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Intel's New Mini PCs Have New Chips, an Updated Design, and Thunderbolt 3 ( 92

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the last four or five years, Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" (NUC) hardware has evolved from interesting experiments to pace cars for the rest of the mini desktop business. Mini PCs represent one of the few segments of the desktop computing business that actually has growth left in it, and every year the NUC has added new features that make it work for a wider audience. This year's models, introduced alongside the rest of Intel's new "Kaby Lake" processor lineup at CES, include new processors with new integrated GPUs, but that's probably the least interesting thing about them. Thanks to the demise of Intel's "tick-tock" strategy, the processing updates are minor. Kaby Lake chips include smaller performance and architectural improvements than past generations, and the year-over-year improvements have been mild over the last few years. The big news is in all the ways you can get bytes into and out of these machines. There are two Core i3 models (NUC7i3BNK and NUC7i3BNH), two Core i5 models (NUC7i5BNK and NUC7i5BNH), and one Core i7 model (NUC7i7BNH) -- that last one is intended to replace the older dual-core Broadwell i7 NUC and not the recent quad-core "Skull Canyon" model. The Core i3 and i5 versions come in both "short" and "tall" cases, the latter of which offers space for a 2.5-inch laptop-sized SATA hard drive or SSD. The i7 version only comes in a "tall" version. Like past NUCs, all five models offer two laptop-sized DDR4 RAM slots and an M.2 slot for SATA and PCI Express SSDs (up to four lanes of PCIe 3.0 bandwidth is available). Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi is built-in. As for the rest of the NUCs' features, Intel has drawn a line between the Core i3 model and the i5/i7 models. All of the boxes include four USB 3.0 ports (two on the front, two on the back), a headphone jack, an IR receiver, an HDMI 2.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a microSD card slot, a dedicated power jack, and a new USB-C port that can be used for data or DisplayPort output (the dedicated DisplayPort is gone, and this port can't be used to power the NUCs). In the i5 and i7 models, the USB-C port is also a full-fledged Thunderbolt 3 port, the first time any of the smaller dual-core NUCs have included Thunderbolt since the old Ivy Bridge model back in 2012.
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Intel's New Mini PCs Have New Chips, an Updated Design, and Thunderbolt 3

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @03:03AM (#53602753)

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      At least we know how defeat the intel one.
      People should work on defeating the AMD thing as well, then will be all fine.. until they patch it up.

      • Whereas the AMD model, unless it turns out that the single encrypted blob is actually multiple blobs, like in the intel firmware, is a single signed os image booted by the ARM Trustzone processor built into the newer CPUs/SoCs as a 'management, encryption, and authentication processor'.

        If it turns out not to be a chain of encrypted blobs like the Intel ME firmware turned out to be (after 6-8 years!) then it will be impossible to disable or replace it without AMD offering a 'trustzone kill' signed image that

    • You mean the features people have in the past been paying a premium for?

  • Two ethernet ports (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Suggestion for Intel: just put in it a second gigabit ethernet (with OSS drivers, please) and become the king of the security-concious/I-like-to-control-my-network crowd. I would buy it just to avoid searching into the compatibility matrix of Tomato/OpenWRT/etc

    • A few seconds with Google and I found this USB 3.0 to Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet Adapter NIC []

      -- Pete.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Routing with a USB LAN adapter?


        • A USB 3.0 LAN adapter can, at least in theory, be fast enough for a router. But there is a catch: they generally use a lot more of your CPU than LAN ports on the motherboard or on a PCI or PCI Express card do. And I'd rather not be at the mercy of an Ethernet port that can get unplugged by accident; USB ports, unlike Ethernet cables, do not have retaining clips.
    • by heson ( 915298 )
      Stick a vlan capable switch in front of it and tag two VLAN inside and outside. It will be faster than most consumer grade router/firewall even if it does share 1Gbit for bort in and out.
      • Child: Mommy, buy me a license plate!

        Mother: No. Come along, Bort.

        Man: Are you talking to me?

        Mother: No, my son is also named Bort.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They have thunderbolt ports - you can do thunderbolt to dual 10G if you really want.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Aye, dual Ethernet is the feature that seems to be missing from them. There are of course workarounds involving USB3 dongles but I'm not sure if any of the common ones using ASIX chips have support in something like pfSense, although apparently there is a driver for ESXi that will support them as NUCs have been popular lab machines for VMware setups.

      Even if the dongle solution works in a given use case, it's still a cursed dongle and not the clean built-in port solution.

      In addition to the second Ethernet p

    • If networking is your thing, then you want one of these instead: []
    • Is there a reason that Ubiquiti's offerings won't work?

      I've had an Edge Router Lite for a while now and it works just fine.

    • What you request is available now []. Granted the WiFi card isn't yet supported by pfSense (should be when they get to the current OpenBSD version) but the dual NICs are. I have one (120GB SSD and 8GB RAM) as my network firewall at home and it keeps up just fine even running Squid doing MitM of HTTPS plus sending all web traffic through ClamAV and with Snort in IPS mode. One of these days I will finish getting VPN setup on it and my mobile devices so that I can connect in and not have to worry about someone o
    • Even if you go wireless for all the end points, you still need wires to connect the access points. (Don't bother me with replies about wireless bridges; I don't need to waste radio bandwidth on that infrastructure.) If your network is large enough to need more than one AP (I need three to get good coverage of my three story house; it's an old house with plaster and lath walls which means more signal attenuation than a modern house) you'll need a wired port and an Ethernet switch to hook those up.

      I also pref

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thunderbolt just reminds me how "Intel appear to be doing whatever they can to limit application of Thunderbolt to eGPU by making vendors use 25W PCIe slots, instead of 75W or making Thunderbolt enclosures way too expensive. *Appears* to be a company survivalism/profit strategy to prevent migration towards CUDA/OpenCL GPU-based processing instead of Intel's CPU processing." [] []
  • Another little device not powered by the common power available in industrial or commercial or automotive power systems. For many use cases this is a non-starter, and the number one reason I bought a Fit-PC instead.

    • This would do the trick if it's 19v DC (adjustable up to 38v DC): []

      Usually I'm converting up to 12 volt DC and not with electronics, so I use a $5 buck converter. The product above provides more safety features.

      • Good catch (sort of).

        Just dug through ARK looks like the NUCs now support 12-19VDC. At least they are now suitable for automotive, but still need an additional supply for industrial 24V applications.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Odd, I have more 19V power bricks than I can shake a stick at. The Thinkpads, Toughbooks, etc... all have 19V supplies.

      • Odd, I have more 19V power bricks than I can shake a stick at. The Thinkpads, Toughbooks, etc... all have 19V supplies.

        Words 12, 14 and 16 of my post were industrial, commercial and automotive.
        In fact in all the 37 words of my post I never mentioned laptops at all. So I can only assume you wanted to tell everyone you have loads of 19V supplies. Well... congratulations. Have an internet cookie for your collection efforts.

  • I sure wish these things could run Mac OS out of the box. I'm not sure the Mac mini or Mac Pro will ever be refreshed.
  • I've tried a few models NUC and Intel Stick over the last few years, the fans are tiny running at a million RPM so they would start whining a few minutes and then crash because the thing got too hot.

    Wake me up when they come with a sub-$100 model that has 4G of memory and runs Android, Linux and doesn't overheat. If I wanted a $400 barebone, I'd buy from any number of manufacturers that had the thermal stuff figured out a decade ago (eg. Shuttle) .

  • Sounds like this would make a great little media box, but it's a shame it doesn't (appear to) have HDMI CEC support -- it looks like adapters cost about as much [] as a Raspberry Pi (which supports HDMI CEC out of the box!).

    It seems like a silly feature, but it's been incredibly useful for my RPi media center -- the ability to switch between an app (Yatse) and a physical remote is very handy.
  • Why must all hardware be only in black and silver?

    Apple did only a few things right, and attractive hardware is one of them (the others were: having a gadget ready to use after unboxing, and streamlining the interface to eliminate fiddly, irrelevant and distracting bits).

    Every time I look at new machines, I am struck by how we insist on making them uglier than dump trucks.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison