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Intel Hardware

Intel Unveils Tiny Next Unit of Computing To Match Raspberry Pi 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the small-like-you dept.
MrSeb writes "Details of a new, ultra-compact computer form factor from Intel, called the Next Unit of Computing (NUC) are starting to emerge. First demonstrated at PAX East at the beginning of April, and Intel's Platinum Summit in London last week, NUC is a complete 10x10cm (4x4in) Sandy Bridge Core i3/i5 computer. On the back, there are Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB 3.0 ports. On the motherboard itself, there are two SO-DIMM (laptop) memory slots and two mini PCIe headers. On the flip side of the motherboard is a CPU socket that takes most mobile Core i3 and i5 processors, and a heatsink and fan assembly. Price-wise, it's unlikely that the NUC will approach the $25 Raspberry Pi, but an Intel employee has said that the price will 'not be in the hundreds and thousands range.' A price point around $100 would be reasonable, and would make the NUC an ideal HTPC or learning/educational PC. The NUC is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2012."
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Intel Unveils Tiny Next Unit of Computing To Match Raspberry Pi

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  • by Junta (36770) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:20AM (#39844805)

    A design that, sans CPU, optimistically would cost 4 times as much as raspberry pi? CPUs that by themselves notably cost at least $250 right now?

    To get to the Raspberry pi functionality, looking at $350 investment. That's more than an order of magnitude more expensive. I know the solution will be more powerful than raspberry pi, but the nearly all the excitement around raspberry pi revolves around price point.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A) I don't really think that anyone but the person who wrote the Slashdot headline actually thinks this thing and the Rasberrpy Pi belong in the same category.

      B) At this point, we have nothing but complete speculation as to what this will cost or what you will get for whatever that cost is. However, your $250 number was way off base. A Core i3 Sandy Bridge can be found for $100 right now, a price that only figures to go down significantly in the months until this new board's release, since Sandy Bridge is

      • by Morty (32057) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:33AM (#39844969) Journal

        A) I don't really think that anyone but the person who wrote the Slashdot headline actually thinks this thing and the Rasberrpy Pi belong in the same category.

        RTFA. The comparison to Rasberrpy Pi was in the article.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          A) I don't really think that anyone but the person who wrote the Slashdot headline actually thinks this thing and the Rasberrpy Pi belong in the same category.

          RTFA. The comparison to Rasberrpy Pi was in the article.

          Also in the article was the statement that it

          targets digital signage and kiosks

          which is not really the Pi-in-the-skies forte.

          • So, Intel just hack the popularity of the Raspberry Pi to try selling is future product or make customer delay their own near to orders for the Raspberry Pi.

            FMAU (F... Marketing As Usual)

            • Sorry for all the typos. I was a little bit annoyed by the marketing strategy to surf on the Raspberry Pi popularity and make people talking about their product for cheap while it isn't really a competitor.
      • by Junta (36770)

        They said specifically they had the mobile socket. Find me a mobile core i3 sandy bridge for $100.

    • by RaceProUK (1137575) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:27AM (#39844901)
      For that price, you may as well buy a cheap laptop. Bung something like edubuntu on, and bam - portable educational PC on a budget.
      • The company I work for wanted a cheap, portable computer for mobile archiving. We found an i5 quad core/4GB ram/750GBhdd for about $375 at the local Best Buy, not even on sale. And that includes the processor, the monitor, and a VGA output.

      • I'm assuming they meant educational about actual PC hardware. If they didn't, they're retarded: why is a computer better suited to educational applications because it's *small*?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm thinking the critical variable will be availability. If you're waiting forever for your Raspberry Pi or end up paying a scalper a higher price, higher priced commercial offerings like this may very well win out. Honestly I don't think Raspberry Pi is going to ever manage to produce enough to meet demand at their current price target.

      • I'd be fairly surprised if this exact product ever sees the light of retail, intel kicks out prototypes of stuff all the time; but it would entirely fail to surprise me if some substantial percentage of boring-business 'ultra-small-form-factor' systems and 'compact' consumer PCs are running variously OEMed trivial variants of the design soon enough...
      • by hackula (2596247)

        Honestly I don't think Raspberry Pi is going to ever manage to produce enough to meet demand at their current price target.

        I am not sure if they will either, but it I do not see why making more should make the price go up. When we are talking economies of scale, the price invariably goes down, not up.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:33AM (#39844967)

      Sorry, but nobody's missing the point.

      Intel didn't draw any comparison to the Raspberry Pi (unsurprisingly, since this is far more comparable to the Mac Mini platform), so they're not missing the point.

      Extremetech knew that controversy generates page views generates ad revenue, so when they drew a NUC/R-Pi comparison, they knew exactly what they were doing -- bullshitting to generate controversy. They're not missing the point of a modern, ad-fueled tech site, this is how it's "supposed" to work.

      Slashdot is just like a modern, ad-fueled tech site, but with lower overhead due to no writers and no real editors -- the more stories they approve, the better, and again, if it contains "controversy" (i.e. bullshit) from upstream, that just means more page views, cha-ching! So they're not missing the point.

      If anything, maybe you're missing the point -- you seem to think these sites are about news, not about selling your eyeballs to advertisers for money. It's all about money, nothing about news.

    • by MrSeb (471333)

      I'm fairly sure that this will come with a bundled CPU. Look at the heatsink/fan assembly -- it's like a laptop. Asking consumers to fiddle around with that would be a bit silly.

    • Not just that, but this is a double sided board. Making any installation thicker than a Rasp. Pi.

      I don't see why they can't just make a true bare bone board at a very low price point.

      Nevermind. No profit margins on a $5 board.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      CPUs that by themselves notably cost at least $250 right now?

      If the article is correct in guessing the whole thing comes in at around $100 (including CPU), I would be very interested. (To me the specs would imply look more like $200-$225). This would be a perfect "dumb terminal" with enough power to run a browser locally so you get sound, video and flash games (which don't work on an real dumb terminal, e.g. x11). The Pi would cannot do that.

      The Mac Mini, by comparison, is over $500. This Intel does

      • by Junta (36770)

        That's a big problem with the article, a *lot* of guessing. Intel seemed merely to say 'kiosks and signage, and probably not near the thousands of dollars'. There is a whole world of difference between that and 'a raspberry pi killer for $100' that the article leaps to..

      • by fnj (64210)

        Simply put, the article is a heaping load of shit. The board alone, minus CPU, RAM, drive(s), enclosure, etc., might POSSIBLY come in at $100, but a complete system would be AT LEAST $500. And those CPUs are like burning furnaces. It'll take a pretty sophisticated cooling system to keep them from burning up, and it will likely be pretty noisy.

        But this is FAR more powerful than you need for a dumb terminal or thin client. An Atom can do what you're talking about (browser, flash games, sound).

        • by timeOday (582209)

          But this is FAR more powerful than you need for a dumb terminal or thin client. An Atom can do what you're talking about (browser, flash games, sound).

          I dunno, video playback and flash games are quite CPU intensive. Unfortunately, I have yet to see hardware acceleration work properly in Flash for Linux (for playing youtube videos - and many are not available in the HTML5 test).

          That said, a little Atom box might work, I haven't tried extensively. So far I've simply found it cheaper and simpler to get

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah not really seeing the connection to the Pi, heck the chip alone is $250, not exactly anywhere near Pi. Now maybe if they had used an Atom, like those $80 AMD E350 boards? Then I could see a comparison. But all this is is something many of us have seen, car computers. There are a few companies out there building little bitty X86 units for cars and that's what this reminds me of, NOT the Pi. And how much juice does an i3 suck? The E350 is 18w, the Pi I can't recall but I remember its some teeny number, I

    • by adisakp (705706)

      CPUs that by themselves notably cost at least $250 right now?

      To get to the Raspberry pi functionality, looking at $350 investment.

      You can buy a 3.06GHz i3 for $100 from Amazon [amazon.com] right now.

      Plus from reading the article, it sounds like the $100 price point is what Intel is planning on targetting with some sort of Core-i series CPU included.

      • by adisakp (705706)
        FTA:

        Price-wise, Birang, speaking to Just Press Start, says the NUC will “not be in the hundreds and thousands range,” and that Intel is still looking at “different kinds of SKUs.” It almost certainly won’t be as cheap as the $25 Raspberry Pi, but a price point around $100 would be realistic. Judging by the heatsink and fan assembly, the NUC will probably come with a CPU pre-installed — and hopefully some RAM, too.

        • by Junta (36770)

          Judging by the heatsink and fan assembly,

          So the case comes with that baked in, but at the same time:

          a CPU socket that takes most mobile Core i3 and i5 processors,

          So basically, we have a demo unit, unclear marketing, and lots of speculation.

          It is not unheard of for specialty cases to come with custom cpu coolers, even when they don't come with processors, so the conjecture that a device including a custom cooler logically includes a processor is pretty baseless.

      • by fnj (64210)

        Bzzzzt. Thank you for playing. You lose, unfortunately. We all lose. This thing has the MOBILE socket, not the colossal desktop socket. Mobile processors are much more expensive than that. You'll be lucky to see the BARE BOARD come in at $100. If the article implies the CPU is included for $100, the article is SPECTACULARLY WRONG.

    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      From the article: According to Fred Birang, a senior product marketing engineer at Intel, the NUC is primarily targeted at digital signage and kiosks — but I’m sure we can all agree that it would make an awesome set-top home theater PC (HTPC), or an introductory system for kids. ... Where does this leave Raspberry Pi? At 8.5×5.5cm, the Raspberry Pi is still a fair bit smaller than Intel’s NUC (and at 2cm deep, it’s probably thinner as well). ... Price-wise,... It almost certainl

      • Intel makes some decent, and damn cheap, atom boards(This model is among the cheapest [logicsupply.com]). Unfortunately, those are a bit on the large side: normal ATX and P4 power connectors, and a full PCI slot are nice for compatibility; but they strongly suggest that the board hasn't been tightened up nearly as much as it could be. For whatever reason, Intel has left the yet-smaller niches to VIA, who still manage to charge north of $200 for their ultracompact x86 boards, despite tepid performance. I'm not quite sure why
      • by tibman (623933)

        These are pretty cool: http://www.gumstix.com/ [gumstix.com]

        Super tiny!

    • by tibman (623933)

      Yeah, i agree. This is a 100$ motherboard... a tiny motherboard yes, but still completely useless without ram, cpu, and blah.

  • They don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:23AM (#39844843)

    that embedded computing is not about HDMI and USB ports. Give me serial peripherals, I2C, Ethernet, and all this in a *single* system-on-chip, so I don't have to add support chips around the core.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Atmel?

    • Maybe, but part of the excitement of Raspberry Pi is that you can hook it up to a TV via HDMI and get either a cheap media center box or computer.

      • by c++0xFF (1758032)

        That's exactly his point. The reason the Raspberry Pi can be hooked up to a TV via HDMI is because the HDMI is on a SoC, so no support peripherals are needed.

    • No, you don't get it. This is mainly aimed at being an HTPC. What you're looking for are these [soekris.com] and these [pcengines.ch].
    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      There are a lot of uses for these types of boards for a lot of different types of people. For me, I wanted a board that I could turn an old monitor into an electronic dashboard; VGA would have done the job but HDMI is workable. I went with a BeagleBone with the DVI board for that project, but I would have been better off with a Raspberry Pi had they been available. Another project is much better suited for an Arduino.

      But... for pretty much everything you will need some kind of expansion capability, which

    • by wardred (602136)
      While there are people getting excited about it for embedded uses, the stated goal for the Raspberry Pi is for educational and programming uses. So it really is aimed at being more of a really cheap desktop than an embedded device.

      Doesn't mean that you can't use it in embedded applications. Things like the Gertboard should help on that front.
  • by omershapira (2446398) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:23AM (#39844845)
    It's far more powerful, probably consumes far more as well, and has no I/O pins, which is kind of the point in cheap SOACs like Raspberry Pi. Oh, and it won't be "lock up your daughters" cheap either. If anything, for spec and output, it sounds like a competitor in the Mac Mini ballpark.
  • by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:25AM (#39844869)

    Nobody will be able to find the memory ports because they're SO-DIMM.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:29AM (#39844925) Homepage Journal

    I doubt the guts of my laptop are much bigger than that once you tear out the scree, keyboard, DVD drive, superfluous external ports.

  • Intel goes and finishes the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classmate_PC [wikipedia.org]. Before starting a new project?
  • Umm? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#39845013) Journal
    Yo Dog, I herd you like mac minis, so I spent the past seven years hitting a mini with the ugly stick and then released it as some sort of revolutionary device... Seriously.

    Just for giggles, I then compared it to an entirely different device based around a smartphone processor and in an entirely different price bracket. This makes total sense, just trust me.

    Now, purely in itself, a standardized teeny-ATX motherboard would be nice(especially if we'll someday be able to get mini-PCIe cards that aren't NICs in any quantity... If Intel is planning one, that seems like a good thing all around: the world is already cluttered with various proprietary teeny-motherboard things, and it'd be nice to have a bit of unification in that area.

    However, I'm just not seeing the novelty here: The x86/embedded/industrial market has been rotten with teeny motherboards for almost as long as there has been an embedded x86 market, most laptops are built around small x86 motherboards by necessity, and some comparatively niche players, along with Apple, have released desktop products of not dissimilar size already. Historically, they've been fairly expensive, since minaturization isn't free, and Intel has no reason to cut margins on their silicon if they can avoid it. If Chipzilla has decided to drop the hammer and specify where teeny motherboards Shall put their screw holes, great; but that would be about the only new aspect of all this...
    • by ediron2 (246908)

      If Chipzilla has decided to drop the hammer and specify where teeny motherboards Shall put their screw holes, great; but that would be about the only new aspect of all this...

      Great comment; and this one sentence's 4+ levels of LOL. You nailed many of the ironies from TFA and in Intel's design, but left one unmentioned -- Intel and the article seem to be overreaching for a comparison to sip some of the attention from: a nonprofit project by a few academics in the UK. The zillion-dollar-marketing-machine you

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Historically, they've been fairly expensive, since minaturization isn't free

      For sure that's some part of it, but the biggest reason is that laptops used to be a business segment with business prices. You paid a huge premium to get things like power savings on the CPU, not because of different production costs but because you were segregating the residential and professional market. There was a rather huge market turnaround when they found out they could make more money selling laptops to everyone rather than have it as a high-price niche, it was a completely different pricing struc

  • New form factor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joehonkie (665142) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#39845017) Homepage
    Who says this is supposed to be competition for the Raspberry Pi at all? Intel is trying to integrate as much as possible into their native chips. A shrink in form factor for lightweight PCs completely makes sense in that line.
    • I'm thinking that this could put MetroUI into the living room with a tablet input or some such. Kinect might be pushing it, unless it's got much better voice control than Win7 does.
  • Price be damned (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:42AM (#39845065)

    IMHO, the goal should be to make a ubiquitous embedded platform for building appliances. To that end, the device needs to be low power so that it could run on batteries. It also need to run a real OS e.g. Linux but the catch here is that it needs to completely boot in a few seconds at most especially if it's faceless. Products from Technologic Systems make great strides towards this but their sub-2-second boot times are to Busybox and don't include USB initialization. USB adds another 4 seconds to the boot time. Six seconds is reasonable for a faceless system but anything longer than that and the user will wonder if it's working or not. Booting to Debian takes way too long. Beyond this, such systems need to be tolerant of power loss. Running off batteries means a real power switch. Any file system that takes minutes to check after a power loss is out.

    Make it so.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:43AM (#39845079) Homepage Journal

    You can already get an Atom-powered mini-ITX for only 70$USD [logicsupply.com].

    The crazy thing is that you could probably fit two of these new NUC boards into the case of an old C64, along with a power supply and a hard drive.

  • So, a motherboard with no RAM and no CPU, in the $100 range, I can see. But with Thunderbolt, too? I know the Thunderbolt cables are a bit pricey because of the chips built into those, but are the Thunderbolt controller chips *that* much cheaper than the cable chips?

  • by monkeyhybrid (1677192) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:02AM (#39845299)

    This sounds great. If they can get it to low enough price and don't intentionally cripple it to avoid it eating into their more mainstream product sales, it will be ideal for low power servers, car computers, etc.

    BUT... it's not in the same league as the Raspberry Pi, not on price and not on application.

    A NUC, with CPU, GPU, RAM, etc, (and presumably a profit margin?) is never going to be in same price range as the Raspberry Pi. It may not be in the 'hundreds and thousands range' (note the plural on hundreds) but I can't see this happening for $100 either. Maybe closer to $180 to start with. That alone puts it in a different league than the $30 Raspberry Pi, especially when it comes to education and the potential for it to be damaged. The raspberry Pi is almost disposable compared to this, making it ideal for use by children, for experimentation and hobbies.

    And with regards to power consumption, a Raspberry Pi uses what, 2-3 Watts? The NUC, even with a low power mobile processor is never going to match this. Super low power consumption makes the Raspberry Pi useable for applications like small robotics, mobile or external projects where the only power source may be battery, solar, etc. You can run the Raspberry Pi off AA batteries for a decent amount of time.

    Also, the fact this requires a fan means it will probably be broken within weeks, if not hours, once placed in hands of experimenting children unless they're simply used as traditional computer devices, in which case there's not much point in using this over a normal PC. The Raspberry Pi's are meant to be tinkered with, have pins for daughter boards that children can make themselves, etc. I can't see many school children making use of the NUC's PCIe expansion ports so easily and affordably!

    I think the price point alone kind of rules this out from being widely used in education. Schools may be able to afford one or two per class if they're lucky, but what's the point? They most likely have at least that number of x86 PCs sitting idle in the same room? At least with Raspberry Pi you can have children working in pairs, with a device for each pair, or maybe over time, one each. And if they break it, it's not exactly the end of the world.

  • The total cost for one of these systems is going to be more than a cheap Netbook. At least with a Netbook I have storage to put an OS, lots of ports, Wifi built in, and much more. I've converted my old Acer Netbook into the playrooms HTPC, and it's small enough that it takes up very little space.
  • It looks just like an AppleTV, but expandable. If they can figure out a cheap way to get a processor and memory on board, it would be an ideal platform for all the XBMC tinkerers out there.

  • First of all, from the summary:

    A price point around $100 would be reasonable, and would make the NUC an ideal HTPC or learning/educational PC.

    Guess what? Pretty much any cheap computer picked from eBay makes for a great learning/educational PC! What Intel is creating here is a full high-performance general-use computer, not some simple board for embedded projects. A way better comparison could be found from the Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX form factors, which for some reason never really took off (not many products). If you can educate me, why is that, I'd be appreciated. Maybe Mini-ITX was "small enough"?

  • There are lots of embeddable PCs available now. Most of them are in the $100 upwards price range provided you buy enough of them. This puppy doesn't sound much different from what's already available. Though if it's power requirements are so high that it needs a fan, I have to think it's rather missed the point of embeddable or single board computers meant to be part of a larger device.
  • A price point around $100 would be reasonable, and would make the NUC an ideal HTPC

    With fan noise, no chance of being admitted to the average living room ("Wife Acceptance Factor").
    Even if you claim to have found the rare bird known as geek girl... ;-)

  • There are also eoma68 cards in the works using the AMD Fusion APU's that will only use open source firmware so you won't have to settle for EFI or a closed BIOS as you have to with Intel.

    1ghz Dual-Core CPU with AMD Radeon HD 6250 GPU,
    http://rhombus-tech.net./amd_g_series/ [rhombus-tech.net.]

    AMD APUs for Notebooks, Netbooks & Tablets
    http://www.amd.com/US/PRODUCTS/NOTEBOOK/APU/Pages/tablet.aspx#3 [amd.com]

    AMD Embedded G-Series Platform
    http://www.amd.com/us/products/embedded/processors/Pages/g-series.aspx [amd.com]
    http://www.amd.com/us/Documents/49282_G-Series_platform_brief.pdf [amd.com]

    • by Junta (36770)

      you won't have to settle for EFI or a closed BIOS as you have to with Intel.

      I don't get the practical benefit of coreboot over EFI/BIOS.

  • So is Intel trying to blow some new life into PC104 standard? StackableUSB is much nicer...
  • "Nuc Nuc nuc!!!" Woob woob woob! Nyahhhhhhhh yah yahhhh..."

  • Stupid comparison. Must be a stupid article, I won't bother reading, as obviously they don't know what they are talking about.

    Small form factor is not new. ITX (Mini, Nano, Pico) have been around for years and years.

    Raspberry Pi is a totally integrated 25$ ultra low power computer not a lot bigger than a thumb drive.

    Intel has something that is modular, is 4" by 4" square, will cost over 100$, and not include a CPU, Memory, Etc... and will need a significant power supply.

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop

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