What is stopping a third party from creating an ARM based mainboard?

The marketplace is a brilliant idea, as it can expand the functionality of the Framework laptop. But we are missing the bigger picture here. If you open up the marketplace itself to third party manufacturers you cement the Framework as an essential platform. Everything must work to the spec of the Framework, and that pins the framework design as a lasting platform for years to come. It also helps us early adopters who want to tinker, and want a longer lasting battery in Linux, or Windows. Why not?

Nothing right now as far as I know? They’d have to be relatively advanced though.

The dimensions of the mainboard are given!!
The marketplace is not currently open to third parties, although if I remember correctly it is on the roadmap.
It’s more of just that there is no collection of individuals who have chosen to do this yet. I am sure in time it will come (Unless Framework goes bankrupt D:)!

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Apart from Apple, there are zero powerful ARM based laptops. It’s a huge opportunity, and would create a new platform for Framework. I’m sure ARM has faster iterations than Intel could, unless Intel comes up with something revolutionary. Battery life, heat… that seems to be the edge they are reaching.

I think the best non-Apple one and reasonably available would be the RockPi, particularly the RK3588.

There is even this now that I might consider for a mini-ITX for encoding (https://en.t-firefly.com/product/industry/itx3588j), but if Intel Meteor Lake for Framework comes out with an even better iGPU, why not, even an Raptor Lake with a Intel Arc A370M would be awesome.

Back to the RockPi, they had issues sourcing for parts for the Pinebook Pro. That being said, some kind of custom RockPi SBC that fits into the Framework mainboard would be cool.

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The statement assumes people want to partake the moment the marketplace is opened to third party manufacturers. There’s no cementing if there’s no buy-in. And even if there’s buy-in from manufacturers, you still need consumer adoption. And for adoption to occur, ARM-based use cases and ecosystem has to be in place…otherwise why would people buy a device with no use…just because of the architecture? There’s a difference between cementing and merely existing…

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This is an actual reason why I have not purchased an ARM system yet, the stuff I can do on it is reduced (not all software is available on ARM64, though most of them are for Linux, maybe except Steam/Davinci Resolve). Then the next thing would be price to features (basic iPad vs RK3588) is an issue too.

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All great points! Arm is currently limited on software support. However, the battery life, and computing to power consumption ratio are huge incentives to adapt. Mac did it, it can be done. On a more technical question, can the same framework components that work for x86 also work for Arm64?

We’re certainly happy to help any third party interested in building a compatible Mainboard, ARM or not.

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It would be cool to have a RK3588 mainboard, at least that’s more common yet reasonably powerful one (maybe we can have a Honeycomb LX2 with the latest Mali GPU but I doubt so).

I wonder if Pine64/Khadas or even Firefly/Solid Run would be interested.

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Khadas Edge2 Pro looks like a powerful, and small single board computer. It physically would fit in the area. The challenge would be connecting everything together. The form factor of the SBC is appealing to many, and has market appeal. If there were a way to connect that in to framework, even in a rudimentary way, it would make a very interesting project.

I am seriously considering buying the Khadas Edge2, and velcroing it to a portable monitor! That with a portable keyboard and trackpad, and you have a frankenstein monster. I already carry a portable battery with plenty of power.

Admittedly, I know very little about hardware manufacturing, especially something this.

The only thing stopping me was that it doesn’t have NVMe or SATA support, I posted an hacky idea to fit everything into the Framework chassis through daughter boards but we are missing a few parts: ARM-based CPUs - #31 by Jieren_Zheng

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Really cool ideas! I was not aware about the lack of NVMe and SATA support. I know that the PineBook Pro has an NVMe upgrade card. If the Pinebook used a more powerful mainboard and better screen that would be a real contestant here. A replaceable mainboard based off existing single board computers, that has a way to normalize connections to battery, wifi / bluetooth antenna, screen. As a new SBC comes out, you could adapt it. In combination with a bunch of tinkerers, you could create a thriving little ecosystem of parts and upgrade paths.

Laptops MUST have good battery life. I had a MacBook Pro, 2018, for work. Battery life was about 1.5 hours. Current work issued MBP with the M1 chip, batterylife about 10 hours. Pandemic killed the office, and ARM based processors are allowing tech workers to go more nomadic.