This week, Avram Piltch talks about the Intel NUC and the future direction of the product line. In the past, the company has released a limited array of models and configuration options to correspond with its processor upgrades. While the line has never been incredibly popular, it has been consistently stable.
This year, the company announced a change of direction, but one that is also familiar. The next generation of NUC will no longer be just an Intel-branded product. Instead, it will become a product standard, powered by the Intel NUC Compute Element - a self-contained computing card. These cards will plug into a daughterboard for power and provide the essentials of the computer. The manufacturers, including Razer and Adata, will provide both fully built and bare-bones models that customers can customize.
These systems can be upgraded, unlike previous models. They support discrete graphics cards for the first time. There are also upgradable RAM and SSD. The biggest upgradable component, though, is the Compute Element itself. When you need more power, you can simply replace the Compute Element and the system is upgraded.
If this idea sounds familiar, it's because it is. The concept is very similar to Intel's Compute Card, right down to the name. The Compute Card was designed to power embedded devices, such as smart TVs. The idea was that, rather than replacing the television, you could simply replace the Card. This would, theoretically, avoid the situation where Hulu and Netflix recently stopped supporting older smart TVs.
Like the Computer Card, the NUC Compute Element sounds like it is a solution looking for a problem. The price is higher than a regular PC while being only slightly smaller and being powered by laptop hardware. The video cards may be desktop quality, but the processors are not. Intel is going to have trouble finding an audience for this product.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.