Intel recently unveiled a new reference design for a palm-sized mini computer with an Intel Core i3 processor. The company’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) platform was originally designed for niche markets such as digital signage and kiosks.
But in case you hadn’t noticed, mini PCs are generating a lot of interest these days — especially when they have low price tags. The Raspberry Pi $35 computer, the $74 MK802, and the VIA APC have all grabbed a lot of headlines in recent months
So it’s no surprise that the NUC platform is also turning a few heads — and Tech Report received confirmation from Intel that we could eventually see retail computers based on the design.
An NUC-based computer won’t be as cheap as a Raspberry Pi. A basic system will probably cost around $400 when it goes on sale during the third quarter of 2012.
But the NUC platform delivers a whole lot more power than the Raspberry Pi thanks to a 17 W Intel Core i3 Ivy Bridge mobile processor, Intel HD graphics, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 2 HDMI ports, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
The little computer will probably also have about 4GB of RAM and a 40GB solid state disk.
All told, an NUC-based PC would probably make a decent media center PC, home server, or even a low power desktop computer.
If the $400 price tag seems a bit high, Intel is also reportedly considering offering a model with a cheaper Celeron processor.
Intel doesn’t sell this type of hardware directly to consumers. You can’t buy a Classmate PC netbook or tablet directly from Intel, for instance. Instead the company works with hardware partners to produce computers based on Intel’s designs.
So if and when the NUC hits retail stores it will likely wear a different brand name.