Intel's NUC line of small computers will live on with another vendor

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2023

While Intel itself has given up on the NUC form factor, long-time compact PC vendor Asus has been licensed to handle all the intellectual property associate with the line.

Intel's Nuc 13 Extreme kit
Intel's Nuc 13 Extreme kit



Small form factor computers were never going away, even after Intel announced it was getting out of that business. Before Intel got into the business, other companies were making machines like the Mac mini and Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC), before there was a Mac mini.

And earlier on Wednesday, the Intel NUC itself got a reprieve by long-time vendor Asus.

"Our NUC systems product team delivered unique products that spurred innovation in the ultra-small form factor market. As we pivot our strategy to enable ecosystem partners to continue NUC systems product innovation and growth, our priority is to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and partners," Intel Vice President Sam Gao said in a statement. "I am looking forward to Asus continuing to deliver exceptional products and supporting our NUC systems customers."

Under the proposed agreement, Asus will receive a non-exclusive license to Intel's NUC systems product line designs, enabling it to manufacture and sell 10th to 13th Gen NUC systems products and develop future designs. The companies say that this will allow Asus to "provide product and support continuity for Intel NUC systems customers."





Asus is spinning off a new business unit to handle the line.

"Thank you, Intel, for your confidence in us to take the NUC systems product line forward. I am confident that this collaboration will enhance and accelerate our vision for the mini PC - greatly expanding our footprint in areas such as AI and AIoT," said Asus chief operating officer Joe Hsieh. "We are committed to ensuring the excellent support and service that NUC systems customers expect."

The NUC grew from a program that the Mac mini spawned



Intel's NUC line launched in 2012, at the tail-end of an initiative by the company to develop small and powerful chips that sipped power. Other manufacturers used the chips that came out of the program -- but not the NUC design -- to build their own compact computers.

Along the way, Apple used some of the same chips. The 2014 Mac mini, launched nine years after the first Mac mini, utilized a chip that grew from Intel's Ultrabook initiative.

And, the hardware from Intel has been incredibly solid for years. After reviewing a NUC extreme kit several years ago that Intel loaned us, this writer purchased one for himself and it is still in daily use -- after some upgrades.

At a glance, this deal appears to be beneficial for both. The deal takes the support burden off Intel as it rebuilds itself. At the same time, Asus benefits from the licensing, branding, and technologies that Intel mostly kept to itself with the NUC line.

For now, Intel still has a page highlighting its portfolio of NUC devices.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 3
    bsd228bsd228 Posts: 6member
    What's the point of a non exclusive license?   Asus didn't need permission to make small computers, just to use the NUC name, and if others can have it too, what's the value?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 3
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,259member
    bsd228 said:
    What's the point of a non exclusive license?   Asus didn't need permission to make small computers, just to use the NUC name, and if others can have it too, what's the value?
    Intel is also giving away the "Intel's NUC systems product line designs, enabling it to manufacture and sell 10th to 13th Gen NUC systems products." This will give any manufacturer with experience in this product category a big jump start on getting identical and updates of existing products built and available for sale. Shorter time to market. There is still a healthy market for these small form factor computers regardless of whether the size of the market is sufficient to justify Intel's investment. Intel has limited time, limited resources, and frankly bigger fish to fry because they are playing catch-up with Apple, AMD, even Qualcomm, just to mention a few. They can't afford to dabble in expensive side hustles and niches, no matter how well executed, in a market that is price driven for high volume commodity products, including PCs. The ROI on their NUC sales may be great, which I doubt, but being great in a niche market isn't good enough for Intel.

    As far as the "NUC" name is concerned, it's already been coopted as a generic term by non-Intel PCs that follow the same basic formula. It's brand value, like its product sizes, isn't very large.

    Why would Intel give these designs away to anyone who wants them? The most obvious answer is that these ready-to-bake designs all employ Intel chips. The designs have been tested, proven, passed regulatory and certification requirement like UL, CE, FCC, etc. Of course the as-built designs from other manufacturers would probably have to be resubmitted and re-certified at least in-part, but the likelihood of discovering expensive and time consuming design-related or manufacturing-related issues should be minimal for anyone who takes Intel up on its offer. I don't know who's been manufacturing Intel's NUCs but maybe ASUS was already involved in some way.

    As a fan of the Intel NUCs, I think moving the stewardship of the product line to ASUS is probably a better-case or maybe even a best-case outcome compared to letting the NUC dissolve into oblivion. The NUC has been a great platform for prototyping embedded PC-based computing platforms before committing to much more expensive hardened industrial hardware. They've also been great HTPC host platform and a convenient way to add a PC sidekick to an otherwise Mac based setup when you want to run your Windows or Linux based applications on real hardware without taking up too much desktop real estate. The PC-reliant scenarios that NUCs can serve have increased since Apple abandoned Boot Camp.
    chasmmuthuk_vanalingamAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 3
    jSnivelyjSnively Posts: 427administrator
    bsd228 said:
    What's the point of a non exclusive license?   Asus didn't need permission to make small computers, just to use the NUC name, and if others can have it too, what's the value?
    They did it all for the NUC-y. I will see myself out.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
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