Intel preparing for big mini-PC push

April 21, 2015 | 12:36

Tags: #atom #compute-stick #core #miniature-pc #mini-itx #mini-pc #next-unit-of-computing #nuc #quark #roadmap #rumour #sff #small-form-factor

Companies: #intel

Intel is rumoured to be pushing heavily into the small form factor market, planning increased manufacturing, R&D and marketing spends for its lowest-power and smallest-footprint products in its ongoing fight with Cambridge-based rival ARM.

That Intel is courting mobile, embedded and small form factor customers isn't news, of course: the company has in recent years announced a plethora of products aimed at these markets, from its tablet-oriented Atom chips to the ultra-low-power Pentium-based Quark processor. At retail, Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) has enjoyed reasonable success which it hopes to replicate with the launch of its ultra-tiny Compute Stick devices - inspired, undeniably, by the typically Android-based devices arriving from China with bitter rival ARM's processors inside.

While Intel has shied away from a formal roadmap for its compact computing products, industry rumour-monger DigiTimes claims to have word from local supply chain sources which indicates Intel is putting its considerable money where its mouth is with a big push for its small form factor devices. According to the unnamed sources, Intel is looking to strengthen its position in the market with increased research and development and marketing spending, in response to what is claimed to be 'strong demand from customers.'

By the end of the year, the sources claim, Intel will have launched campaigns targeting five segments: more mainstream mini-ITX products; 'mini-PC' products featuring an overall volume below one litre; the NUC range; the Compute Stick; and the Mini-Lake PC, an Atom-based miniature machine designed to sit below the NUC in the product line and first unveiled by Intel customer Elite Computer Systems (ECS) at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

As a result, it's perhaps no surprise to find ECS named as the customers with which Intel is collaborating on the products, alongside Gigabyte and Zotac who are claimed to be enjoying brisk sales and high margins on the miniature devices they have launched so far.

The final piece of the puzzle, DigiTimes' unnamed sources claim, is a plan by Intel to shift away from the low-power Atom chip in favour of more powerful Core-family processors to improve functionality and performance. This, it is claimed, will be joined by the inclusion of features such as wireless charging, wireless display (WiDi), and Intel Security's True Key unlocking system, presently designed with mobiles in mind and allowing devices to be unlocked and passwords auto-filled using a paired mobile device or facial recognition.

Intel has not commented on the site's claims, but is known to be working on future low-power chips and related product lines.
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