ACER BUILDING POWERPC/PENTIUM-SWAPPABLE PCS
Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer is designing machines with
swappable processor boards that will allow PowerPC, Pentium and
perhaps other processors to be swapped into same machine. UK
marketing manager David Tanner told PowerPC News that the company
should have the motherboard ready during the next quarter, and a
range of swappable processor daughter-boards will follow in the third
quarter this year. Tanner says that the company has yet to decide how
the new machines will be marketed: both OEM and end-user options are
still available. Likewise cost of manufacture and preliminary pricing
has yet to be pinned down.
Until now most PC manufacturers, including IBM have said that
swappable PowerPC/Pentium boxes would be difficult to produce at
realistic prices, however Tanner characterises the problems as
"fairly trivial, to be honest". He points to the company's ability to
design and manufacture its own application specific integrated
circuits (ASICs) as one factor which will help Acer along. Moreover
the company is apparently aiming at PReP compliance. A population of
PReP-compliant machine that can have Pentiums slotted in would,
paradoxically, be a blessing for the PowerPC industry. Currently,
betting on PowerPC requires a major commitment from a manufacturer,
while the ability to build a single chassis with support for
alternative processors would lower the stakes.
So who will end up buying these boxes? "I think the answer is that we
don't know" Tanner admits, likening the move to Acer's initial
adoption of Windows NT - ship it and see who buys it.
*Meanwhile Zenith Data Systems, owned by Compagne des Machines Bull
says that it has PowerPC laptops at the "very early" design stage.