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Intel Hardware

Hands-On With Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" Mini PC 177

crookedvulture writes "Intel's Next Unit of Computing has finally made its way into the hands of reviewers. The final revision is a little different from the demo unit that made the rounds earlier this year, but the concept remains the same. Intel has crammed what are essentially ultrabook internals into a tiny box measuring 4" x 4" x 2". A mobile Core i3 CPU provides the horsepower, and there's a decent array of I/O ports: USB, HDMI, and Thunderbolt. Users can add their own memory, storage, and wireless card to the system, which will be sold without an OS for around $300. Those extras raise the total price, bringing the NUC closer to Mac Mini territory. The Apple system has a bigger footprint, but it also boasts a faster processer and the ability to accommodate notebook hard drives with higher storage capacities than the mSATA SSDs that are compatible with the NUC. If Intel can convince system builders to adopt the NUC, the future of the PC could be a lot smaller."
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Hands-On With Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" Mini PC

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  • We'll see about that (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @04:22AM (#42038001)

    which will be sold without an OS for around $300

    Microsoft doesn't care. They'll be sure to tax these "naked" PCs anyway. Intel will rue the day they think they can get away without paying the Windows fee.

  • Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @04:23AM (#42038003)

    Need to be smaller and cheaper and plug together like lego to allow me to add processing power. Now that I'd buy.

  • Re:lol wut (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @05:57AM (#42038413)
    Indeed. If the price tag was lower I could see a market for it, but at $300 you can build/buy a significantly better box.

    This "NUC" has an i3-3217U (1.8ghz / 2C)

    You could get an A6-5400K (3.6ghz / 2C) for $65, an FM2 Micro ATX motherboard (USB 3.0 / SATA 6GB / DVI+HDMI / 2x DDR3 1866) for $50, and a MicroATX Slim case with 300W power supply for $75, totaling $190

    Better CPU, better GPU, has multiple PCIE slots (with at least one 2.0 x16) and you can upgrade it. This Intel brick for $300..$320 (I read the article) has the CPU soldered on, and no PCIE slots so no upgrades of any kind ever, and the price quote doesn't include memory (which is why I didn't include any.)

    I'm sure that you could also put together a better performing Intel box (using a Celeron G5xx series for instance) for about 60% of the money as well.

    Looks to me like Intel over-produced some CPU's and/or chipsets and are looking to find a market for them.
  • by tuppe666 ( 904118 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:02AM (#42038431)

    First, every computing-capable non-mainframe computer is a PC.

    Second, there will always be a need for PCs with "normal" computational capacity

    I am not convinced that we will in a post-pc always connected world maybe. but I disagree with you justification on defending a PC as a "personal computer", because tablets/Smartphones albeit incredibly powerful computing devices, and not tradition [Desktop] PCs. Ironically you recognise this by saying smartphones and tablets cannot do [well do badly], by accessing that traditional PC's [what you call "normal"(sic) PC's].

    I'm kind of tired of people trying to defend traditional PC's. If you create Stuff [CAD; Programming; Large Documents; Design], as opposed to consume things on the couch or on the Public transport You use a PC. The reality is most people here have tablets; PCs; Smartphones and know what niche they all occupy [or know why they don't want one].

  • by sgunhouse ( 1050564 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:05AM (#42038717)

    Ever seen one of those Acer Aspire Revo "nettops"? Mine is the original - 1.6 GHz Atom processor (64-bit), nVidia Ion onboard graphics, 7 USB ports, ethernet, HDMI and VGA. Current models use an AMD processor and graphics for $329 or Intel I3 and Intel graphics for $499. (The $329 model has no optical drive, the $499 model has an 8x DVD+/-RW drive.)

    The case on all of the above is about 1.5"x8"x8".

    Actually, given that I'm not certain what the NUC is supposed to be offering. Slightly smaller form factor, that's about it ...

  • Re:Bah (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:40AM (#42038889)

    YES! I knew I wasn't alone!

    I've been wanting a PC-based system that expands like LEGO for over a decade now. However, I don't insist it be smaller. In fact, I want it bigger. 4" x 4" x 2" is too small. 4" x 4" x 4" (or 100mm x 100mm x 100mm for the normal parts of the world) is much better. That provides enough room for a CPU, a GPU, a standard notebook hard drive, and a standard 80mm fan. With a certain amount of squeezing, a CPU, a GPU, and a second GPU, each on its own board, stacked one on top of the other, and still with room for a hard drive. If the product takes off, offer additional configurations, such as dual CPU + GPU, or quad CPU no GPU, or single CPU + 4 hard drives, or single CPU + single GPU + 2 hard drives. Add a whole boatload of off-board signals on the chipset on the CPU card and run those signals to pinless contacts in each of the 6 faces of the cube. Round springloaded contacts might do. Add extra contacts for a DC power bus. I was told by an Intel test engineer, years ago, that PCI-e in its external connector incarnation could probably work well under these conditions. Hold cubes to each other with magnets at the corners, arranging the polarities of the magnets to force the correct lineup of the boards and exhaust fans into wind tunnels.

    Software would be tricky. Ideally you would want an arbitrary collection of cubes to be able to self-organize into a ccNUMA system. In practice, you may want dual mode software. Default coupling might be as a compute cluster, and only manually enable ccNUMA when you know a particular collection of cubes is going to be stable long term.

    Give the standard configuration cube (whichever one that might be) 1 DC power connector, 1 gigabit ethernet port, 1 Displayport, and 4 USB ports. Vary the ports as needed for the other configurations. Add some external LEDs for indicators of power and compute coupling mode and voila, an arbitrarily expandable compute platform that scales from a minimum of one cube to some silly maximum that is probably only hit when thermal management gets out of hand.

    Someday I'll have money enough to have some boards designed... Someday.

  • Not modular? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flappinbooger ( 574405 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:27AM (#42039161) Homepage

    When I saw it called the "unit" of computing I thought maybe it was modular so I could snap together a few "units" of them to make it faster, bigger, etc.

    Shoot, make it NOT expandable at ALL and simply modular, so more ram, more hd, more proc, etc, just click it together. Have variations, different colors mean more ram or more hard drive. Pair a unit with more ram with a unit with more processor.

    Otherwise, whats the point? They've made a nettop with an i3 rather than a atom? Ok...

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354