When is a NUC not a NUC? That isn't a philosophical question--it's something ASRock might have to sort out sooner than later. Earlier this week the company announced what it called "the world's first AMD-powered NUC solution," the iBox-R1000, alongside the new Ryzen Embedded R1000 chip. The problem? Intel coined the NUC moniker for devices using its processors, so it might not take kindly to ASRock's use of the identifier.
But that doesn't mean ASRock's description missed the mark. Anyone looking at the iBox-R1000 would probably call it a NUC as well, regardless of what the company decided to label it. The device packs the Ryzen Embedded R1000, up to 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory, and all the ports most people need into an all-metal 4" x 4" case. It looks like a NUC, offers similar expansion options to a NUC, and targets a similar audience as a NUC.
"We are proud to be the first company in the world to design a NUC 4"x4" form factor computer with an AMD processor," ASRock Industrial general manager James Lee said in the iBox-R1000's announcement. "Our expertise in designing small form-factor computers combined with the multiple features of the AMD Ryzen Embedded R1000 creates the perfect product for applications from Digital Signage to Arcade Gaming and Gambling, Kiosks, IoT Gateway, and Thin Client Terminals."
Those are many of the same purposes a NUC is supposed to serve. Even if the label isn't technically accurate, we wouldn't be surprised if more companies decided to follow ASRock's lead in making miniature PCs with AMD processors and calling them NUCs. It's far catchier than "mini-PC" and helps differentiate these products from systems that fit in small cases but compromise on other aspects of the NUC experience.
Count this as another win for AMD. After stepping in to fill the void left by Intel's ongoing CPU shortage, the company's processors have now found success in several categories, from Chromebooks to devices like the iBox-R1000. The Ryzen Embedded R1000, in particular, could appeal to manufacturers because it enables fan-less designs, includes Vega graphics, and supports numerous operating systems used by embedded systems.
More information about the iBox-R1000 is available on ASRock's website. The company didn't say when the device would debut or how much it will cost. In the meantime, we'll have to see how Intel responds to the co-opting of its device category. Not that it matters--there's enough overlap between the concepts that changing the name wouldn't help. Wasn't it Shakespeare who said, "A NUC by any other name would be just as small?"