Details of Intel's smallest ever x86 form factor are slowly emerging. Named NUC, or the Next Unit of Computing, the motherboard measures up at a diminutive 4 inches on each side (about the same profile as a CD jewel case), yet still supports the same Sandy Bridge Core i3 and i5 processors used in laptops. Alongside the hefty processor, the unit has two slots for RAM, two mini PCIe slots for expansion, as well as Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB 3.0 ports.
While designs like Nano-ITX, Pico-ITX, and Mobile-ITX are all smaller than Intel's NUC (not forgetting the Raspberry Pi), they aren't designed to accomodate modern, high-power processors. Speaking to Just Press Start, Intel senior product marketing engineer Fred Birang said that the NUC form factor is primarily targeted at digital signage and kiosks, as well as smart TVs, and is expected to have a price "not in the hundreds and thousands [of dollars]," suggesting that Intel sees this as an affordable way of offering powerful computing. It's expected to begin shipping in the second half of the year, though Intel hasn't yet announced whether it'll be made available direct to consumers.