Rock MiniPCIe X

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).

If there’s enough GPIO pins, a miniPCI (not miniCard PCIe!) connector can be made on the opposite egde of the card. It can work as either GPIO, or as a software-emulated PCI, allowing to connect the card even to the most ancient Pentium I laptops. I have one, with 32Gb CF card connected as a SSD, instead of ATA hard drive. Giving it the power of the most recent Atom will be fun!

C’mon, time works against us :frowning: Cherry Trail does not seem to renew.
I can’t draw enough attention to it alone. When I ask people, 8 of 10 gets excited, but I can’t ask the whole world.
This thread misses the target audience: we’re DIY enthusiasts here, and Rock MiniPCIe X is for retro laptop owners, mostly.
So I have to say the awful truth: without an official, loud announcement or even starting a Kickstarter project, the project itself is dead-born. I’m asking Radxa to be a bit more active.

While you are may be right - right now Radxa is busy with incoming ARM CPUs. Also, forum is not best place for this, better to email radxa regarding it.

I’ve quoted the e-mail conversation with Radxa in my first message. Maybe more people should ask them to begin Kickstarter? Creating a project will not take much time even if they’re busy.

Ah, so that’s email conversation with radxa, oh well. No idea for what you may use it in real-case scenario, but have fun

If CherryTrail is enough for certain needs, this board will be useful. It’ll allow to use a keyboard, a touchpad, a display, a PSU and an HDD bay from almost any ancient junk. Just insert a Rock MiniPCIe X instead of a WiFi card and connect to it by RDP.
“PCI on GPIO” version can use the most ancient ones, even Pentium MMX laptops, if their displays are not “blind” yet.
For testing purposes, I’m posting this message on an old dual-core laptop which accepts at most 2Gb RAM. I have no issues regarding it’s display, keyboard etc, but it’s too slow for comfortable use, unlike a properly configured CherryTrail with 4 Gb RAM (which I’ve tested in the same conditions).
It’s a “cheap netbook which utilizes an old laptop” rather than a “DIY board” (but nothing prevents from using it’s GPIO while having the comfort of using a laptop form factor, no wire mess and blinking LEDs).