Modular smartphones could be reused as computer clusters

Circular Devices is already thinking beyond just its Puzzlephone concept

Circular Devices wants to reuse the CPU modules from its Puzzlephones as computer clusters.

Circular Devices wants to reuse the CPU modules from its Puzzlephones as computer clusters.

The promise of modular smartphones like Google's Project Ara is that buyers will be able to upgrade components at will -- and now Finnish company Circular Devices has come up with a use for discarded computing modules.

Circular Devices is working on its own modular smartphone concept, Puzzlephone, and hopes to ship working products before the end of the year even though it hasn't yet released a prototype.

The idea behind the Puzzlephone and Project Ara is to increase the longevity of smartphones and reduce waste in the process. With the Puzzlecluster platform, Circular Devices is aiming to take waste reduction one step further.

"It makes no sense to discard a perfectly working computer just because you have upgraded your smartphone. The Puzzlecluster will extend the usable life of the Brain modules way beyond any other smartphone processor," Alejandro Santacreu, CEO at Circular Devices, said in a blog post on Saturday.

The Brain module includes the CPU, which will help power the clusters. The plan is also to reuse old battery modules for back-up power. Drawings of the Puzzlecluster architecture show a chassis with slots for the reused modules, which can then be interconnected with others to create the cluster. Just one unit could also be used as a desktop computer.

Circular Devices didn't provide any details on when Puzzlecluster would start shipping or what software would be used to manage the hardware. But assuming the company is able to ship the first Puzzlephones this year, the first CPU modules should be available for reuse by 2017. So the company has plenty of time to turn its drawings into a real product.

The goal is to deliver a product that's scalable enough to be used by home users, small and medium enterprises, public institutions and data centers. Potential applications include rendering and data analytics, according to Circular Devices. If the cost is low enough, hobbyists and students could use it to learn more about programming for parallel computing.

For anyone that wants to build a cheap cluster now, though, the Rasberry Pi single-board computer already offers a good alternative, and Nvidia has published a helpful how-to onbuilding Raspberry Pi clusters.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphoneshardware systemsconsumer electronicsHigh performanceClustersCircular Devices

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?