As one might expect, Intel is working on a new generation of its NUC small-form-factor systems based on the company’s upcoming Kaby Lake and Apollo Lake microprocessors. The writers over at FanlessTech have published what appears to be an exclusive of a set of Intel slides regarding the next generation of NUCs, and we are in the process of double verifying the details. Until then, here's our analysis of the news.

The new systems are expected to hit the market in late 2016 and early 2017 and bring a number of new technologies, which are absent from today’s SFF PCs. In particular, the new systems will support Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 (10 Gbps), HDMI 2.0 and the new processors.

The upcoming Intel NUC systems are code-named Baby Canyon and Arches Canyon, according to the slides published by FanlessTech. The Baby Canyon PCs will be powered by Intel’s upcoming Kaby Lake-U SoCs, whereas the Arches Canyon will feature the company’s Apollo Lake chips. The new systems will complement and then eventually replace current-gen NUCs running Broadwell, Braswell and Skylake processors. Meanwhile, Intel’s top-of-the-range code-named Skull Canyon NUCfeaturing the high-end Core i7-6700HQ processor (quad-core with Hyper-Threading, 6 MB LLC, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 with 72 EUs and eDRAM, etc.) will not be replaced at least until late 2017.

Baby Canyon with Kaby Lake-U SoCs

Intel’s Baby Canyon NUCs will be the positioned as Intel’s mainstream SFF PCs for users, who would like to have Core-based CPUs powered by the company’s high-performance microarchitecture (Kaby Lake in this case). Thanks to microarchitectural enhancements, the new systems promise to be faster than existing mainstream NUCs, but at this point we have no idea what to expect from Kaby Lake in general, except natural enhancements of iGPU as well as improvements to media playback capabilities.

All of the Baby Canyon PCs will support up to 32 GB of DDR4-2133 memory, HDMI 2.0, an M.2-2280 socket for PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs, a MicroSDXC card-reader as well as a soldered-down Intel Wireless-AC 8265 controller. The Core i7 and i5 Baby Canyon systems will also come equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 controller, which will automatically bring support for USB 3.1 running at up to 10 Gbps, whereas NUCs featuring Core i3 CPUs will continue to rely on USB 3.1 Gen 1 implementation with 5 Gbps transfer-rate. Given all the hubbub surrounding Type-C audio, Intel decided to keep the good-old 3.5 mm audio jack but did not implement support for USB-C Audio into the Baby Canyon, at least, according to the published slides.

Intel Baby Canyon NUC PCs
CPU Core i7-7000U
Two Cores
28 W TDP
Core i5-7000U
Two Cores
15 W TDP
Core i3-7000U
Two Cores
15 W TDP
Graphics Iris Graphics HD Graphics
PCH Intel's next-generation PCH located in CPU package
Memory Two SO-DIMM slots, up to 32 GB of DDR4-2133
2.5" bay One 2.5"/9.5 mm bay, SATA3 None 1 x SATA3 None
M.2 Slot Up to M.2-2280 SSD with SATA3 or PCIe 3.0 x4 interface
Wi-Fi/BT Soldered-down Intel Wireless-AC 8265 (802.11ac 2x2 + BT 4.2) with WiDi support
Ethernet Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet controller
Display Outputs DisplayPort 1.2 via USB-C connector
HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5 mm TRRS audio jack
7.1 channel audio output via HDMI or DP
Thunderbolt One Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) None
USB-C 1 x USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) 1 x USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)
USB 4 USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps), one with charging
Other I/O MicroSDXC card reader with UHS-I support
One infrared receiver
Size (mm) 115 × 111 × 51 115 × 111 × 31 115 × 111 × 51 115 × 111 × 31
PSU External, 65 W
OS Compatible with Windows 7/8.1/10

The Baby Canyon family of NUCs is projected to arrive in early 2017, around the same time we expect Intel to start discussing its Kaby Lake-U processors with HDMI 2.0 support. Keep in mind that Intel has not announced Kaby Lake chips officially, hence, all the plans are subject change.

Arches Canyon NUCs with Apollo Lake SoCs

The Arches Canyon NUCs will be Intel’s new entry-level SFF systems running Apollo Lake SoCs branded as Celeron J-series processors. The chips will feature all new Goldmont x86 microarchitecture, Intel’s ninth-generation graphics architecture (Gen9) as well as improved media playback (due to hardware-accelerated playback of 4K video encoded using HEVC and VP9 codecs). Since the new SoCs are rated for 10 W TDP, it is logical to expect higher clock speeds than previous Atom-based NUCs, even though at this point this is a speculation.

Intel reportedly plans to offer two versions of its Arches Canyon NUCs: the NUC6CAYS with 2 GB of DDR3L-1866 memory, 32 GB eMMC storage and pre-installed Windows 10 Home x64 OS; as well as the NUC6CAYH, which will come as a barebone PC. Both systems will still support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory, one 2.5”/9.5 mm SSD/HDD, a 1x1 wireless module supporting IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, an HDMI 2.0 display output, USB Type-A ports, an SDXC card reader and so on. Intel decided to place a D-Sub connector on the back to enable connectivity with cheap displays.

Intel Arches Canyon NUC PCs
CPU Intel Celeron J-series
Four Cores
10 W TDP
Graphics HD Graphics
PCH Integrated into CPU
Memory 2 GB DDR3L-1866 pre-installed
Two SO-DIMM slots,
up to 8 GB of DDR3L-1866
Two SO-DIMM slots,
up to 8 GB of DDR3L-1866
On-Board Storage 32 GB eMMC None
2.5" bay One 2.5"/9.5 mm bay, SATA3
M.2 Slot None
Wi-Fi/BT Intel Wireless-AC 316x (802.11ac 1x1 + BT 4.2) M.2-2230 card with WiDi support
Ethernet Intel Gigabit Ethernet controller
Display Outputs D-Sub
HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5 mm TRRS audio jack
7.1 channel audio output via HDMI
Thunderbolt None
USB 4 USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps), one with charging
Other I/O SDXC card reader with UHS-I support
Dimensions 115 × 111 × 51 mm
PSU External, 65 W
OS Pre-installed Microsoft Windows 10 Home x64 with Intel Remote Keyboard Compatible with Windows 7/8.1/10

Based on the documents published by FanlessTech, the fully-populated NUC6CAYS will hit the market ahead of the barebone NUC6CAYH sometimes in the fourth quarter of this year.

Please keep in mind that all the information regarding Intel’s new generations of NUCs is completely unofficial and many details may change by the time the systems hit the market. Intel responded to requests for confirmation and responded with 'Intel does not comment on unreleased products', which is the expected response. As mentioned at the top of this news, we are in the process of double verifying the information in the slides, but for anyone who follows Intel's NUC lines, these hardware specifications are not far fetched at all and make sense for the markets they are entering. 

Source: FanlessTech

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  • kaidenshi - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Troll harder, you're not getting enough bites.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, July 18, 2016 - link

    Can only agree. I didn't regard Anandtech as a rumour site, more an announced-fact and details site.
  • nirolf - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Will Apollo Lake support HVEC 10bits decoding? It would be interesting if it does, I'm still hoping for a silent HTPC.
  • patel21 - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Me too, I have postponed my htpc purchase, just for proper hardware decoding cpu in small form factor and price :-)
  • wintermute000 - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Well Kaby Lake will (since Sky Lake already does HW 8-bit HEVC) so you will have at least one option, though it would be nice to save some $$$ if Apollo Lake also supports HW 10-bit HEVC
  • Michael Bay - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    As if you`re going to see hevc being used outside of anime subbing niche.
    H.264 is here to stay for a LONG time.
  • Icehawk - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Sorry Mr Bay but HEVC is everywhere - yes x264 is still the mainstream option but most shows/movies are available in HEVC now. 99% of my watching is via HEVC
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, July 17, 2016 - link

    Wrong. HEVC is getting more popular for most content and vastly more popular for 4K. Saves providers bandwidth, especially at high resolutions. Just as an example, there's a couple of "small" providers that use HEVC - Netflix and Hulu. You may have heard of one of them in passing. I know you probably still think Divx 3.11 480p is good enough for anyone but... gee whiz there's people out there that have cause to disagree.

    Of course, you're probably right there's never any reason to buy hardware with support for up and coming technology. You should buy hardware that has to be replaced in a year when a new standard really takes hold.
  • dakishimesan - Monday, July 18, 2016 - link

    Oh thanks for this info, didn't know this. Does Netflix only use HEVC for 4k?
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    As far as I know, yes. When it was introduced it was exclusively HEVC in the ~15 mbps range (maybe a bit less for some shows). I don't know if they ever started doing 4K in H.264 but I doubt it. Bitrates would skyrocket (>20 mbps) or they'd lose quality making it pointless vs more economical 1080p streams. Even for sub-4K content HEVC is gaining traction. More and more devices support it, and AVC streams are still available in various resolutions as a fallback. So why not.

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