Thursday, 30 May 2019

'Austin Beach': Intel's Compute Element Fanless NUC

With Intel's announcement today of the NUC Compute Element [1], drawing a long bow may lead to two observations: firstly Intel is using the halo effect of 'NUC' to overcome the presumed horn effect of 'Compute' from the recently cancelled Compute Card products [2]; secondly a passively cooled NUC is to be launched and become part of the NUC's ongoing product family [3].
The Intel NUC Compute Element enables an industry standard for modular compute through a device that incorporates an Intel CPU, memory, connectivity and other components and is capable of powering solutions like laptops, kiosks, smart TVs, appliances and more [1]. At first glance it almost seems the same as the aforementioned Compute Card except that instead of being a fully-enclosed, gadgety card, the NUC Compute Element looks and acts a lot more like a computer part, right down to its exposed connector. Intel claims the changes reduce its footprint inside other devices and also increases the I/O options on tap [4]. Significantly whilst the Compute Card's sealed design and extra durability added nominally to the card cost it added about $50 to each unit on the OEM side to incorporate the module which stunted its adoption [5]. Intel goes on to further emphasise that the NUC Compute Element delivers incredible performance and amazing connectivity at a low cost while making it easy to integrate, upgrade and service computing in next-generation devices [1].

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Intel concluded their announcement by stating that the initial NUC Compute Element will be available with a range of processors, including versions with Intel vPro™ technology for increased security and manageability and that products based on the Intel NUC Compute Element are expected to be in market in the first half of 2020 [1]. Interestingly this provides credibility to an earlier leaked product map:

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