Next Unit of Computing

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Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a small form factor PC designed by Intel. Its first generation is based on the Sandy Bridge Celeron CPU. Its second generation CPU is based on the Ivy Bridge Core i3 and Core i5 processors. Its third generation is based on the Haswell architecture. Its motherboard measures 4 × 4 inches (10.16 × 10.16 cm).[1]

The barebone kits consist of the board, in a plastic case with a fan, an external power supply and VESA mounting plate.[2] Intel does offer for sale just the NUC motherboards, which have a built-in CPU, although (as of 2013) the price of a NUC motherboard is very close to the corresponding cased kit; third-party cases for the NUC boards are also available.[3][4]

Models[edit]

These tables show some of the key differences between the models of the Intel NUC.

First generation (Sandy Bridge)[edit]

This UCFF motherboard and system kit are codenamed Ski Lake (DCP847SK) and Deep Canyon (DCCP847DY) respectively.

Intel kit Intel board Processor GPU Max RAM Display External USB ports Networking
DCCP847DYE DCP847SKE Celeron 847 HD Graphics 2000 16 GB HDMI 1.4a (×2) USB 2.0 (×3) Gigabit Ethernet (×1)

Second generation (Ivy Bridge)[edit]

The base UCFF motherboard and kit without Thunderbolt or USB 3 are codenamed Golden Lake (D33217GK) and Ice Canyon (DC3217IY) respectively. The Thunderbolt capable UCFF motherboard and kit are codenamed Campers Lake (DC33217CK) and Box Canyon (DC3217BY) respectively. The USB 3 capable UCFF motherboard and kit are codenamed Rend Lake (D53427RK) and Horse Canyon (DC53427HY) respectively.

The stripped-down DC3217BY model has a signature red top cover and no Ethernet. This model, while stocks were still available, generally sold for a deep discount. The absence of Ethernet may be mitigated by using a USB 2.0 to 10/100 fast Ethernet dongle based upon the Kawasaki LSI one-chip adapter (KL5KUSB102, for example). The DC3217BY runs MacOS X (10.9, 10.9.1, 10.9.2 or 10.9.3) flawlessly as the processor's HD4000 is fully supported by MacOS X. Of the two video ports, Thunderbolt/Display Port and HDMI, mDP is the most dependable for MacOS X. Sound is not provided by the basic chassis, but may be provided by a generic USB dongle, C-Media, for example.

Intel kit Intel board Processor GPU Max RAM Display External USB ports Networking
DC3217IYE DC33217GKE Core i3-3217U HD Graphics 4000 16 GB HDMI 1.4a (×2) USB 2.0 (×3) Gigabit Ethernet (×1)
DC3217BY DC33217CK Core i3-3217U HD Graphics 4000 16 GB HDMI 1.4a (×1); Thunderbolt via mDP 1.1a (×1) USB 2.0 (×3) N/A
DC53427HYE D53427RKE Core i5-3427U HD Graphics 4000 16 GB HDMI 1.4a (×1); mDP 1.1a (×2) USB 2.0 (×2); USB 3.0 (×1) Gigabit Ethernet (×1)

Third generation (Haswell)[edit]

Haswell-based Wilson Canyon Intel NUC, rear panel

UCFF motherboard (D34010WYB and D54250WYB) and system kit (D34010WYK/D34010WYKH and D54250WYK/D54250WYKH) models based on Wilson Canyon[5][6] containing Haswell processors were revealed in June 2013.[7]

Intel kit Intel board Processor GPU Max RAM Display External USB ports Networking Internal 2.5 SATA
D34010WYK D34010WYB Core i3-4010U HD Graphics 4400 16 GB Mini HDMI 1.4a and mDP 1.2 USB 3.0 (×4) Gigabit Ethernet (×1) N/A
D34010WYKH D34010WYB Core i3-4010U HD Graphics 4400 16 GB Mini HDMI 1.4a and mDP 1.2 USB 3.0 (×4) Gigabit Ethernet (×1) Yes (×1)
D54250WYK D54250WYB Core i5-4250U HD Graphics 5000 16 GB Mini HDMI 1.4a and mDP 1.2 USB 3.0 (×4) Gigabit Ethernet (×1) N/A
D54250WYKH D54250WYB Core i5-4250U HD Graphics 5000 16 GB Mini HDMI 1.4a and mDP 1.2 USB 3.0 (×4) Gigabit Ethernet (×1) Yes (×1)

Third generation (Bay Trail-M)[edit]

This UCFF motherboard (DN2820FYB) and system kit (DN2820FYK) model are based on Forest Canyon.

The DN2820FYKH product itself is mis-marked DN2820FYK, but the retail package, all retail documentation, and Intel's web site correctly identify this product as DN2820FYKH. The "H" indicates support for internal 2.5" media, SSD or HD. There is no "non-H" version of this product as it does not include an on-board mSATA connector, hence media which is external to the board is mandatory, and hence the "H" version.

This product introduces for the first time a new 12 volt, 3 amp "wall wart", in place of the traditional 19 volt, 3.42 amp power brick and its "Mickey Mouse" ac power cord. Four region-specific plug-on adapters, including North America and three overseas countries, are included in the retail package.

This model is shipped with the BIOS at revision 13, but revision 13 will not recognize most low voltage SO-DIMMs (these are seen as having zero GB capacity) and keyboard escapes to get into the various BIOS functions can be problematic. Also, legacy booting is not supported, and only UEFI booting is supported and even that is problematic.

BIOS revision 34 is available and this solves all current problems, certainly including proper recognition of most low voltage SO-DIMMs, keyboard escapes and legacy booting.

The most reliable way to update to BIOS revision 34 is to download FY0034.BIO from Intel's support site, write it to the root of a small USB flash drive and use the F7 keyboard escape to force BIOS FLASHING. After about five minutes, the BIOS will be updated and all noted problems will be resolved.

However, even with BIOS revision 38, the DSDT, which is found in /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/DSDT, is malformed, and will not compile using most compilers; so, at least for MacOS X Hackintoshes, the best choice is a DSDT-less installation, which, fortunately, is an option of several recent installation methods.

The Intel WiFi card which is included in this model has proved to be quite good, as is the supplied internal antenna. The 2.5" media bay is somewhat different than earlier bays (perhaps a consequence of excessive cost reduction), but it is still quite functional.

Intel kit Intel board Processor GPU Max RAM Display External USB ports Networking Internal 2.5 SATA
DN2820FYK DN2820FYB Celeron N2820 HD Graphics 8 GB HDMI 1.4a USB 2.0 (×2); USB 3.0 (×1) Gigabit Ethernet (×1); Wi-Fi 802.11bgn, Bluetooth 4.0 Yes (×1)

Bay Trail-I[edit]

This UCFF motherboard (DE3815TYB) and system kit (DE3815TYK) models based on Thin Canyon.

Intel kit Intel board Processor GPU Max RAM Display External USB ports Networking Internal 2.5 SATA
DE3815TYKHE DE3815TYBE Atom E3815 HD Graphics 8 GB HDMI, VGA, embedded DisplayPort USB 2.0 (×2); USB 3.0 (×1) Ethernet Yes (×1)

Reception and ecosystem[edit]

The NUC was seen by some reviewers as Intel's response (or adoption) of the Apple Mac Mini format,[8] although it is actually smaller, physically.[9][10] Given its kit nature, other reviewers have seen it as a more powerful Raspberry Pi,[11] particularly since the NUC boards could be bought without a case.[12]

Most of the third generation NUCs come in two case sizes, one with room for a 2.5-inch drive, and one without. The smaller cases lacking room for a 2.5" drive still have an internal SATA connector (including SATA power).[8][13][14][15] Some larger third-party cases have appeared that can fit such drives.[4]

The Intel case is actively cooled with a fan. Silent PC Review note that “The original Intel NUC had "the distinction of being the quietest fan-cooled mini-computer we've come across." The NUC D54250WYK [Haswell-based], with the same cooling system, sounds exactly the same. In normal use, you can't hear the fan until your ear is inches from the unit.”[16] Nevertheless, passively cooled third-party cases have appeared on the market as well.[3] Larger or metallic third-party cases provide lower operating temperatures as well.[17]

A review by The Tech Report of the pre-production 2012-vintage NUC found that the NUC would seize up after a few gigabytes were transferred over wireless, and that the problem could be alleviated by better cooling of the NUC case. Intel later increased the default fan speed for production machines through a BIOS update (downloadable from Intel's web site for "early adopters").[18]

Regarding power consumption, in their review of the D54250WYK with a Haswell i5-4250, Silent PC Review concluded that "An idle power level of just 6W and typical use power barely into two digits is very impressive in one sense; in another sense, it's what you find in current Ultrabooks using similar components."[19]

Other companies have subsequently adopted a form factor similar, but not identical, to Intel's NUC. For example, Gigabyte Technology launched their BRIX series, which attempts to differentiate itself using more powerful components, up to the i7-4770R processor, which embeds Intel Iris Pro Graphics.[20]

The pre-Haswell Core i3 and Core i5 NUCs will run Mac OS X Mavericks flawlessly[citation needed]. The Haswell-based NUCs require a modified mach_kernel, which modifications are freely available from the OSx86 community. Mac OS X expects and requires HD4000 or better graphics, including HD4400 or HD5000 graphics, and for which Mac OS X has specific built-in support. Pre-HD4000 graphics, including HD2500 and pre-HD2500 graphics, can be supported in a very few cases, but never with full acceleration (which would be indicated by a transparent menu bar).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halfacree, G (March 2013). "Intel's Next Unit of Computing". Custom PC (Dennis Publishing) (116): 14–15. 
  2. ^ Intel NUC product specifications "Intel NUC", accessed 2013-06-10.
  3. ^ a b "Tranquil PC launches a fanless case for Intel’s NUC | Chips". Geek.com. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  4. ^ a b "Akasa Rolls Out Tesla H NUC Case". techPowerUp. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  5. ^ Intel’s Haswell “Wilson Canyon” NUC smiles for the cameras
  6. ^ Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK Review – The NUC Gets Haswell Power!
  7. ^ Tom's Hardware Guide, "3rd Generation of Intel NUC Boards Shown at Computex, 2013-06-07, accessed 2013-06-10.
  8. ^ a b "Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK: Review" (in French). Digitalversus.com. 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  9. ^ "Intel NUC review". PC Pro. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  10. ^ 1/09/14 4:00pm Thursday 4:00pm. "Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case". Lifehacker.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  11. ^ Ingredients (2013-07-31). "How to Build a NUC". Maximum PC. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  12. ^ "Blog - Intel NUC - a mini-PC revolution?". bit-tech.net. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  13. ^ Kirsch, Nathan (2013-09-18). "Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK Review - The NUC Gets Haswell Power! - Page 5 of 7 - Legit ReviewsGeneral NUC Performance". Legitreviews.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  14. ^ Niels Broekhuijsen. "3rd Generation of Intel NUC Boards Shown at Computex". Tomshardware.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  15. ^ "Haswell comes to NUC". silentpcreview.com. 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  16. ^ "Haswell comes to NUC". silentpcreview.com. 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  17. ^ Gharaei, Vahid (2013-11-22). "Tranquil PC D33217GKE NUC Case Review". techPowerUp. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  18. ^ "Intel tackles NUC heat issues with fan speed tweak, SSD fix". The Tech Report. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  19. ^ "Haswell comes to NUC". silentpcreview.com. 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  20. ^ "GIGABYTE BRIX Pro: A First Look at the Intel i7-4770R with Iris Pro HD 5200". AnandTech. 2014-01-07. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 

External links[edit]