Open Industry hardware standards vs walled garden ecosystem

Recently we have seen a lot of successful companies be successful in adapting walled garden and vertical integration software and hardware practice. Most consumers (I don’t) loved it seen by their sales. Just for example Apple and Nintendo. They deliver their own software and hardware. Even some software is exclusive to their platform.

It’s clear that Framework is not like this. I would like to know how open is Framework? Are you open only for software only. For example, portable gaming like steam deck or other laptop manufacture where you can run whatever software you want but are limited to their own hardware standards. Another good example is Moto Mods and LG G5 where their hardware is upgradeable but only limited by their proprietary hardware that goes nowhere.

There’s another level of “open” which is an open standard for example DIY PC market. There are standards that all manufacturers can build upon. Since Framework laptop has a standard motherboard, will Framework “actively” work with manufacturers like Asus or Gigabyte to deliver different motherboards? Intel has tried it with NUC and we don’t see they are going anywhere.

Another question is did the consumer interested in open hardware standards? Quite a long time ago the concept of the Project ARA (Google) modular phone has been on the news everywhere but got shut down. Is it because of a lack of interest or do they just assume that users don’t want it? Another example I want to make is GPU and CPU shortage which shows that there’s a market for open hardware.

If Framework is targeting open hardware standards (For motherboard, Expansion slot, Casing, keyboard + trackpad, and screens) .
There’s a dilemma of standard summarized by this picture How do we prevent this? Another important question about the standard is who gets to decide what is standard. SATA used to be standard and now the desktop still keeps it because there are no space limitations. DIY PC market is surprising conservation with most mainboard has only USB-A! We could end up in a situation where NVME SSD is obsolete and USB C is not used anymore!

If framework didn’t decide that they are not going to make this an open hardware standard then there would be no problem but the consumer will be left with a single choice from 1 company. I would like to hear everybody’s opinion on this. Did you want an open hardware standard? or Open software standard is enough?

  • A. I would like open hardware standard
  • B. I would like open software standard is enough
  • C. I only care if I can fix my own laptop or send to repair shop
  • D. I don’t care at all as long as it is easy to use
  • E. I don’t like open standard, worst experience for user I would rather be locked down and get the best experience.
  • F. Others [Add comment below]

0 voters

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They already utilize standards wherever possible. They can’t account for evolving standards (such as a hypothetical future where M.2 NVMe is obsolete), but that’s where the modularity comes in, since we can just replace the motherboard and buy replacement parts for whichever standards are now obsolete.

The only parts AFAIK which are Framework-specific (and there’s not much they can do about this) are the motherboard (because of the formfactor and chassis) and the expansion cards (because they literally designed them from scratch). The dimensions and CAD drawings for the casing are available so people (and 3rd parties) can make their own expansion cards and build up an ecosystem.

So…what exactly would you like them to do that they haven’t already done?


To answer what do I want framework team to do. I think a lot of things can be answered with the updated unreleased framework laptop.

  • The new laptop should be compatible with the first laptop. I can switch out board, battery, speaker, keyboard and ALL components so that it should still work on the new updated framework laptop.
  • New laptop would also be able to innovate. For example of the trend changes to every laptop is detachable, framework laptop should be able to keep previous components.
  • Partnership program with major computer parts. I build my own desktop PC and I would imagine ASUS, gigabyte or other manufacturer selling updated board which drive competition. May be earn license fee? I also don’t want this project to turn out like Moto mods or LG G5 “friends” where there’s modularity but in the end nobody uses it and it can’t be used with other laptop.
  • lastly I don’t want this to be just repairable framework laptop 1 and new version is framework laptop 2 with totally new parts like fair phone where new version is not compatible.

That’s reasonable, although it might require a lot of kludges to get it to work with e.g. a larger formfactor (should they e.g. develop a 15" laptop).

I mean, sure? I don’t really see how they can fight against industry trends, though. If everyone moves to DDR5 RAM, it will become harder and harder to find CPUs and motherboards that support DDR4 (as well as harder to source DDR4 RAM itself), so it would make sense for them to move to DDR5. There isn’t much any one individual actor can do in such a situation, especially when they’re relying on existing standards for most components.

I honestly doubt this will happen. This isn’t like a desktop, where there are a few specific formfactors. Every goddamn laptop has its own dimensions and any boards developed by 3rd parties would be specifically for the Framework (and couldn’t be used with other laptops), so the only incentive for them to do that would be if Framework laptops grow to become a big force in the industry and Framework owners are open to buying 3rd party motherboards. I don’t see the second one happening even if the first part does.

This is partially out of their control, though. If the world moves on and starts using different connectors for RAM, there’s not much they can do except also use that type of RAM. If the world moves to a different type of (standardized) storage, it would be foolish for Framework to not also support that format.

The biggest strength of Framework, in my opinion, is that there is already a big market out there of compatible parts, precisely because they used existing standards where applicable. They used existing standards for the WiFi module, storage, and RAM. They relied on USB-C to power their expansion card concept. All of this stuff is easily sourceable from third parties.

Even other parts likely rely on existing connector types (keyboard, touchpad, etc), but the problem is that their formfactors are very specific to a given laptop. That is, Dell and Framework may both use the same connector for their touchpad (so the touchpads are compatible), but the Dell touchpad may not fit in the Framework (or vice versa). The same goes for other stuff as well, like the keyboard and speakers. So while other parts could theoretically fit, whether they actually fit depends on their dimensions and the space within the chassis.


Just note that what I write is just my dream of what the framework company could be. I am not even sure if it’s economically viable.

I would like to bring a desktop PC for comparison again. The motherboard size and dimension are standard for atx, micro-atx, and mini itx. It doesn’t matter what DDR 5 or DDR 4 ram, both will fit those board dimensions.

Recently I have been reading a lot about sffpc (small form factor pc). All cases have different dimensions. Even a different power supply! The beauty of it is all of them use standard components and there’s a market for it.

Again I think what blows my mind on DIY pc is the stand of components which is extremely fools proof and compatible with other parts. My friend asked me to upgrade his over 10 years pc. I could buy a motherboard and not bother looking up if the power supply spec since the pins is compatible and PCI-e of his old graphic card works and I don’t even care about what company is making those parts.

Would love to hear others thought too!

Not true, especially if Intel has their way and 12VO becomes the standard (which I’m for btw)

Framework has done all they can do for open hardware, I doubt there is much more that can be done on that front

And I would like to push back on the concept that we should be slaves to reusing parts

Yes we should seek reuse of parts wherever possible but not to the detriment of performance

That’s not what I want and it’s not useful either

SATA is a great example, M.2 drive slots obviously won’t accept 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives but the performance is unmatched in a much reduced form factor

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Totally understandable I just want to share my magical experience I have with PC standard. I did manage to upgrade my friends PC with the old power supply even new board has different pins.

Can’t wait to see how framework implement the next version! Framework laptop is miles better than any option I have.

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I think it is important to understand that Framework is a small company in an industry filled with titans. Titans which for decades have worked together to create the closed unrepairable devices that are so prominent today.

I saw on Elevated Systems most recent video that he mentioned the battery connection on the mainboard is proprietary. Many people might see this and immediately think that Framework is blowing smoke.

I think the real answer is that to be able to get access to certain tech you have to play by some of the rules. An industry completely open and modular as Framework desires would put a lot of the current industry out of business.

While this reality is true, there will ALWAYS be compromises. Framework has the least amount of compromises on any such product in the laptop market.

This is why I just want to reaffirm that what Framework has done with the Framework Laptop is revolutionary. The benefits to their design has already been flaunted in youtube and social media extensively. I myself and building my own ultra portable laptop with the Framework Laptop mainboard being the chief guts of that endeavor.

I can’t encourage people to support them enough. They really deserve it!!!