Intel launches a new Atom-based NUC

Lower the power, and the cost.

atom NUC box

Today Intel is announcing the availability of its first real Atom-based barebones NUC kit, the DE3815TYKHE. Despite having a name that looks like it came out of a malfunctioning random string generator this little NUC is actually a bit of a milestone for Intel. Until now Intel’s NUC offerings had been powered mostly by ultra-low voltage versions of its mainstream desktop chips like Ivy Bridge and Haswell. But now there’s finally a relevant Bay Trail version of Intel’s NUC. (We’re ignoring this over priced NUC from the beginning of this year.)

There are a number of benefits to using Bay Trail in this form factor which boil down to two main points: cost and cooling. Looking at the cost side of the equation Intel has managed to get the Atom version of their NUC down to only $129 for the full kit and $99 for just the core components. This prices it quite a bit higher than comparable solutions from AMD’s AM1 platform but it lines up well against Nvidia’s Jetson TK1 offering which costs almost $200, is ARM-based, and will likely crush Bay Trail in raw GPU performance. The cooling side of the equation is interesting because Intel has opted to go with completely passive cooling for this Atom-based NUC.

Atom NUC inside

The particular Atom SoC in this NUC is a single core chip running at 1.46 Ghz with half a megabyte of cache and a 5 Watt TDP. It supports both virtualization and 64-bit OSes. The graphics portion of the chip is clocked at 400 Mhz and offers a variety of display configurations. There is also support for DDR3L SO-DIMMs at 1066Mhz with capacities of up to 8 GB.

The one odd ball feature of this NUC is that it has four Gigabytes of embedded (eMMC) flash storage on the motherboard. According to Intel this is so lightweight OSes and applications can be running on the NUC without adding an SSD or Hard Drive. If you’re looking at this NUC for use in an embedded application it’s clear how this is a worthwhile feature, but it doesn’t make much sense if you’re trying to build a cheap NAS box.

Intel is marketing this NUC as one of the center pieces in its Internet of Things campaign and while the price drop that using Atom chips brings is substantial, Intel’s Atom-based NUC is arguably priced a bit too high to justify what you’re getting. But then again that has always been the classic trade-off of Intel’s NUC lineup; you’re trading performance per dollar for performance per watt and that nifty small form factor. Good on Intel for finally getting a decently priced Atom into a NUC.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.