Intel NUC History: Formation, Generations, Acceptance

May 2021

At Simply NUC, our dedication to providing clients with the very best Intel NUC and mini-PC options is unmatched. From completely customizable mini PCs to accessories and numerous solutions, we offer powerful small form factor computers for a variety of business and home uses.

Not only are we dedicated to finding our customers the best computer solution based on their unique needs, but we also have a great appreciation for the technical advances that have allowed our company to thrive. While the Intel NUC itself was introduced to the computing world less than a decade ago, it’s gone through several major evolutions and made strides in performance improvement. This two-part blog series will go over the general history of the Intel NUC and give you a glimpse into the background of its technology.

NUC Definition & Formation

First of all, let’s define the Intel NUC, which is short for “Next Unit of Computing”. Invented and designed by Intel, the NUC began conceptualization in late 2011 (more on this in a moment). The barebone Intel NUC kits consist of a 4”x4” motherboard, in a plastic case with a heatsink and fan, an external power supply, and a VESA mounting plate.

The Intel NUC has been through numerous iterations since the first generation came out in the first quarter of 2013. The following sections will go over these broadly and discuss how the Intel NUC has become a viable segment of the mini PC industry.

First Generation: Ice Canyon

The first generation of Intel NUC was launched in 2013, but it’s important to note that this was actually the culmination of many years of research and observation within the computer industry. Simply put, Intel realized that the variety of portable computing devices at that point in time was not diverse enough – and performance of products like netbooks was simply not enough.  Furthermore, laptop PC technology advancements were driving scalable performance in an ultracompact and low profile footprint.  Examples include BGA processors, SO-DIMM memory, and M.2 SSDs.

Based on these factors, Intel decided to come up with something new. Its first generation NUC, Ice Canyon powered by a Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor, was launched in the first quarter of 2013 with a UCFF motherboard and system kit. UCFF stands for “ultra-compact form factor”, which was an idea that originated at Intel but now has been cloned by many other hardware vendors. Ice Canyon and other initial NUC versions used varying processors, from Core to Celeron and Atom. From the start it was clear that compact small form factor computers would have a future in many market segments, and over the years they’ve only grown in popularity and success. 

Becoming a Family of PCs

With time, the NUC and related mini PC products have become their own family within the computing world. They’ve been upgraded in features and performance, going through about ten different distinct stages. In part two of our series, we’ll go over a few of the specifics of NUC generations and how they’ve evolved to their current state.

For more on the history of the Intel NUC, or to learn about any of our mini PCs, speak to sales at Simply NUC today. 

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories.

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