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Thoughts about motherboard design

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Henry Rollins II

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Today when we wish to buy a new cpu and/or memory we need to buy a new motherboard also.

wouldn´t it be smarter if the motherboard actually just would be a backplate, with the memory and cpu in slots also? The memory controller could be placed on the memory expansion card so it wont matter wich RAM you use. A cpu card wich also holds the chipset.

All power circuits and slots would be on the backplate.
 

Molybdym

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Unfortunately, we here on this forum, and other's like it are a small segment of the population of computer users. Sure your motherboard backplate makes sense to me and you(and like a few hundred thousand) But, alas, a dream it shall be(i think ;) )
 

macklin01

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Hmm, that would make RAM very expensive, if each stick needed its own controller. Maybe you meant that the north and southbridges would be upgradeable in sockets as well?

This is a very interesting idea, but I wonder just how expandable a system woudl actually be. I can't imagine using a general PCB from mid-90's, for example, with current transfer rates. (It's funny -- the really look like dionsaurs right now with their large circuitry, etc.) The backplane woudl have to be engineered to sustain transfer rates much beyond the current transfer rates, whcih I woudl think woudl also make that component quite expensive.

Just $.02. ;) But a very interesting idea! -- Paul
 

Captain Slug

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This wouldn't be feasible in a large sense due to the fact that it would require alot more space and each new chipset is routed differently between all of the different controllers, CPU, Memory, and AGP.

But I do see where you aggravation is, and it's prefectly valid. I don't think the extra cost would ctually validate the reason for doing so, since it would complicate the manufacturing process and would make industry standards less flexible.
 
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macklin01

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Well-said!

One of the recent innovations I found interesting was rotating the northbridge by 45 degrees so that the traces were closer to the socket and memory, respectively, cutting down on signal noise and increasing performance.

Such innovations wouldn't be possible on a backplane format, for example.

But definitely a real aggravation! -- Paul
 

Captain Slug

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Oh yeah. And increasing the length for the signals to travel between the AGP, CPU, Chipset, and Memory will cause a number of problems in latency and will probably make the system either less stable or it will eat off 5% of your performance...

And I just realized that mounting all of these expansion modules would be a bit of a nightmare...
 

macklin01

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There are definitely issues ... :eek:

Cap'n, I like your rank. I think it's just about right! :D -- Paul
 

Captain Slug

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To reference and compare...

Current computers that use backplanes are actually a number of small independant computers that simply use the backplane to coordinate calculating power. Each backplane slot holds a complete system with chipset, memory, processor, LAN, IDE, Video, and sometimes a powerful secondary graphics engine.
Backplane machines are only meant for mass-calculating on a large scale and are used for mass rendering, real-time simulation, CAD and engineering, assembly line management, and some other oddball expensive applications.

macklin01 said:
Cap'n, I like your rank. I think it's just about right! :D -- Paul
Hehehehe
I've certainly been trying very hard to earn it. The only other rank I could have would be "Member with the most free time"
 

Fess_ter

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Henry Rollins II said:
Today when we wish to buy a new cpu and/or memory we need to buy a new motherboard also.

wouldn´t it be smarter if the motherboard actually just would be a backplate, with the memory and cpu in slots also? The memory controller could be placed on the memory expansion card so it wont matter wich RAM you use. A cpu card wich also holds the chipset.

All power circuits and slots would be on the backplate.

Sort of been done before.

AST, don't know if they are still around, built 486/33 systems that had mem on a riser and i think the cpu on a riser. They used those extented ISA slots (VESA slots?)
 

Captain Slug

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Re: Re: Thoughts about motherboard design

Fess_ter said:
Sort of been done before.

AST, don't know if they are still around, built 486/33 systems that had mem on a riser and i think the cpu on a riser. They used those extented ISA slots (VESA slots?)

Yeah. The first NLX and IPX have long expansion slots for memory, ISA, and PCI. NLX and similar configurations went the way of the Dodo after Socket 370 processors started arriving.
 
OP
Henry Rollins II

Henry Rollins II

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Grrr :mad: I wrote a long piece here and it was lost when I hit "submit reply". I should have used the copy function.

Shorter version now:

Yah maybe I was making this too complex.

However there are still backplane computers being produced. There are socket-A, fcpga2, Xeon4, dual fcpga and socket 478 single board computers, intented for use with passive back plane.

If these backplanes were smaller, say in ATX size or so, and had an AGP port it should be the same as any other PC. If there isnt too much extra options such as video or sound onboard, there should be room enough on a full-lenght card. Case and power connectors could be placed on the back plane.

This would mean that if you want a new mobo, cpu and ram all you have to do is pull a card.
 

macklin01

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Ah. So memory, CPU, etc. aren't separate cards? So, if you want to change the memory-CPU comm., just change the board design? Hmm, now that's interesting .... -- Paul
 

Ugmore Baggage

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Feb 12, 2002
As far as I can see, the mobo is just about the cheapest part of upgrading. A decent amount of ram costs more. An up to date CPU costs twice as much.

Most people never upgrade their computers beyond maybe adding RAM or a CD writer. I'd guess the average voluntary replacement age is over 5 years -- although many probably die first.

In terms of practicality, there's much more to a motherboard than meets the eye. You can't just pop a KT266 out and a 333 in, no matter how clever you are with a soldering iron.
 

Namagomi

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Henry Rollins II said:
Today when we wish to buy a new cpu and/or memory we need to buy a new motherboard also.

wouldn´t it be smarter if the motherboard actually just would be a backplate, with the memory and cpu in slots also? The memory controller could be placed on the memory expansion card so it wont matter wich RAM you use. A cpu card wich also holds the chipset.

All power circuits and slots would be on the backplate.

Yeah, that couldn't case any stability issues. Oh. Wait.

Just more to different mobos than chipset, big guy. Entire architectures would have to be changed. Sad fact is, your idea just wouldn't work. There is more to a new motherboard that just a few chips; voltage regulators, capacators, and pin count all change along with chipset.
 

Captain Slug

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Henry Rollins II said:
Grrr :mad: I wrote a long piece here and it was lost when I hit "submit reply". I should have used the copy function.

Shorter version now:

Yah maybe I was making this too complex.

However there are still backplane computers being produced. There are socket-A, fcpga2, Xeon4, dual fcpga and socket 478 single board computers, intented for use with passive back plane.

If these backplanes were smaller, say in ATX size or so, and had an AGP port it should be the same as any other PC. If there isnt too much extra options such as video or sound onboard, there should be room enough on a full-lenght card. Case and power connectors could be placed on the back plane.

This would mean that if you want a new mobo, cpu and ram all you have to do is pull a card.
Then where would the savings be? SBCs require heavy integration and are essentialy just compressed motherboards that have more PCB layers. This might also introduce issues with supporting heavier heatsinks on an expansion card.
Henry Rollins II said:
Why cant you guys follow the thread before you write a reply?
Ugmore and Nam have a problem with reading everyones replies.
 

Blueacid

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macklin01 said:
One of the recent innovations I found interesting was rotating the northbridge by 45 degrees so that the traces were closer to the socket and memory, respectively, cutting down on signal noise and increasing performance.

Such innovations wouldn't be possible on a backplane format, for example.

But definitely a real aggravation! -- Paul

How long ago is recent? My MSI k7t-TURBO has the 45degree Northbridge... its now at least a year and a half old.

Need to upgrade it really :(
 

macklin01

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I realize that "recent" in computerland means 30 days, but come on, let's get back to reality here. A year and a half is not all that much time in the grand scheme of things.

And my PIII setup outperforms many P4's and athlons at much lower sound levels and power consumption levels, so no upgrade necessary, thankyouverymuch. :mad:

*EDIT* And this is probably the first angry post you'll find from me in 1800 posts or so ...
 

Tbird man

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i really dont see the praticality. when you upgrade a mobo, what you are mostly paying for is the chipset and other things. so this way, if you want to upgrade, you by a $100-$200 card, instead of a $50-$150 dollar board. also advancements such as PCI-X and onboard serial ATA would be much more difficult.
 

macklin01

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I think that's a really good way to look at it. If mobo's cost more than $50-$150 on average, then perhaps it might be another story, but on today's motherboard, the price packs a lot of punch, especially with oboard sound/video/LAN/modem/USB-type features. -- Paul