It appears Intel has just leaked the new version of the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC, the pint-sized PC form factor the company started to promote several years ago. New hardware has appeared, unannounced, on the official NUC webpage.
The miniature computers are simple silver and black boxes that measure about five inches wide and five inches deep by two to three inches tall. Each is powered by an Intel NUC board which is only four inches on a side and has a processor soldered to it.
What processor? That’s a key question. NUC is not new; versions with 3rd-en and 4th-gen Intel Core processors have been available for some time. What Intel just posted appears different than the systems and NUC boards that came before, however, leading to speculation that it’s based on Broadwell (aka 5th-en Core).
Other new features visible in the pictures include a sleep-and-charge USB port and an M.2 SSD slot. The latter is an expansion card format that allows the use of hardware much smaller than a typical SATA or even mSATA drive. Its availability means the new NUCs will be slightly more compact than those that came before.
The board also includes a standard SATA port, USB 3.0 and room for two laptop RAM DIMMs.
While NUC is promoted by Intel, it doesn’t intend to become a system builder. As with ultrabooks, the purpose of the initiative is to popularize a design that might become popular with consumers. Manufacturers and hobbyists can purchase NUC boards for their own builds. A new page on Intel’s site lists eight new kits, but they don’t include hardware specifications as yet.
We’ll probably hear more about the new NUC at CES 2015. Whether or not this leak was intended is unclear, but it lines up with what is likely to be addressed at the Las Vegas show. Intel’s continuing rollout of its 5th-en Core products is almost certain to be a focal point, and a new NUC announcement would fit snuggly into that narrative. Hold on; we’ll know more in just a few weeks.
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