Intel’s Ghost Canyon NUC and Compute Element: 10 questions and intriguing facts

    Intel’s Ghost Canyon NUC and its Compute Element card had been two of probably the most intriguing items of {hardware} proven by the corporate at CES 2020. They could also be tiny, however they signify some massive modifications to small-form-factor PCs. Here are the important thing questions and info about this new technology.

    Gordon Mah Ung

    The again of the Compute Element card options two Gigabit ethernet ports, 4 USB Type-A ports at 10Gbps, and an HDMI 2.0a port, together with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a combo analog and optical SPDIF port.

    What are Intel’s Ghost Canyon NUC and Compute Element? 

    Intel’s Ghost Canyon NUC is a mini-PC (also referred to as a small-form-factor PC), and so is the Compute Element within it. That’s not a brain-bender, however a brand new, modular method. Where prior Intel NUCs had their very own motherboards, the Ghost Canyon NUC is actually a shell with an influence provide, plus a baseboard that takes the Compute Element, a full-fledged PC on a PCIe card. Theoretically, when you wished to improve your Ghost Canyon NUC, you’d simply take away the previous Compute Element and put in a brand new one. 

     Intel’s Compute Element options both a Core i5, Core i7, or Core i9 cell CPU, in addition to two RAM and two M.2 slots. Although some distributors have stated the 2 M.2 slots on the Compute Element card are SATA, Intel’s now-published documents say they are often configured as both SATA or NVMe, relying on the motive force put in. The board includes a vapor chamber for cooling plus a small fan, in addition to WiFi 6. 

    Compute Element board Gordon Mah Ung

    Compute Element board with two SATA M.2 drives and RAM modules put in.

    Is the Compute Element proprietary to Intel?

    Intel stated it plans to construct and promote the Compute Element card. One massive query is simply how proprietary the cardboard is. Given that it’s mainly like stripping the keyboard, audio system, show, battery, and shell from a laptop computer and slapping the motherboard right into a PCIe card, most of that may be doable for a vendor to copy.

    Intel officers stated whereas they aren’t encouraging third events to construct their very own Compute Elements, they’re additionally not discouraging it. So on the proprietary scale, we’d in all probability put it at 3 out of 10.

    CM246 vs HM370 Intel

    Intel’s consumer-based Compute Element playing cards might be constructed on the corporate’s CM246 industrial chipset.

    What’s particular concerning the Compute Element chipset?

    Intel stated all Compute Element playing cards might be based mostly on the CM246 chipset for its Xeon CPUs, even when it rocks a consumer-focused Core chip. Officials stated that was finished to simplify the boards, as there are Xeon-based variations as nicely. The bonus for customers would be the 24 PCIe lanes obtainable from that CM246 chipset, versus the 16 lanes of the patron HM370 chipset.

    compute card 10 pin Gordon Mah Ung

    The Compute Element baseboard makes use of a non-standard 10-pin connector to energy up. The connector is definitely only a discount of pins from the 24-pin Main Power Connector.

    What’s up with the baseboard’s non-standard 10-pin connector?

    Most of the mini-PCs we noticed from CyberPower, Ibuypower, Razer, and Cooler Master function SFX or SFX-L energy provides contained in the chassis. While the PSUs seem like off the shelf, the Intel baseboard is powered by a non-standard 10-pin connector. That’s not finished to mess with individuals—it’s probably a call to maintain the board measurement manageable.

    We’ve spoken to PSU makers who say the 10-pin is only a mixture of among the energy pins from off-the-shelf PSUs. A easy cable will make it straightforward to adapt to present PSUs. And no, they haven’t any plans to promote the 10-pin to customers immediately.

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