Although most users associate Intel with processors for consumer and server PCs, the company has an extensive track record of experimenting with various computing form factors and wild ideas. The Next Unit of Computing, or NUC, was one of the company's ideas that paved the way for small form factor desktop computers with barebone internals and relatively affordable price tags. Sadly, after ten years on the market, Intel is nuking its NUC project.
In a statement to STH, an Intel representative confirmed previously circulating rumors about the company abandoning NUC:
We have decided to stop direct investment in the Next Unit of Compute (NUC) Business and pivot our strategy to enable our ecosystem partners to continue NUC innovation and growth. This decision will not impact the remainder of Intel's Client Computing Group (CCG) or Network and Edge Computing (NEX) businesses. Furthermore, we are 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.
Intel launched the first-generation NUC kit in the Sandy Bridge days in 2013. The original NUC offered the somewhat uninspiring Intel Celeron 847 processor with up to 16GB of RAM (sold separately). However, in later generations, Intel expanded the project with more powerful Core i3, i5, Atom, and other chips.
At one point, the company even partnered with AMD to produce Intel Core processors with Radeon graphics to power the gaming-focused Intel NUC Hades Canyon. Also, some recent NUC models come with the NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU, giving users more horsepower to run demanding games and apps.
It is sad to see Intel abandoning the NUC project. Despite being a niche product far from the mainstream market, Intel NUC had distinct advantages and flexibility (check out our recent Intel NUC 13 Pro review). One can only hope Intel's partners will carry the flag and not let the form factor die.