Intel is best known for making chips, but for the past ten years the company has also been designing and selling computers under the NUC brand. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, and the idea a decade ago was to give Intel a platform to push its vision of what a computer could be… first with a line of small form-factor desktop computers, but eventually with modular PCs, laptops, and other products.
Now Intel is exiting the NUC business. The company hopes to see hardware partners continue to keep the vision alive though.
The news was first broken by ServeTheHome, which noted that Intel has begun notifying partners that it will “stop direct investment” in the NUC business. After that article was published, Intel reached out to ServeTheHome (and several other websites) to confirm the news.
It was always kind of strange to see Intel operate in this space, which put the company in direct competition with the PC makers that it sells chips to. But the NUC lineup clearly inspired a number of companies to adopt Intel’s ideas.
Many of the mini PCs we’ve seen in the past ten years are clearly inspired by Intel NUC designs, and some are basically branded versions of Intel NUC systems like the NUC Extreme line of modular gaming PCs.
But that’s been true for a long time, so it’s unlikely that competing-with-the-customers is the primary reason for Intel’s decision to exit the space.
More likely? As Engadget points out, Intel revenues have been falling fast as PC sales overall are slowing and the company faces increased competition from AMD, Apple, and ARM-based chip makers.
Shutting down a non-essential division like the one responsible for the NUC line of computers will let Intel continue to focus on its core chip business.
For now, Intel says the company “working with our partners and customers to ensure a smooth transition and fulfillment of all our current commitments – including ongoing support for NUC products currently in market.”
In other words, the latest Intel NUC systems like the NUC 13 Pro, NUC 13 Rugged, and NUC 13 Extreme should continue to be supported for at least a while. But don’t expect to see NUC 14 series PCs with Intel Meteor Lake chips anytime soon. Instead you’ll have to look to other PC makers for compact computers with next-gen Intel processors (or AMD chips, as the case may be).
Update: Some of the partners Intel mentioned are starting to respond to the news. For example, Simply NUC is a company that got its start by selling and supporting Intel NUC systems, but which has branched out over the past few years with a few original designs (and some models with AMD chips).
In a statement, Simply NUC Chief Marketing Officer John Deatherage says the company is “prepared to continue ramping their investment in mini PCs and the NUC product line as Intel has announced their intention to stop investment in this area.”
Before coming to Simply NUC in 2019, Deatherage spent two decades working at Intel, where he was involved with the launch of the NUC business.