Intel Kills Off Compute Card

Posted on March 22, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 7 Comments

Two years after it first introduced the credit card-sized PC, Intel confirmed that it has now killed off the Compute Card.

“We continue to believe [that] modular computing is a market where there are many opportunities for innovation,” an Intel statement first provided to Tom’s Hardware explains. “However, as we look at the best way to address this opportunity, we’ve made the decision that we will not develop new Compute Card products moving forward. We will continue to sell and support the current Compute Card products through 2019 to ensure our customers receive the support they need with their current solutions, and we are thankful for their partnership on this change.”

Intel announced the first Compute Card at CES in January 2017, and it was innovative enough that I included it in my Best of CES roundup that year.

“Determined not to cede the ultra-mobile market to ARM, Intel unleashed an unexpected treat at CES 2017, the Intel Compute Card,” I wrote at the time. “This credit card-sized PC can power IoT-based devices or be used as a standalone computer, and it features a USB-C Plus extension connector for USB, PCIe, HDMI, DisplayPort, and other PC capabilities. But the processor, RAM, storage, and wireless connectivity are available right on the card. This is an innovative and versatile form factor that will take the PC to new usage scenarios in 2017.”

Compute Card was designed to compete with other small form-factor (SFF) PCs, including those based on USB sticks. It was offered a variety of configurations, from low-end Celeron/Pentium-based systems to more capable Y-series Core i3 and i5 variants. Each shipped with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC (on the low-end) or 128 GB of SSD storage. Intel also allowed hardware makers to integrate Compute Card into their own solutions using a Compute Card Device Design Kit. I’m guessing that few took up Intel on this offer, though I reported in January 2017 that NexDock was one of them.

Indeed, NexDock was among the first to signal a warning about Compute Card.

“We just found out that the future of Compute Card is uncertain,” a NexDock blog post revealed yesterday. Intel might not come up with a new generation Compute Card and their 7th generation CPU might be the last one to be manufactured … we are putting the NexPad project on hold until there is more visibility about the future of Compute Cards.”

Ah well. It was a cool idea, and I’m surprised it wasn’t more successful.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Intel Kills Off Compute Card”

  1. waethorn

    Yeah, this only broke the news because of the Nexdock post but it was long expected. However, what Intel hasn't said yet is that the Compute Card's expected replacement, the Compute Stick, is also dead. If you look at their product line, Compute Stick is also in their archived product section. NUC's are the only complete systems that Intel is focusing on now.

  2. Angusmatheson

    This is important news. Intel has time after time been unable to compete with ARM for non-computer form factors. First it failed in smartphones. It is losing shares in server. These small form factor devices are the latest. The growth in the Chip industry is not going to be a ton of new PCs and laptops, but lots of smartphones, servers, and lots and lots of these connected devices. If intel is giving up competing there where are they going to compete and grow? Even in laptops is suspect x86 is doomed. I know windows on ARM right now is rough, but in my office everyone who can use an iPad Pro for their work (which isn’t everyone, but a few) abandon their laptop for one. When Windows gets ARM right and Apple gets and OS with fewer limitations I think people will choose ARM laptops.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      Servers have much more in common with PCs than they do with mobile or connected devices. The percentage of ARM-based servers is very tiny. There's no reason to believe that Windows on ARM will ever perform as well or better than a similarly priced Intel PC when running non-UWP programs.

  3. RobertJasiek

    They have been a bit ahead of their time. Either too slow or with fan. Many need ports anyway so why not buy a mini PC with fewer compromises?

  4. skane2600

    Core functionality in a small package has been possible for a very long time, but you still need to add a keyboard, monitor and possibly a mouse to have a useful system. The size of the box is almost irrelevant as a practical matter for basic computing. You're going to need quite a bit of space to use them anyway. IMO that's why these devices haven't really taken off.

  5. locust infested orchard inc

    The modularity of systems that took advantage of the Compute Card had immense benefits with a view to faster and better performance over time with updated Compute Cards, reducing needless electronic waste, and hardware updates being lighter on the wallet.

    Sadly Intel have decommissioned the Compute Card. I just hope Intel ended this project in a bid to get more (wo)manpower concentrating on the development of Intel's 10nm Ice Lake Y-series (5W) chips, and their ultra-low-power hybrid x86 Foveros chip named Lakefield.

  6. glenn8878

    Who would need one when smartphones are even more full featured with included monitor and input device.