A few years ago I hypothesized that one day Intel will start selling complete personal computers, as opposed to just processors and components. Speaking of components, Intel has purchased enough graphics, networking, and other hardware vendors to manufacture the whole PC in-house (although they still might be outsourcing the case manufacturing). No other computer vendor is able to do so! For many years now Intel has been manufacturing complete servers, so venturing into the desktop PC market is a logical step for them.
In my prediction I theorized that it would be a small form factor black box – basically a processor with a bunch of interfaces and ports attached. What Intel built looks pretty close to what I imagined it would be. As an aside, I always wondered how come Intel never acquired a “spinning disk” vendor such as Western Digital or Seagate? Looks like they knew better, as most of tomorrow’s storage is moving to solid state disk (SSD). Intel already has the ability to manufacture SSDs and RAM – it’s just more chips.
The Intel NUC is an ultra-compact form factor PC measuring 4-inch by 4-inch. Anything your tower PC can do, the Intel NUC can do and in 4 inches of real estate. From home theater to gaming to running a digital jukebox, the Intel NUC has what you need to power your digital potential. Browse social media, check e-mail, and video chat with a friend, all while keeping your office space uncluttered. The Intel NUC is also the perfect solution for business applications, such as digital signage and kiosks. Think you know what small can do? Think again.
Intel ships each NUC model as a motherboard only (the board) or complete PC (the kit). Intel NUC board is a 4-inch by 4-inch motherboard with a soldered on processor that you will have to integrate into a case. The board primarily targets hardware vendors that may choose to integrate with other components such as a monitor for example to produce an all-in-one PC.
The Intel NUC kit comes with a 4-inch by 4-inch motherboard, soldered on processor, enclosure around the board, a power brick, VESA mounting bracket (allowing attachment to the back of a monitor), wireless antennae (integrated into the chassis), Intel brand sticker, and option for a power cord (with 4th generation models only). It’s about half the size of Apple Mac Mini.
The target market segment for the kit are enthusiasts and PC integrators who may choose to use it as hardware platform upon which to build their various vertical solutions: media PC/DVR, security, kiosk, thin client, etc. Granted some may simply choose to use it as a corporate desktop. Personally I am not a fan of all-in-one PCs mainly due to limited upgrade path and general serviceability, so to me the NUC kit offers a much better solution in an ultra-compact form factor PC that can be mounted to the back of the monitor rather than inside of it.
Out of the available Intel NUC models, the ones I find the most interesting are the fan-less models based on the Intel Atom CPUs: The Intel NUC Kit DE3815TYKHE and Intel NUC Board DE3815TYBE, built with an Intel Atom processor for intelligent systems, are a pint-sized powerhouse for value-conscious businesses and organizations. Low power and fan-less design has quite a few applications.
By comparison the smallest PC Dell offers is about six times the size of the Intel NUC. Dell and other PC vendors should definitely take notice. In the future Intel is their supplier and their competitor.