Feature Articles

Intel's Next Unit of Computing

Intel's Next Unit of Computing


Intel's Next Unit of Computing

At IDF 2012 today, we spotted this ultra tiny motherboard at one of Intel's Technology Showcase booth. Known as the Next Unit of Computing, it's a self-contained motherboard that comes built with a dual-core 3rd generation Intel Core i3-3217U processor along with the Intel QS77 Express chipset. Although not the fastest processor in the Core i3 lineup, the 1.8GHz processor is definitely not a pushover in terms of performance. You can still get quite a lot done, considering the entire system easily fits into the palm of your hand.

The board measures only 4-inch by 4-inch (101.6mm x 101.6mm) and it's sized in between a nano-ITX (120mm x 120mm) and a pico-ITX (100mm x 72mm) motherboard. So although theoretically it'll fit into a nano-ITX chassis, Intel's version doesn't really come with a typical I/O layout suitable for commercially available boxes. You'll need to get one custom tailored for this, or use the standard chassis that comes along with it.

There are several versions of the board, but typical specifications for one of the boards availabe are as below:-

  • Intel Core i3-3217U processor (dual-core, 3MB cache, 4 threads, 17W)
  • Intel QS77 Express chipset
  • Dual channel SODIMM DDR3
  • 2 SODIMM slots, 16GB max.
  • HDMI
  • Thunderbolt
  • 2x PCIe mini slots
  • 2x Internal USB 2.0 via 2x5 header
  • 2x USB 2.0 connectors on back panel
  • 1x USB 2.0 connector on front panel
  • Supports new mobile SATA (SSD) card via full-length PCIe mini card
  • 2-pin 19V DC internal power header, 65W power supply required
  • External power supply connector

According to Intel, these will begin shipping in the United States in October and will cost you as much as US$399. Besides the board, you'll also get the chassis and an external DC power supply. As an option, users can also purchase a VESA mount which lets you attach the chassis to the back of your display.