Intel Replaces Compute Card With NUC Compute Element

Intel made waves earlier this year with the unannounced cancellation of its Compute Card products, a removable card with onboard CPU, memory, and storage that the company designed for modular platforms. Today at Computex 2019, Intel announced the replacement for those products: NUC Compute Element.

The NUC Compute Element shares the same philosophy of enabling modular compute platforms, but isn't strictly designed as a removable card. Instead, the small device, which houses a CPU, memory, and storage, is designed to be assembled inside various types of devices, such as notebooks, kiosks, vending machines, and appliances, but uses an removable Intel-proprietary connector for easy servicing.

The new proprietary connector enables higher performance and more I/O connectivity, while the form factor and single-sided heatsink enables Intel to move up a tier from the Y-series processors supported with the Compute Card to more powerful U-series processors.

Intel displayed a notebook designed around the NUC Compute Element cards. The NUC Compute Element houses up to an Intel 15W U-Series processor, but can tolerate adjustments to the TDP (cTDP) up to 28W to accommodate higher-powered notebooks. That is dependent upon the cooling solution, though, and most devices, such as appliances, will use lower-power Y-series processors with lower TDP ranges. OEMs can use either fan- or passively-cooled solutions based upon their needs. Some versions of the cards also support vPro to enable remote management features.

Notably, Intel's NUC (Next Unit of Computing) line of products has previously been confined to the popular line of small desktop models, but the new Compute Element brings that branding to mobile form factors.

Intel expects the first wave of NUC Compute Element devices to land in the first half of 2020.

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • Brian_R170
    I can see the use for digital signage, etc., but are they implying we'll see upgradeable laptops, all-in-ones, etc.? I suspect most OEMs don't want that since they'd rather sell you a new one or a more-profitable proprietary part.