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Intel’s new ultra compact form factor - the 10cm square NUC

by Mark Tyson on 1 May 2012, 14:53

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Raspberry Pi Foundation, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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A diminutive new computer platform has been unveiled by Intel, they call it the “Next Unit of Computing” (NUC). Whether it’s a mini Mac Mini or a big Raspberry Pi depends on your own perspective but it does seem to slot somewhere between those systems in size and pricing.

Working NUC machines were demonstrated at the Intel Platinum Summit in London last week and pictures of the computers have just been published on a Swedish site, SweClockers.com and I have added the best ones to this story below.

Intel NUC

Intel NUC

How do the features of this new form factor stack up? Well it sounds like it packs quite a punch for its size. The NUC will feature Thunderbolt connectivity, 2 x mini PCIe headers, 2 x SODIMM slots, HDMI and USB 3.0. Initially, the engine of the NUC will be a Sandy Bridge i3 or i5 combined with Intel HD 3000 graphics. Without looking at any benchmarks you can see that the NUC will be very powerful compared to the significantly smaller 700MHz Raspberry Pi. The bare board also looks a lot more complicated. When buying a NUC box you will have to pay multiples of the RasPi’s price, a bare NUC is guestimated to retail in the region of $100. So other websites headlining this as a RasPi rival are clutching at straw headlines I think.

Popular system sizes compared

  • Raspberry Pi 8.5cm x 5.5cm
  • Intel NUC 10cm square
  • Mac Mini 19.7cm square
  • Mini  ITX format 17cm square
  • Micro ATX 24.4cm square
  • ATX 30.5cm × 24.4cm
  • More here.

The first NUC computers are expected in the second half of this year, said to be aimed at kiosks and under TV applications. I’d hope it gets to the general market at a good price and then it would make an excellent under TV Wintel box, but having Windows installed on it would add a lot to that $100 price estimate by Extreme Tech. Is Intel very worried about the ARM based Raspberry Pi? Their recent move into smartphone territory show they aren’t going to leave the low power/high performance gate open for ARM to stroll through but this new small form factor doesn’t seem to be going after the same market as the RasPi IMHO.

HEXUS Forums :: 23 Comments

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“The NUC will feature Thunderbolt connectivity, 2 x mini PCIe headers, 2 x SODIMM slots, HDI and USB 3.0.” what's HDI ? :D
I really cannot see how they could even remotely compete on price……unless of course they aim in squarely at applications that RasPi cannot handle.
Unless you can set it to boot from LAN/from a NAS then storage just get up and running is going to be very expensive as you'd have to go the mini-PCi-e SSD route, no?
Did you write this article in a hurry?! Honestly, I'm not sure what place ‘IMHO’ has in an article like this.

Can't see why this would be compared to a mac mini.

Surely compare it to Pico ITX (Not just Mini!) as Pico ITX is also 10CM, however it is 7.2cm on the other side, so smaller.

I think they have to compete on price, and also pack much more of a punch.