Another cool article by Russ Fischer
There was no announcement by Intel (INTC), no dog and pony show, but this might be one of the big things on the horizon.
NUC is The Next Unit of Computing. It is a 4.5" x 4.4" x 1.5" box. The box effectively replaces desktop computers. The NUC has an x86 motherboard, Wireless LAN, a Solid State Drive, and DRAM memory and some other subsystems.
The curious thing about this is the way I learned about it. My son-in-law called me one day and mentioned they were re-doing all their IT equipment, but not with notebooks and not, heaven forbid, with desktops or towers. They were using NUCs. I asked him what a NUC was. When he was through, he had described a desktop computer that would fit in your hand. They cable tied them to the back of their monitors. I didn't think much about it until my wife came home from a city council meeting last night. She is the mayor of our little town. Turns out that the city council had just approved $151,000 worth of new IT. The seven-year-old notebooks were to be retired, and not replaced. They were using NUCs! The present system had become unstable and was down much of the time as a result of all the different hardware and software used in different ways throughout the city. Now, with a NUC-based system, the staff could suck their work down from the cloud, do work, take notes, etc. When at work, they are able to access the cloud again and have everything they had been working on at home.
Nothing surprisingly new, but the city's system is expected to become more stable and usable. The reason that I am so impressed by our city selecting NUCs is that I personally know how much effort they expend researching this kind of thing.
One occurrence is a curiosity, but two occurrences of using NUCs starts to smack of a trend.
Intel has some videos on the website here and here. The system is available on Amazon (AMZN), so they must be serious about it. Short mixed review of NUC here. i7 NUC coming.
This is the greatest re-run in history. If you want to know how desperate INTC is, wait for them to throw an acronym at something. If it gets an acronym, they are spending billions. All this is, Bots, is a motherboard with connectors on it. OMG, you will fall for anything.
Funny, I suggested that in 1997 and was told it was foolish. Google for MMO (Mobile Modules Operation.) INTC tried this themselves and found out it wasn't an efficient enough way to rip off customers and the entire facility was shut down. This is a fifteen year old re-run. INTC is desperate for anything. Anything. I cannot believe how desperate they are, but I am glad they are finally having to struggle a little bit, just like the hundreds of startups they crushed.
NUCs are totally cool. Putting them on the back of a monitor is a great idea. It looks like you don't have a system unit at all.
I still haven't found any place that has them pre-configured with RAM, SSD card and the Bluetooth/WiFi card. If anyone knows where they are available, please post it up.
Pricing starts around $300 and is about $600 with a complete configuration.
Logic Supply First to Offer Core i5-based 'Rend Lake' Intel NUC Motherboard from Tom's Hardware
Logic Supply is officially the first to sell the D53427RKE 'Rend Lake' Intel NUC motherboard, the first Intel NUC motherboard to feature a Core i5 CPU.
Earlier we reported that the upcoming NUC motherboards would feature Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. Now Logic Supply has tweeted that it is the first to retail the Rend Lake NUC motherboard. This is the first Intel NUC motherboard to feature an Intel Core i5 CPU. The Core i5-3427U CPU aboard is clocked at 1.8 GHz. This NUC board goes by the model number D53427RKE.
If the upgrade to a Core i5 CPU wasn't interesting enough, external connectivity has also been revised. The board now has one front USB 3.0 port, two rear USB 2.0 ports, another two USB 2.0 ports through an internal header, an HDMI 1.4a port, two Mini-DisplayPort 1.1a ports, and lastly, Gigabit Ethernet. The board also supports up to 16 GB of DDR3 SODIMM memory. Other internal connections include a PCIe-Mini slot (half-length), as well as a full-length mSATA slot.
The board is already in stock at Logic Supply's webshop for a price of $399. Oddly enough, we haven't seen any official announcements for enclosures for the D53427RKE board, and it won't be compatible with existing enclosures because of the different rear I/O layout.
[Apparently there are third party enclosures for the NUC...]
I found one pre-configured:
Directron NUC PC 3: Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) BOXDC3217BY, Intel Core i3-3217U 1.80GHz, Intel QS77 chipset, Intel 525 Series 240GB mSATA 6Gb/s Internal SSD, and 16GB SODIMM DDR3 memory
That said, we did manage to get a hold of a couple images of what appears to be Logic Supply's upcoming ML300 fanless NUC enclosure. The rear connectivity appears to still have the old layout, though from the looks of it the rear metal part of the casing can be swapped out. The enclosure also appears to be a little bigger than the standard size, and the image shows some interesting ideas for use of the cargo space. It doesn't appear to be listed on Logic Supply's website yet, however, we imagine it won't be long until it does.
So, this thing has the CPU, the SSD, the DRAM, the WiFi, the comm channels, including Thunderbolt. It occurred to me that this is what I have been muttering about in some other recent articles, just in a little bigger format. It takes a little time for it to sink in that this is not a Dell or HP product, this is an Intel product. The SSD and DRAM and all the bits are sold by and bought from Intel directly.
It also dawned on me that the industrial/business upgrade cycle of PCs is happening; they just look a little different this time. To the extent that NUC is successful, Intel will directly supply multiple times the dollar value of compute products it is currently supplying indirectly though the PC makers. Unlike the speculation in previous articles, Intel would not likely manufacturer the DRAM and NAND components used in the NUC except through its Joint Venture with Micron (MU), but the entire processor board comes from Intel and at least some of the other subsystems (think SSD) will be bundled with the NUC system.
If Intel NUCs are accepted by the market in a big way, how are the third party market analysts, who revel in the continuing prediction of the demise of the PC, going to count all the PCs sold? They haven't done a very good job of that the past few quarters anyway, so if NUC makes up 15-20% of PCs sold, they will continue to underestimate the PC market.
The NUC was intended for signage automation, kiosk management and other more industrial applications, however, as PC World says, "it makes a good little home PC." The article also mentions that Intel is quick to point out that the company is not in the business of selling complete systems -- nor does it intend to enter that business with the NUC. Of course, that is exactly what it has done, probably out of frustration with the creative lethargy at its two largest customers, HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL).
Just another small reason to own Intel.