Newer CPUs now have more and more of the hardware that used to be on the motherboard built in. Would it be possible for future Framework mainboards to have a separate daughterboard with the CPU and chipset on, and a modular connector running to the mainboard, so CPU upgrades can be even cheaper and more accessible?
Even if it isn’t possible to swap between different models of Intel CPU this way, or Intel and AMD, it would be nice if you could swap the same generation of processor, i.e. from an i5 to an i7 without having to swap the whole board, most of which will be the same!
I can see what you are asking, but the problem them becomes what do you do with the old CPU? It becomes e-waste. The way Framework have done it with a fully functional mainboard really is forward thinking. Because if you are swapping your mainboard to upgrade, the old one is still fully functional and thanks to its modular design can be used in any number of other applications.
From a more specific standpoint, there are technical reasons why such a thing would not be advisable on a thin and light laptop as agentcrm already alluded to in their post.
And finally if you decide to upgrade the mainboard of your Framework but don’t have any use for the old one, how much easier is it to sell a fully functional board that is easy to work into a DIY project than a socketed CPU that will have limited range and use, just because of how the majority of laptops are made today?
I was thinking about this stuff, and the best answer to this that I can think of is this:
The limiting factor is the usefulness of the chipset/CPU combination. Plugs and ports come into play at some point, but the basic layout and function of reaching the rest of the hardware doesn’t need to change; perhaps a component that identifies the version of the board (and therefore the features available) when the CPU module kicks in. But that also means moving the chipset to the daughterboard.
So now the question becomes: do you marry the CPU to a specific model of motherboard? That would certainly solve the issue of duplicate chipsets. So what about the CPU? It inevitably needs to be on a motherboard at some point, and sticking it onto a daughterboard means it’s now a Framework-proprietary module, which limits the market to Framework owners.
The only viable solution would be to make the CPU module a socket-chipset module, which would use the same physical cabling/routing as the motherboard, but supply a chipset-socket board to promote AMD/Intel compatibility. That would minimize the waste of these daughterboards and make them un-preprietory…
…Except that neither Intel nor AMD have a socketed solution in the mobile space, which takes us back to square one.
Whether it’s a thin notebook or not isn’t the point; anything can be “made” thin eventually, and some server platforms don’t even bother with clamping mechanisms, but when you take thinness-as-a-priority away, there is still a lot of work to do with little to gain and virtually no change to the end result. The only way this changes is with an industry-wide shift and demand for a standardized notebook form factor that places the chipset and CPU onto daughterboards, and there is no appetite for this, no matter what bigger players promise.
TL;DR: it’s a really cool idea, and could have a lot of module potential, but as long as Intel and AMD see no benefit to going back to sockets and all the benefit of solder-on, surface mount BGA chips, this idea is essentially dead in the water.
The idea doesn’t really make that much sense. The GPU is integrated and most pcie/usb devices like the WiFi chip are already removable of the framework laptop. The only stuff left on the mainboard needs to be physically close to the CPU like the voltage control MOSFETs or the memory lanes and so on. You don’t want to route these through a ribbon cable or whatever.
Also it’s not really worth it. CPUs aren’t really compatible with each other, a never CPU will very likely need different writing and connections to an older one and choosing something like a lowest common denominator would be bad as you wouldn’t get full performance and features.