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Intel shoots for the moon with upcoming mini PC based on ‘Apollo Lake’ CPU

Intel appears to be gearing up to launch a miniature PC based on a new “Apollo Lake” processor that recently hit the market. The specific processor used in this unit is the Intel Celeron J3455, packing four cores with a base clock speed of 1.50GHz and a burst clock speed of 2.30GHz. This processor arrived in the third quarter of 2016 with a price tag of $107.

Here are the hardware specs of Intel’s upcoming miniature PC, with the “bare-bones” version on the left and the full version on the right:

NUC6CAYH NUC6CAYS
Processor: Intel Celeron J3455 Intel Celeron J3455
Memory: 2x empty slots up to 8GB DDR3L
1,660MHz and 1,866MHz clock speeds
2GB DDR3L @ 1,600MHz
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500 Intel HD Graphics 500
Networking: Wireless AC (pre-installed card)
Bluetooth 4.2
Wireless AC (pre-installed card)
Bluetooth 4.2
Infrared: Yes, on the front Yes, on the front
Microphones: 2x on the front (DMIC) 2x on the front (DMIC)
Audio: Intel High Definition Audio
Realtek ALC283 HD Audio
Intel High Definition Audio
Realtek ALC283 HD Audio
Storage: 1x 2.5” SATA slot (empty)
1x M.2 2230 slot
1x EmbeddedMultiMediaCard slot
1x 2.5” SATA slot (empty)
1x M.2 2230 slot
32GB Embedded MultiMediaCard
Includes Windows 10
Ports (front): 2x USB 3.0
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
1x SD card reader (side)
2x USB 3.0
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
1x SD card reader (side)
Ports (back): 2x USB 3.0
1x HDMI 2.0 (full size)
1x VGA
1x 3.5mm audio out jack
1x gigabit Ethernet port
2x USB 3.0
1x HDMI 2.0 (full size)
1x VGA
1x 3.5mm audio out jack
1x gigabit Ethernet port

As the specs show, the bare-bones version of Intel’s upcoming miniature PC won’t include memory or storage: that’s provided by the customer. Additionally, the two memory slots support dual-channel mode and up to 4GB of DDR3L memory in each slot (8GB total) clocked at 1,866MHz.

More: Intel’s next-gen Core i7 leaks ahead of wide release, undergoes testing

However, customers who purchase the fully loaded model should still invest in additional storage given that Windows 10 alone will consume a huge chunk of the provided 32GB of storage. Unfortunately, Intel doesn’t state the capacity limit of the 2.5-inch drive slot, but only shows that it supports a hard drive or solid state disk (SSD) with a maximum height to 9.5 millimeters.

The HDMI portion is provided by MegaChips and supports HDMI CEC, aka Consumer Electronics Control. This support enables end-users to control both the miniature PC and the connected TV simultaneously using a single remote control device. The video portion can also handle 4K content at 60 frames per second on a 4K display via HDMI, and a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution at 60Hz through the VGA port.

News of Intel’s upcoming miniature PC is based on a recently published document regarding the NUC6CAYB motherboard (PDF) used in the two upcoming models. It measures 4 inches by 4 inches, and includes a “thermal solution” that is mounted on top. The processor and cooling fan resides toward the front of the miniature PC while all the hot air is pulled away from the chip and out the back of the unit.

The board’s diagram shows that the two memory slots are located on the left side and the M.2 2230 slot is found on the right. The miniature PC’s ports consume the rest of the board while the SATA 3 connector is located just behind the right USB 3.0 port located on the front.

Right now, there’s no indication of when the new miniature PC will become available, or for how much, so stay tuned for more info. Intel could possibly reveal the miniature PC during CES 2017 in January, if not before the annual trade show.