First of all, I quote the conversation.
Rock Pi X is cool! But you can be twice as cool.
Imagine Rock Pi X as a MiniPCIe laptop card! Screw SSD, laptop has it’s own disk, save some space instead. Just a Cherrytrail and RAM. One can place it instead of a Wi-Fi card and turn an old 2-core laptop into a modern Cherrytrail computer!
If it’ll be Ubuntu compatible (no proprietary drivers), count me in. I’ll pay for mine as soon as you begin to raise funds for the Rock MiniPCIe X!
Speaking about “driverless device”, it can emulate a standard NIC and perform a network boot from the laptop itself, for example. And after it boots up from laptop Network Boot Service, remote desktop kicks in. It can, however, have ribbon cables with it’s own display output and USB.
The idea is interesting. Can you post your idea on the ROCK Pi X
forum? If more users are interested and some implementation are
discussed, we are happen toe design something.
So I did it and I’m also adding some implementation details now. Rock Pi X is 85×52 mm. Full-length mini-PCIe card is 59×51. Sacrificing SSD and GPIO, and moving USB and video to ribbon cables will probably allow to reduce 85 to 59 (mounting holes, however, should probably be made for both full-length miniPCIe and half-length miniPCIe, because most laptops have free space for full-length cards but screws for half-length ones). Powering the device can be a problem! And powering external USB loads will be a problem for sure. Maybe those ribbon cables should have an additional +5V wire which must be connected to any suitable laptop 5V power (ExpressCard slot, SATA-to-SSD passive adapter etc). Maybe the whole device will require an additional +5V wire. Either way, replacing laptop HDD with SSD usually frees lot of +5V amperage which can be taken from the SATA power connector.
Emulation of a standard NIC is relatively easy and can be made by writing a Ring0 BIOS module. It intercepts the access to SMBus and emulates the presence of the NIC for the Rock OS/software, and answers the laptop requests and makes the Rock look like a NIC for a laptop. When PCIe lane is used to access the fake cards, the Ring0 module intercepts the access and remaps the memory areas as if data was actually delivered wia Intranet. It’ll allow to support any OS which supports the emulated NIC itself. So speed of the emulated cards is equal to the PCIe speed itself, making remote desktop fast enough even for gaming (of course, if laptop have space for external video output, those ribbon cables can be used for external display).