MANY TRIPS TO TAIPEI
Having progressed from concept to a refined design, it was time to engage with a manufacturing partner. Quanta (a major ODM based out of Taipei) signed on for the project and we worked together to refine the design further, this time with manufacturing in mind. The way this works, is Intel comes to these manufacturing companies and says "we have a next gen architecture and a design we would like to partner with you on." From here, the ODM (in this case Quanta) covers all of the cost of tooling and supports the design for manufacturing effort. Meanwhile Intel uses its clout, connections and incentives to get OEMs on board (such as HP, Dell, etc). This ultimately amounts to orders, and volumes - all of it going to Quanta so they can recoup their investment. The trick early on, is that no one knows who (if anyone) will sign on to sell and distribute these systems...so Quanta proceeds at risk in the early days. For that reason, they are very conscious about tooling cost, and other various manufacturing costs. I remember when one of the Quanta project managers asked me how I would like to get the metal appearance of the back of the system...I said, "well I'd like to make it out of metal." At this point all 20 of the project engineers laughed at once.
After several months of conference calls and days sitting in Taipei conference rooms drawing on whiteboards and eating (strangely flat) fried chicken the DVT 0 (Design Validation Test Unit) was ready for assembly and power on. Here are some photos of that inaugural build: