Innovations in Notebook Expansion
By Gabriel Torres on November 26, 2004
The biggest problem with notebooks is their upgrade, which is limited. In the last few years that has improved a lot and it is now possible to change or enhance the RAM memory and the hard disk. Besides, notebooks also have an expansion slot called PC Card (formerly called PCMCIA), that permits the installation of network boards, modems, hard disks, adapters to read memory cards of digital cameras and other peripherals to expand the notebook capacity. PC Card boards measure 54 mm x 85,6 mm, use a 68-pin connector and can be found at three types of thickness: type I (3,3 mm), type II (5 mm) and type III (10,5 mm).
In a near future, with the adoption of the new PCI Express bus, a new expansion slot for notebooks will be available, called Express Card, which will have two sizes: Express Card/34 and Express Card/54, whose widths will be 34 mm (1/8) and 54 mm, respectively. Both are 75 mm long and 5 mm thick. The idea is the same of the PCCard, only that by using serial communication instead the parallel one, it uses less pins (only 26 pins, against 68 pins in the PC Card) and that permits the manufacture of smaller expansion boards.
But both PC Card and Express Card don't solve one problem: the one of the video card. The problem is that up until now most notebooks have their video card integrated with their motherboards. In other words, you can not to change the video card because this is stuck to the notebook motherboard.
NVIDIA has recently showed an idea that aims at solving this problem. The so-called MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module): this is a standardized slots for notebooks into which the video card is fit. Thus, if your notebook uses this module and, in the future, you want to change its video card, you will be able to, for all it will take will be removing the old card and installing the new one.
The MXM slot is a 230-pin slot and the MXM boards may be found in three formats: MXM-I, 70 x 66 mm, for slim notebooks; MXM-II, 73 x 78 mm, for popular notebooks; and MXM-III, 80 x 100 mm, for high-end high performance models.
Several notebook manufacturers, such as AOpen, Quanta, Uniwill, Wistron, FIC, Clevo, Tatung, Arima, ASUS and Mitac, have already declared that they will adopt this new type of slot in their future notebooks.
It is expected that NVIDIA produces the future GeForce Go 6 (based on the recently lauched GeForce 6800) in the new format.
But we don't know whether or not this idea will really work, especially because ATI is preparing the launching
of a proprietary slot format for notebook video cards, called Axiom.