INTEL HAS TAKEN the idea of a compact all in one PC and come up with 'the Element', a bare-bones PC built into a card that can slot into PCI lanes.
For a couple of years, Intel has been making such compact machines under its NUC (Next Unit of Computing) initiative. While devices like the NUC Hades Canyon effectively delivered a compact mini PC, the NUC initiative also saw the development of the NUC Compute Element in 2017.
This business card-sized device effectively held the guts of a motherboard, processor, and memory, to provide some essential PC components in a single plug-in module.
The Element, as Intel told Anandtech to call it, is an evolution of that but a good bit bigger.
Looking a bit like a PCI-e graphics card, the Element prototype seen by Anandtech uses a BGA Xeon processor with integrated graphics and comes with two SO-DIMM RAM slots and M.2 slots for storage.
It also comes with a brace of Ethernet ports, four USC Type-A ports, an HDMI connection, and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt connectivity.
The idea behind such a device is that it'll eventually provide a way for hardware makers to create modular PC, whereby the Element is removable and can be swapped out for more powerful Elements in the future without the need for a PC's chassis and other bits to be replaced.
Essentially, it's a way to simplify the modular nature of PCs and could pave the way for hardware makers to get more interesting with PC form-factors.
We wouldn't be surprised to see Intel also take the Element and work it into a next-gen NUC device.
But there's a good chance the Element will be an enterprise-specific device, say providing a way for businesses to mount a load of PCs in a server chassis without needing to delve into the world of virtualisation or rely on cloud services.
However, it's early days for the Element, so we'll have to wait and see what intel, and potential partners, do with the prototype hardware. µ
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