Ivy Bridge processors are going places and enabling various compact computing units. Assisting this progress is Intel’s very own Next Unit of Computing (NUC) that’s smaller than your palm, and yet it packs an Ivy Bridge CPU.
This small palm sized plastic enclosure occupies a footprint of just 10 x 10cm and boasts of a tiny PCB hosts most of whatever you could ever need. Specs include compatibility for up to Ivy Bridge-class Intel Core i3 or i5 processor (or any other ultra low-voltage LGA1155 processor), dual SO-DIMM slots and dual mini PCI Express slots. The system forgoes legacy ports and only features the most required connections like USB 3.0, HDMI and even Thunderbolt (though the initial iteration may not feature it).
Now if you take a step back to peer at what VIA’s US$49 Android PC is capable of and its physical size, Intel’s solution seems to be a far more powerful proposition - but the price point is something that’s still up in the air. Of course, both are intended for different applications, but the comparisons are inevitable from a technical point of view. The Raspberry Pi also comes to mind here, but let’s face it, it’s not an ideal comparison. Even the VIA EPIA-P900, the world’s smallest dual-core single board x86 computer has much to catch-up with.
Geared for commercial deployment, this small Intel computing system also has much practical use in a regular home for a simple internet terminal to even handling HTPC needs.
For HTPC users, if your TV is equipped with an Intel WiDi compatible adapter or has it integrated within, and if you opt for one of these palm sized systems with a WiDi adapter integrated, you could imagine the truly wireless nature of the ecosystem.
The reference platform seen here should be in retail by next quarter and you should see variations of it adopted by certain vendors. Stay tuned to the exciting space of compact x86 computing that seems to have taken off in a big way with low powered Ivy Bridge CPUs.