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ICE xPC - A Modular Computer as Small as Your Phone

A modular PC that fits in your pocket, the ICE xPC™ is flexible intelligence for a pad, notebook, or desktop—when and where you need it.


A Modular, Pocket PC

The ICE xPC™ modular computer is as small as your phone but with the processing power of a portable or desktop computer. Why leave your computer at home or drag around a heavy, bulky laptop? The xPC weighs less than 100g (4oz) and transforms into the intelligent core of a pad, notebook, desktop, or gaming device when and where you want it to. 

Smartphone sized xPC With the Processing Power Of a Portable or Desktop Computer

No More Heavy and Bulky Laptop. Just Pocket the xPC and Use it At Office or Home, or Even On the Road

Built for Performance

The xPC’s architecture leverages customary PC components to easily accommodate the latest Microsoft Windows® and other operating systems, multitask like a laptop, and execute Microsoft applications. The few smartphones that offer similar functionality generally have distinct performance issues when running Windows and Microsoft applications.

    Typical xPC components include:
    • A compact, high-performance motherboard
    • Latest x86 CPU/chipset
    • 2-4G RAM
    • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module
    • Bluetooth module
    • Camera
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyro sensor
    • 32–128G SSD

    The New Ecosystem

    Our fresh perspective on the computing ecosystem makes it as easy to build your environment—and as personal—as playing with Legos. And, this modular concept is cost-effective, allowing you to change or upgrade your computing components at any time.

    We’ve separated the traditional, integrated architecture of the PC into key components: the processor, data storage, display, keyboard, and peripherals. This design concept facilitates dynamic plug-and-play of ICE processors and all peripherals through matched connectors.

    At the heart of the design concept is the xPC (processor). The xPC drives everything, and you can easily assemble, or upgrade. No need for tools or technical knowledge. And no need to replace your entire PC!

    ICE Modular Computer

    ICE Modular Computer Product Family. This Project is for xPC With Latest Intel 4 Cores Atom Processor, xPad, and xAdapter.

    Conceptually, Just Imaging the Entire Computer System is Like a Desktop being Shrunk into a Smartphone Sized xPC, and Its Peripheral Connecters being Transformed into xAdapter. xPC and xAdapter Together Becomes a Mini-PC

    Technically, We Divided Traditional Single Motherboard into a Much Smaller Core Motherboard as xPC, and a Peripheral Motherboard (From Shaded Areas) as xAdapter Which Will Connect to Any Type of Displays Support HDMI Interface

    Experience the Convenience

    ICE xPC is one device for all uses:

    • As you move around, all your processing power is with you
    • No need of account synchronization
    • Everything else is just display/input devices

    ICE xPC delivers an entirely new experience by connecting you everywhere, at any time:

    • On the road.  Turn your xPC into a tablet computer.
    • In the office.  Your xPC transforms into a mini desktop workstation.
    • At home.  Power your online gaming, HDTV, online entertainment…  the list goes on.

    Simply Plug and Play xPC with ICE Peripherals to Create the Tablet, Mini-PC or Set-up-Box Device That You Need

    Dynamic and Easy Upgrade With Different Cores

    Dock xPC into xAdapter (That Connected to a Display) to Create the Mini-PC You Need At Office or Home

    Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly

    When it’s time to upgrade your PC you would, traditionally, have to buy an entirely new device. Because there is no component sharing or reuse, an upgrade is expensive and creates e-waste. The ICE xPC is designed with the future, flexibility, and sustainability in mind. Its one-for-all, all-for-one design makes interchanging components easy, thereby facilitating upgrades while minimizing waste.

    To upgrade, you simply purchase a new ICE xPC and plug it into your existing ICE peripherals. This novel, modular computer system can save you time, considerably reduce your expense, and help minimize the long-term environmental impact.

    The ease of upgrading and cost savings are particularly useful for business operations. As your employee base and markets grow, you can continue to shrink your IT requirements and costs. Additionally, the xPC is an optimal mobility solution for businesses with remote or mobile sales and support staff. 

    Sharing xPC and Upgrading xPC Only is More Cost-effective Than Traditional Systems

    Dynamic Tablet and Mini-PC

    Portability and flexibility are the future of green computing. The flexible ICE xPC ecosystem is the first dynamic computing platform on the market. You can combine the xPC with ICE peripheral devices to create the computing device that you want. The following xPad, and xAdapter peripherals are slated for our initial product offering:


    On the Road, xPC Turns Into a Tablet Computer With ICE xPad

    At Office, xPC Transforms into A Mini Desktop Workstation With ICE xTop

    At Home, xPC Converts Your Home HDTV into a TVPC With ICE xAdapter. Simply Connect Your Game Controller Directly to xAdapter's USB Ports.

    Simply Connect Your Existing Bluetooth, USB, or Other Accessories With Mini-PC

    Mission Impossible for Start-Ups? No – We Did It!

    The initial inspiration behind ICE Computer was the appearance of the Apple iPad in April 2010. The iPad introduced the media tablet to consumers. As a result, the ICE Computer team began to envision the future. If a company could create a media tablet, then what would come next? Could the industry evolve into a yet unknown post-PC era?

    Facing this challenge head-on, ICE Computer started thinking about the next steps that would lead consumers down the post-PC path and concluded the following:

    Brain in pocket - new, small device in our pocket that can do a similar job to a laptop.

    Computing anytime anywhere - devices offer new, pleasant user experiences for worldwide consumers where they can enjoy business and personal computing as much in the office, lab, Starbucks, libraries, or schools, as they do at home.

    Easy upgrade - hassle free plug-and-play computer upgrades; existing applications and documents will not need to be moved over to the new system.

    Dynamic - device flexible enough to be a pad, notebook, desktop, or many others - when and where people need it.

    Cloud services - thin client devices can access applications, data, and even instantly download/boot lightweight operating systems from clouds, anywhere.

    Eco-friendly - devices with better, lighter, and cheaper components that can be easily shared, reused, or recycled.

    To define these objectives, we had several brainstorming sessions to envision exactly what the 'post-PC' era was. During one session we were discussing the fact that Apple's iPad is basically a version of the iPhone with a larger display. Our founder, Shang-Che Cheng then said, "Hey, what consumers really need is a modular computer!" Cheng continued, "A pocket PC as small as smartphone that can be shared and become the core of everything such as a Pad, a notebook, a set-top-box, etc., which is cost-effective and reduces e-waste."

    The ICE team then derived the idea of a next-generation, completely modular computer platform to expand consumer choices. No longer would consumers need to decide on a computer that best suited their needs of the day: desktop, laptop, or tablet. With the ICE Computer platform, consumers can purchase a single 'core intelligence' (xPC) and design a desktop, laptop, tablet, or all three by combining the xPC with the complementary components!

    DESIGN

    Our modular platform had to be innovative and flexible; it had to be cost-effective; and, it had to be Eco-friendly. We've gone to extraordinary lengths and overcome a number of challenges to initially create the ICE xPC, then the components - each within a 6-month timeframe.

    The biggest challenge we faced in evolving the xPC was the ability to squeeze all of that traditional, large PC technology into a smartphone-size chassis. We had to consider not only the space limitations, but heat dissipation. The latter being a consideration for the components as well. We overcame these issues by increasing the printed circuit board layers to 10 to be able to reside more than four thousands of interconnected tiny circuits, while maintaining a 1mm or less thickness. Our innovative thermal module for heat dissipation of non-fanless processors took care of the heat dissipation issue, separating the heat sink and cooling fan and ensuring proper air flow conduction.

    To effectively manage the communication between the ICE xPC and peripherals, we designed an embedded control unit into each along with control software. The control unit and software form a master/slave relationship between the xPC and its peripherals to facilitate performance as a single, integrated PC when connected.

    PROTOTYPE

    Our first challenge was how to create prototypes of our designs with the limited resources we had. While we considered both ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) for this, the requirements were too restrictive for our small operation and neither could sufficiently fulfill what we envisioned for our products.

    We made the decision to build the prototypes ourselves. We presented our platform to a leading chip maker. Their team was so excited about our novel and total solution that they immediately gave us access to their latest chip set information and its reference designs. We used this information as the basis for our board and heat dissipation designs.

    Instead of presenting computer hardware terms only, please allow us to explain development procedures/terms a little bit for easy understanding:

    • Industrial design – design look and feel of a new device
    • Mechanical design - ensure parts are production-able; design moving parts, such as open/close doors, housing, and connector, etc.
    • Schematics, layout/placement – detail engine/cpu and electronic designs
    • PCBA, tooling – build and assemble parts, motherboard, and housing
    • Firmware – create control software
    • Testing – perform engineering, design, and production tests
    We outsourced the Industry Design (ID) to ensure aesthetic appeal and ease of user-interface of the products, and the Mechanical Design for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. Our chief hardware architect worked on the xPC's schematics (electronic diagram) and board layout (electronic components placement and connection) designs.

    With the board layout design completed, we delivered the xPC Gerber file to a contract printed circuit board manufacturer located in Taiwan to produce the circuit boards for us. The Gerber file format is the defacto industry standard for printed circuit board image transfer, and describes the printed circuit board image's copper layers, solder mask, legend, drill holes, etc. Whoever has the Gerber file can manufacture the same product with little effort. However this is not an issue with the xPC, since it is protected by our separated control software and peripherals that make up the xPC.

    While the circuit boards were being produced, we delivered the Industry and Mechanical designs to a "soft" tooling company to make the xPC plastic chassis. Soft tooling is an excellent solution for sample manufacturing as it is low cost and gave us more flexibility in case a design change was needed prior to production. A week later, we had assembled the first xPC prototype!

    Finally, we needed to be able to test the integration. For this we developed a simple adapter as our testing vehicle. We connected the xPC to this adapter and successfully converted a HDTV into a TVPC! And our simple adapter subsequently became the ICE xAdapter.

    Our entire xPC platform is now ready to move to production. ICE Computer is consistently delivering on our vision, and continuing to innovate:

    • 2012 Computex - Taipei, Taiwan. Demonstrated the xPC, xAdapter, and xKeyboard.
    • 2013 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) - Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Six months later, we demonstrated the xPad mobile display with xPC.
    • 2013 Computex - Taipei, Taiwan. Six months after CES, we demonstrated the 6-in-1 xTop mini desktop prototype. 
    • 2014 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) - Las Vegas, Nevada, US. If you are attending the CES, we cordially invite you to visit us from 1/7 to 1/10 at the Monte Carlo Resort, suite # 20001 for a private product introduction.

    Since the launch of the xPC, we have successfully delivered new components every 6 months. Our next major focus is on incorporating the latest Intel Atom processors into the xPC to deliver higher CPU performance at production.

    Open Architecture

    When a PC is the size of a smartphone, the possibilities are unlimited! The ICE xPC open connector architecture facilitates the use of existing peripherals and provides developers with the opportunity to create peripherals or accessories as needed.

    For example, you could select a low cost gaming “shell” or “docking” device in your favorite color, display size, and with control buttons “only”, and simply plug the ICE xPC™ core processor into the gaming device to play your games.  This gives you the power of the ICE xPC behind the gaming gear that suits you.

    At ICE Computer, our fundamental philosophy is to create core technologies and development kits to assist developers in joining the computing revolution. We want to empower developers to become computing innovators and support new business ventures. 

    Detailed SDK specs will be available soon on our ICE Dev Blog.

    Support for Product Development

    ICE Computer has developed modular computer prototypes for more than two years. The ICE xPC and the peripherals that you see in the video are the culmination of our efforts. The products are real, working prototypes.

    Once on the market, we are very optimistic that the demand for the ICE xPCs will be high.  We are now seeking your support to launch our products. Your contributions will help to fund:

    • Production of ICE xPC (upgrade to the latest Intel 4 Cores Atom processor), xPad, and xAdapter
    • Production tooling
    • Large component orders

    You Are Funding ICE xPC (with latest Atom 4 Cores processor), xPad, and xAdapter. Note that the thick size of xPad is less than 14mm. The actual xPad product will look much thinner than the picture above.

    Current Challenges & Risk

    People have been discussing modular computers for decades. However, very few companies (including the ‘big brand’ shops) have actually introduced a truly modular computer. To date, modular systems have had significant limitations or obstacles, including:

    • Design limitations of the motherboard when it is broken down into several interconnected boards
    • Components that are confined inside the same chassis
    • Component feature flaws

    The ‘modular’ PCs available today are typically difficult to upgrade, a flaw some attribute to marketing schemes which require users to re-purchase new models every few years in order to stay current with technology.

    ENGINEERING

    Since very few manufacturers offer modular computers, it requires computer savvy and knowledge to identify proper sections that allow easy interchange and facilitate upgrades. Unlike traditional “in-chassis” approaches, we have successfully identified and separated key functional components into modules, each with their own small chassis. 

    This approach will allow consumers to be more closely aligned with new technologies, and makes purchasing new, advanced components more cost-effective.

    MANUFACTURING

    ICE Computer has high confidence in our demonstrated and tested technology. The challenge we currently face is funding to enable mass production.

    In preparation for manufacturing, we have: 

    • Engineered our platform of products for mass-manufacturing
    • Built and tested the pre-production units
    • Applied for, and passed, government regulations on pre-production units
    • Partnered with a select manufacturer in Taiwan or China in preparation for mass production
    • Identified distribution partners for packaging and shipping

    With only a handful of PC manufacturers globally, 60% of the world's notebook PCs and the majority of PC components for desktops are manufactured in Taiwan. Therefore, we have established a team in Taiwan to work directly with the manufacturers. This team will oversee operations and assist with mitigating any risk.

    Our Atom xPC production plan is as follows:

    TEAM

    ICE Computer founders are experienced entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and Taiwan. Their backgrounds include:

    • Co-founder/CEO/CTO of several companies
    • Lengthy experience with startups, building technology, and business operations
    • Mergers and acquisitions
    • Participation in startup funding from large VCs and Corporates
    • Grown startups to mid-size companies, and subsequently exited with an M/A

    Scott Ma, Vice President, was former president of USA operations for Elitegroup Computer Systems, a famous PC manufacturer in Taiwan.

    Our Chief Hardware and Software Architects have more than 20 years of computing systems research and development experience.

    The blend of experience from Silicon Valley and Taiwan offers the best product innovation and operations for our current venture. The ICE team is excited and confident in delivering the best and most unique products to consumers.

    SPECIFICATIONS

    Specifications are subject to change without notice.

    xPC Tiny Motherboard (Left), and New ID for Production Units (right):

    Top View of Production Version of xAdapter Component Placement

    Support Future Personal Computing

    Smartphones and tablet PCs are the future of mobile platforms. However, their features overlap. For example, Apple’s iPad is fundamentally a version of their iPhone with a larger display. And, consumers still require notebook PCs for their greater flexibility.

    Owning a smartphone, tablet PC, and notebook device creates redundancy and becomes expensive. ICE Computer’s team believes consumers need much greater innovation in devices, which is why we are proud to introduce this simple, but dynamic, Eco-friendly, and cost-effective computing platform to address these two concerns and give consumers greater flexibility at a lower cost. We believe a hybrid device of a low-power smartphone and a high-power PC will be available within the next few years. We need your support for future computing and the environment. Compare with Automobile industry, our new ecosystem is like introducing electronic car to Computer industry.

    You can help change the PC industry to


    Save money and save the earth!

    No More Pile of e-Waste at Home

    In addition to ICE Computer's "reuse and reduce" approach of our ICE xPCs and peripheral components, we plan to implement a Buy Back program once product shipments begin. This program will strengthen our eco-friendly stance and give all ICE customers the option to recycle ICE products, and cost savings.

    Thank You

    REWARDS

    FAQs

    Q. This project on Indiegogo is set as Flexible Funds. If it is not funded completely, can you choose the option to reverse the contribution

    A. We will refund the remaining contribution (after deduct the transaction fee from Indiegogo and Amazon or Credit Card) if the funding was not fulfilled and contributor decide on a refund. Disregard contributors' decision, we are committed to deliver the products since we are working with companies that are highly interested in OEM our products.

    Q. Is it possible to install Ubuntu into xPC? Will it work right out of box? Will xPad's touchscreen work out of box with ubuntu?

    A. There are a lot of requests for xPC and xPad to support different Operating Systems especially for Linux. We have limited resources and have to focus on the committed deliveries first. Hence, we prefer to partner with companies that are good at porting and testing of Linux platform to do the system verification for all of us. If you happen to know any of this type of company, please kindly link us to them.

    Q. Is there a plan for delivering an ARM version of xPC?

    A. Yes, ARM version of xPC is much easier to implement. We will outsource the ARM project to a partner to work on it. We will announce its delivery timeline later.

    Q. What is the timeline for delivering Intel Core i version of xPC?

    A. Yes, we just finished the Core i circuit design and layout. We will continue working on it and announce its delivery timeline later when ready.

    Q. Is there any chance of this working with a phone shell sort of like the tablet idea?

    A. It is definitely in our future plan. However we have to deliver the current production plan first.

    Q. How big is the xPC's power source / adapter?

    A. The 20W power was provided through xPC connector.

    Q. Can we use xPad as a mobile display through HDMI (without xPC)?

    A. A. Not through HDMI, but for smartphones support MHL interface.

    Q. What does ICE stand for, and who is ICE?

    A. ICE Computer is a provider of modular computers for Internet, Communication, and Entertainment (ICE™). We are a startup company with an R&D team in Silicon Valley and a manufacturing team in Taiwan. Our founders are experienced entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley with backgrounds as co-founder/CEO/CTO of several companies, experienced with startups, technology building, operations, and M&A activities. We have been working on modular computers for more than two years.

    Q. What are the benefits of the ICE xPC modular computer?

    A. A modular computer is much smaller, lighter, and more flexible than anything else currently available. Its modularization enables more product offerings, customization, and localization through dynamic module combinations. The sharing and reuse of modules eliminates the costs of buying multiple software licenses and redundant hardware. Another feature is the ease of upgrading the ICE xPC. The ICE xPC is a green computing designed with the future and sustainability in mind. The ICE xPC is one-for-all or all-for-one for easy interchange and to facilitate upgrades. To upgrade, you just simply plug-and-play a new ICE xPC into existing peripherals and reuse them, which creates minimal electronic waste. This novel modular computer can save you a considerable amount of money as well as help save the environment.

    Q. How does the ICE xPC dissipate heat?

    A. It depends on its CPU’s thermal design power (TDP): some high power ICE xPC’s use a heatsink and fan to dissipate heat like a traditional laptop computer.

    Q. Do you have patents?

    A. We have many novel inventions and have already filed more than 10 patent applications in major countries, including the USA, Japan, China, Taiwan, and the EU.

    Q. Why does the ICE xPC™ not have its own integrated display screen?

    A. Flexibility is what we have in mind when designing this product. The ICE xPC allows users to pick “task base form factor” such as a 5" portable LCD or a 24" monitor that provides the best display for a given project. It also allows users to use already-owned display devices even include your smartphone’s display if it supports wireless display.

    Q. When are other ICE peripherals available?

    A. We have prototyped the ICE xTop (mini-desktop), and ICE xKeyboard, etc. However we are working on multiple touches for better gesture operation for xKeyboard's integrated Trackpad and Space Bar. We are planning to launch xTop as a separated funding project soon. We will release detail information later when these products are ready for production.

    ---

    Android is a trademark of Google Inc. in the United States and other countries.

    ICE xPC™ is a trademark of ICE Computer in the United States and other countries.

    Intel® is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries.

    Windows® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.



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