Intel’s Compute Cards are dead. But Intel hasn’t given up on the idea of a modular computing device that packs the guts of a modern PC into a small card that can become the heart of a notebook, smart TV, kiosk, or appliance.

Say hello to the Intel NUC Compute Element.

It’s like a Compute Card… but a little different.

Like a Compute Card, it’s basically a small module with the CPU, memory, and storage all baked in.

But the NUC Compute Element supports higher-power processors (up to a Intel Core U-series chip rather than Y-series) thanks to improved cooling, and it features a new proprietary connector which is said to offer better performance and more I/O options.

In theory, putting the processor, memory and storage on a single card makes it easier to upgrade your device. Still happy with your laptop’s keyboard and display? Just open the case, pull out the Compute Element, and put in a new one to upgrade to a next-gen CPU.

In practice, there may be a few down sides. First, in order to upgrade the CPU you’ll also need to replace the memory and storage and you may even need to re-install the operating system (unless it’s loaded on another drive).

Second, Intel hasn’t had a stellar track record of supporting this sort of platform. The Compute Card was canceled less than two years after launch. So who knows if you’ll ever actually be able to buy an upgrade module?

Sure, that’s probably a chicken-and-egg question: if the Compute Card had been more widely adopted, Intel might have supported it longer… and if Intel had supported it longer, maybe there would have been time for it to have been more widely adopter.

The company does say that it designed the NUC Compute Element to address some customer complaints about the Compute Card. So maybe this one is here to stay? I guess we’ll find out in a few years.

Anyway, the fact that Intel’s new modular PC platform is taking on the NUC name is promising… maybe? Intel’s NUC line of mini PCs have been around for years and probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon… although it’s unclear if the same can be said for the latest member of the family.

Meanwhile, Intel says Portuguese company JP already plans to launch a “laptop focused on higher education, teachers, and administrators” that’s built around the Compute Element.

Devices based on the new modular PC platform are expected to hit the streets in the first half of 2020.

Update: Notebook Italia got a chance to go hands-on with an NUC Compute Element and laptop built prototype built around it.

You can find more images and details at Notebook Italia.

via Tom’s Hardware

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2 replies on “Intel unveils NUC Compute Element for modular computers (like a next-gen Intel Compute Card)”

  1. At first glance, I imagine using a compute element to reduce the size of the gadget I carry back and forth with me between home and the office.

  2. So the reason that the compute card failed is that it didn’t have options for U-series or higher performance flash? If that is the case they should have a winning product now. For me, including this with the NUC product line dilutes the solid definition that the NUC had.

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