iSYS Xi3 Chromium Chrome: First Chrome OS Lifesized Modular Desktop

ChromiumPC the shiniest of shines and the name of the first ever Google Chrome OS based desktop computer. iSYS Technologies and Xi3 Corporation have teamed up to release a flexible and impressively hip looking compact computer. Using a very clever modular design Xi3 have managed to fit an impressive amount of computing power into this coke can sized computer. Then just to make it catch your eye they made it out of Billet Aluminium and Chrome.

More than just a PC the Chromium represents a new PC architecture as well as a new software architecture in Chrome OS. This is a small shiny PC with a leading edge punch. Using a modular design the PC’s internals are spit into three daughter boards that are upgradable. The layout of the modules helps with keeping temps down inside. It sounds logical but the smaller internal space in a computers case the easier it is to keep cool, small spaces collect heat very fast. The three modules that make up Chromium are the Processor Module, the Primary I/O Module and Secondary I/O Module. Each of the modules are upgradeable as new technology is released.

The Chrome OS that comes installed as standard is an interesting beast in itself. The first real operating system that is integrated with the clouds – cloud computing that is -. Chrome makes heavy use of Google’s online applications and tries to do as much work as possible online. That’s the theory anyway, you can just run Windows and normal apps just as easily on Chromium. The ChomeOS based laptops from Samsung and Acre will be out July 3rd, beating the Xi3 to market but the Xi3 should still be the first desktop to market when released on July 4. Obviously Google already had plans on July 3.

Chromium PC, rear panel.

Not that you are locked into Chrome, other options include a half a dozen flavors of Windows 7, Linusx Suse and Embedded Windows 7. Options on the website are a plenty for hardware as well, a little surprising for such a compact machine. Options for the CPU’s at the moment are the all low power AMD CPU’s – 3400e X2 dual core at 1.8Ghz, AMD 3100 2Ghz single core and the ultra low power AMD X2 2000. Xi3 is working on Intel based modules at the moment and modules for ARM cpu’s and other exotics are possible. Hard drive, monitors and keyboard/mouse options are all covered.

Other clever add-ons for the Xi3 include mounting brackets for wall mounting, customized paint work and the crafty Z3RO Module. Also called a processor extender the Z3RO allows you to run up to 4 workstations for four users, on the one Xi3. Each workstation needs its own Z3RO Module – starting at $250 per seat – but the cost’s reduction with 4 users running off the one machine are huge and large corporations will take advantage of technology such as this. The specs for this model state the dual core cpu as a requirement, obviously there is some impact on performance with 4 people using a single system but a quick dual core should negate this impact to an extent.

The systems total power usage is ridiculously low 30watts, part of the secrets for dealing with heat in small spaces. 30 watts also makes this a very green computer, with only Atom based netbooks using less power.

Along with the usual assortment of inputs and outputs integrated into the back panel of the Chromium Xi3 has included the Xm3dia™ (x media) plug, exclusive to the Xi3. There is very little technical information regarding this mystery interface other than it’s a feature rich bus offering limitless expansion according to Xi3’s website. Traditionally this is the kind of bus interface used by media devices to connect expansion devices such as TV Tuners and PVR’s.

The pricing for the top spec Xi3 is $1,387.00 US when ordering from the website. For that you get a copy of Windows 7 Home, 128Gb SSD hard drive, Chrome finish and AMD 3400E dual core cpu. The basic setup drives the price down to $849.

The Xi3 is nicely packaged day to day desktop machine capable of doing double duty as a media center or light duties desktop. The Xi3’s good looks lets it get away with going into new territory, a computer on the mantel piece, Xi3 could do it. If there was an award for the most striking looking PC the Xi3 would win it.

ChromiumPM CPU Options and System Specifications

The CPU Options Include

  • Standard -Athlon Dual Core 3400E 22W – 2G DDR2
  • Less $50- Athlon 3100 2.0GHz 25W – 2G DDR2 (Z3RO Modules require a Dual Core processor)
  • Less $40- Athlon 2000+ 8W – 2G DDR2 (Z3RO Modules require a Dual Core processor)

The systems specs:
Primary I/O Module (Module No. PIO-5A-M62)

  • eSATA 3.0, 2.5 and 1.5 support
  • USB 2.0 support
  • PMC Optical Interface
  • SSD Quick Boot (Linux or Windows)

External Connectors:

  • 2 – eSATA 2.5 Ports
  • 6 – USB 2.0 Ports (root hubs)
  • 3 – Reconfigurable Audio channels
  • (1-3, Microphone, Headphone and/or
  • Line-in/Line-out)

Internal Connectors:

  • 1 – USB 2.0 Connector
  • 1 – Fan Connector

Secondary I/O Module (Module No. SIO-5A-G20)

  • DirectX Support: DX11
  • Open GL: v2.0
  • Video Decode: UVD 2.0 – VC-1, MPEG2, MPEG4
  • HDCP: v1.3b (up to 1080p)
  • Side-Port Memory: 128MB (DDR2-800)
  • DP/DVI: 1080p, with Digital Audio (HDMI optional)
  • Max Resolution: 2560×1600 @ 32bpp (dual output capable)
  • Dual Display Standard: DVI-DL + VGA, DVI-DL + DP,
  • VGA + DP (HDMI converter optional)

External Connectors:

  • 1 – Ethernet connector (10/100/1000)
  • 1 – Display port (DP/DVI, HDMI optional)
  • 1 – Display port (DVI-DL + VGA, DVI-DL + DP, VGA + DP)
  • 1 – Power connector (19volts DC @ 3.42amps)

External Size: 4.0- x 3.656- x 3.656-inches
Integrated Power Management Controller
Operating Temp. 32F – 140F
Non-Operating Temp. -4F – 158F
Elevation ≤ 10,000 Ft
Phoenix Legacy BIOS
Warranty 3-year Advance Replace (parts)

Xi3’s Website and ChromiumPC Options page.

Buddha’s Brother out.…