Project Balthazar Open Source Laptop Concept Coming Soon

Rumours suggest that developers are working on a new open-source laptop concept design called Project Balthazar that will make all components user replaceable.

Open Source Platform, Modular Devices, Laptops, PC Computers

Mon Feb 13, 2023 - 17:52

Project Balthazar Laptop Concept Coming Soon

Open Source RISC-V Laptop Concept Design

Even though Windows is a versatile and easy-to-use operating system, it is still based on a proprietary system architecture that was developed by Microsoft and came with certain limitations. The same can be said for the Apple MacOS, which, even though it is based on the open-source Linux kernel, still offers limited usability due to the way the OS interface has been designed. While users can install other Linux-based operating systems on their devices, it still does not remove the hardware level restriction placed on the device by the manufacturers. That is where Project Balthazar comes in.


Project Balthazar Concept

Project Balthazar is the vision of a new type of computing device that is based on the new RISC-V ISA, which is based on open-source RISC principles. RISC-V in itself is an open standard instruction set architecture that aims to replace the closed architecture present in modern devices, which use proprietary Intel and AMD components and various other closed-loop technologies.

Under the new Project Balthazar framework, nearly everything has been redesigned using an open-source outlook, including the main components, the supporting drivers and accessories, and also the operating system. This way, anyone can build their own preferred machine, using whatever component configurations they prefer, which unlocks lots of options for upgradability in the future.

Design & Build Quality

The Project Balthazar computing device is expected to feature a tough and chunky body, which is more about function rather than form. It is expected to use a tough body that features polycarbonate, aluminium composite or recyclable plastic materials. The need for such a boxy design is to standardize the body and provide ample space for future components that might be larger and more powerful.

The sides of the device will feature multiple hot-swappable bays for key components, while the insides will get a fanless cooling design and Tempest-shielded internal cabling. You also get lots of connectivity options that include a few USB ports, an OTG port, an HDMI port, a GPIO port, and even a 3.5mm audio jack. There is still enough space in the body to pack an absolutely massive 10000+ mAh recyclable battery that is hidden within the body.

Standard Configuration

The base concept is based on the use of a SOM or System on a Module card, which will feature a specialized SOC and RAM included on the same chipset. As expected, the SOC will be based on the RISC-V and ISA CPU architectures, while the GPU will feature an ARM Cortex A7x or NVIDIA unit. What models are available and support will be entirely up to the companies, which will have to deliver the open documentation for drivers and software that might work with the GPU.

You can use a SATA SSD for storage, and the laptop also has an eSATA connector for external storage. Unfortunately, you do miss out on M.2 NVMe drive support, but everything else is easily upgradable thanks to user-accessible bays on the side of the computer. Similar bays will feature the battery, camera module, and a waterproof Cherry MX low-profile keyboard, so users can easily replace and repair these components in the future.

Everything can be controlled off of a 13.3-inch HD LED display, which features a 16:10 aspect ratio and offers enough brightness for everyday usage in well-lit conditions. The system is expected to run 64-bit versions of NixOS, Trisquel GNU, Guix, Debian, and Ubuntu variants for RISC-V.

Price & Availability

Since the concept is completely open source, there is no limit to the price or configurations that can be made using this platform. We can expect various small and large manufacturers to try their own hand at developing unique products using this framework. We will keep you updated on any new products that surface from this endeavour and how they might help democratize the computing industry.


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