Saturday, February 21, 2015

Modular Computers: stick to the mobile generation

While projects like Motorola Ara and PhoneBlocks are aiming at bringing modular computing and hardware upgrades to mobile devices, many are also looking for easy upgrades for their laptops and desktops. The good news is, you can always do that via traditional means (open the computer and replace parts) if you have a compatible device that allows for removal of hardware components. Otherwise, don't expect for there to be any considerable hardware processing upgrades available via USB; that won't be around for a while...

Consider the following, from Wikipedia:

"Wireless USB is a short-range, high-bandwidth wireless radio communication protocol created by the Wireless USB Promoter Group... Wireless USB was based on the (now defunct) WiMedia Alliance's ultra-wideband (UWB) common radio platform, which is capable of sending 480 Mbit/s at distances up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) and 110 Mbit/s at up to 10 metres (33 ft). It was designed to operate in the 3.1 to 10.6 GHz frequency range, although local regulatory policies may restrict the legal operating range for any given country."

Comparison of digital RF systems
Wireless USB vs. 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth

Can be found here: Wikipedia Article (table)

As it stands for most modern USB transfer devices, they can't transfer data fast enough to keep up with modern read/write speeds of most modern processors. They run in the MHz range usually, and around 2.4-3 is the stretch; even for USB 3.0. at this rate, Wireless USB doesn't seem to raise the height ceiling for this need for speed. Therefore, we are far from creating USB-contained coprocessors that can positively impact the host machine's computational performance.

Most modern processors run in the GHz range, and therefore would not be able to be used over USB3.0, or wireless USB (up-and-coming standard). The next step would be to make the processor a self-comtained computing device instead of attempting to add computing power to a host machine. In other words, make the USB BECOME the host machine.

Who knows; in the future, there could be a 'quantum leap' in the area of read/write and overall processing speeds for periphials that allows for modular processing components. 'Till then, please refrain from trying to overclock your USB drives. You'll just end up with a smoking USB port and a face that speaks volumes in terms of anger, to say the very least.

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