IBM experimenting with mobile PC core

IBM Corp. is experimenting with a mobile PC core that a user can carry around and plug into different holders, creating a handheld computer, desktop PC or notebook computer, the company said Wednesday.

Code-named MetaPad, the box has a hard drive, RAM, processor, 3D graphics chip and a connector. Other PC components become accessories. The 9 ounce (255 gram) device is about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long, about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) wide and about three-quarters of an inch (2 centimeters) thick, IBM said in a statement.

The MetaPad would enable users to always carry their data with them and remove the need for synchronizing between devices. The box could power a desktop PC when placed on a cradle, a handheld computer when slid into a holder that has a small LCD (liquid crystal display) and a notebook when placed in a slot in a notebook shell. Swapping can be done without rebooting, IBM said.

IBM's research division will present a MetaPad prototype running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP on a power-efficient 800MHz processor with 128M bytes of RAM and a 10G-byte hard disk at a conference in the U.S. next week, the company said.

IBM has no plans to take the MetaPad into production, but said it may license the MetaPad technologies to other vendors. The company sees MetaPad as a "radical experiment" in form factor, which allows it to test its software, middleware and other technologies for pervasive computing.

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