months.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/14/cupp-cr...inpage_engadget

Edited by i_am_banned

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That would be awesome :)

Price sensitive, though, I think.

If it's going to retail for much for than $200, it's going to have to be pretty damn amazing :P~

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Their on the right track, but frankly I think we need to (in general) replace the x86 chip with an ARM processor, and use the GPU (or a CPU duaghter board, if you must) if you need some grunt.

 

Also, are they doing anything to actually shut off the rest of the laptop? How does the daughterboard shift it's shit around? I can't help but imagine it's going to be rather costly if it involves physically bypassing everything.

 

Rob.

Edited by robzy

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That's actually a cool idea Rob, an ARM CPU for most day to day tasks, but having a real CPU if you need it as well. Kind of like laptops that have on-board video as well a dedicated GPU. In fact it could be done for desktop PC's as well. The problem really is a lack of software support for ARM CPU's with a desktop OS unless you're planning on running Linux. Both Apple and Microsoft basically have ARM versions of their OS, if you count iOS as a version of OS X, there's just not a lot of support for a desktop version yet.

 

Having used iOS though I can't say I could get used to using it as my primary desktop on a day to day basis, and tend to think it would be a bit hard to use on a day to day basis for my primary machine. In saying that however I'm sure Android/iOS/Chrome will only become better to use on a day basis if products such as this gain popularity.

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I think ARM is too slow for general desktop usage. I don't see it handling much more than basic text editing and web viewing (with only a few tabs).

If you really wanted a hybrid desktop you would be better off with a low power x86 core, such as bobcat and a high power processor, such as bulldozer.

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There's ARM and then there's ARM.

I think Apple have shown what ARM is capable of, with it streaming and decoding 720p in the AppleTV 2. It's just as grunty , if not more, than the Celeron 1Ghz it replaced.

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