The upcoming Intel Compute Card is basically a computer stuffed into a case that’s not much larger than a credit card. Intel unveiled the platform at the Consumer Electronics Show this month, and says when the first Compute Cards launch later this year, they’ll be able to power all sort of smart devices.

Want to make a smart refrigerator or smart TV? Instead of building in a processor, memory, storage, and other PC components, you can design around a Compute Card. That was you can use the latest hardware Intel has to offer… and you can allow customers to upgrade to newer hardware in the future by purchasing a new Compute Card.

When I spoke with an Intel representative about the platform, I was told the Compute Card could work in a wide range of devices, but that the company was focusing on all-in-one desktops, smart home appliances, and other Internet-of-Things products at launch… and not on laptops or desktops.

But it turns out one of Intel’s first partners is playing to make an upgradeable laptop that’s powered by a Compute Card.

NexDock ran a crowdfunding campaign last year for a device that lets you use a smartphone like a notebook computer. The NexDock looks like a laptop, but it’s basically just a big screen, keyboard and battery designed to connect to a phone so that you can run your mobile apps on a larger device.

After shipping that first-generation device in 2016, NexDock has announced something new for 2017: a new 2-in-1 PC that features a tablet and a detachable keyboard… and which uses an Intel Compute Card for its brains.

The new NexDock will have a USB Type-C port, an HD (or higher resolution) display, and a built-in kickstand. Like the original NexDock, it doesn’t have a processor, memory, storage, or operating system. Instead, all of those things are on the Intel Compute Card, allowing you to choose the module that best meets your needs (Intel plans to offer a range of Compute Modules, although it’s likely that most will use low-power processors with 6 watt or lower TDPs).

NexDock’s upcoming device isn’t exclusively designed for the Intel Compute Card. You’ll also be able to connect it to a smartphone, Raspberry Pi, or other mini computer much the same way you can with a first-generation NexDock.

Eventually NexDock hopes to launch other devices such as all-in-one desktops that can also be powered by an Intel Compute Card, smartphone, or other devices.

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13 replies on “Intel Compute Card will be the upgradeable brains of 2nd-gen NexDock laptop dock”

  1. Well, waiting patiently for NexDock to get their act together as the idea might be appealing to me with a dock & gear on my desk and a laptop/dock for home & travel.
    But then I heard advice this week that home users should dedicate a (low end) PC that they ONLY use for on-line banking and such and none of the web mail, casual surfing, gaming and social media that they do on their main PC. Keep the risk for malware really low on one and worry less about it on the other, because you do not have the sensitive access on there. A single dock with 2 compute cards, one for secure use and one for everything else, but all in just the space of a single workstation.
    https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnwin16/secure_computers.html#protect
    https://www.ioncomputer.com/ion/body/micropc.cfm

  2. Maybe the next version will have a microSD card reader built in. One can hope…

  3. why not screen?
    screen is very important and small power. look at old REXX 6000
    why this is not like that?

  4. My prediction: several companies start using this in various products. Almost none of them ever put out an update to properly upgrade it as designed.

  5. I still like Superbook (kickstarter) better. My phone is my compute card. Powered by Qualcomm.

  6. its about time, as long as i can connect any OS that i want throw the HDMI connector for screen and usb connector for keyboard and mouse and hub

    great idea, love it
    and if it will be 2 in 1, keyboard as dock, and tablet, that will be bigger idea, as long as i can buy a var of screen sizes, 13.3′ or 14′ or 12.2′ or 10.1′

  7. This is starting to become interesting… With decent linux or android (remix or similar) this could become an interesting option – assuming it’s priced right

  8. Now, if this smartcard allowed for removable storage (maybe it does?)… it could help drive easy alternate OS solutions on laptops, smartphone and other devices. This, however, would seem to go against the lock-in (anti-innovation, anti-competitive) trend we’ve been seeing for far too long.

    1. Nope. Everything’s on the card: the way to upgrade (or even change operating systems) is to swap out cards.

      1. or different cards for different things? One like the above, one for memory, one for operating system? totally modular.

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