25 November 2015 / Last updated: 27 Jan 2017

Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC): The PC re-defined

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The Intel NUC falls on the intersection between commercial connected devices and consumers personal computer prompting the question what truly distinguishes the two. Efficiency, size, price or a specific marketing approach? The NUC is balancing act of all of these factors, affording it the title of a mini PC.
We’ve explored how the mini PC has fared in limbo between these two markets and here are our findings.
To begin with, the Intel NUC can be used as a home theater PC or a Steam Machine- style mini game console. But that's only scratching the surface of its potential. The NUC has many applications in the commercial space as well: thin client, digital signage, kiosks, point of sales locations, ATMs, surveillance, vending machines, interactive displays all seem to be a perfect fit.
Intel NUC comes with a number of advantages that are related to its’ size (small/zero footprint), performance (tower –like), security and manageability (built-in confidence), connectivity (easy connection with peripherals), configurability (easy versatility), reusability (combination with new or existing peripherals) and energy efficiency (Lower wattage than tower PCs).
This tiny yet powerful box is sold in two forms: the board and the kit. Even if you buy the kit, you need to supply a number of additional components—and an operating system—before you start using an Intel NUC.
Below is the "family" of the Intel NUC products (the existing and upcoming models with the different launch dates):

Sales figures

Intel hasn’t released sales figures for NUC. However, according to the chip maker:
  • The sales of truly tiny PCs (things near the size of the NUC, Gigabyte's Brix Pro, or Lenovo's M93p Tiny) went from "almost zero in 2012" to over a million units in 2013.
  • The market for the so-called Mini PCs is one of the fastest growing segment[s] in desktops.[^1] It is expected to grow at a 20% compounded annual growth rate through 2018 to reach over 11 million units shipped annually. Another interest element is that the strongest demand comes from businesses: Business covers the 60% of the Total Available Market (TAM) while consumers the 40%.
However, according to the most recent reports of Gartner and IDC, PC shipments continue to decline.

Where is the NUC “gang” gathering?

There are a lot of active communities in the Web but the most active ones are: Intel Communities and AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews.

Companies shipping products based on the Intel NUC

There are many companies out there shipping their own family of mini PCs that they use the Intel NUC’s processors and internals.
However, we’ve only gathered data on companies that have built appliances/devices based on the Intel NUC.
Here’s our data:
So far we have found 22 companies with such appliances/ devices that we can link to. If you know more, help us complete the list by posting in the comments!
Stay tuned for more and don’t forget to check our reports for the the Beaglebone and the HummingBoard.
[^1]:Chuang, Tin Poay & Cheng, Johnny, IDF 2015: “Mini Computing: Optimizing Design to Accelerate New Usage Models"
Photo credit: androidcommunity
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Written by Eleni Natsi.
by Team balenaThe global group of product builders that brings you balena

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