Intel Raptor Canyon NUC: Talking About the Design, GPUs, Thermals, Recession, and More With Faisal Habib

Intel Raptor Canyon NUC: Talking About the Design, GPUs, Thermals, Recession, and More With Faisal Habib


Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a line-up of small factor computing devices aimed at providing the best possible performance in the smallest footprint. The company displayed the NUC concept in 2012 and launched the first version in 2013 with a Celeron 847. Now, almost 10 years and 12 generations of NUC later, the company has continued pursuing maximum performance and minimum footprint. With time, the company has continued to adapt the design of NUC to keep up with the increasing size of GPUs and cooling requirements for the CPU.

The company launched the 13th generation of Intel NUC, code-named Raptor Canyon NUC Extreme, in November 2022. This new generation comes with the latest 13th-gen Intel Core desktop processors while bringing the latest connectivity standards like DDR5, PCIe Gen 5, and Wi-Fi 6E. The Intel Raptor Canyon NUC is yet to make its way into the Indian market officially. However, the company plans to launch the 13th gen NUC in the country.

In the lead up to the official launch, India got a chance to speak with Faisal Habib, the Enthusiast Marketing Director, about the Intel NUC 13 Extreme. During the conversation, we discussed the increasing power, thermal, and graphics requirements with each generation. We also discussed the associated design challenges, the looming recession with a decline in PC sales, and more. Here is the complete conversation with Faisal about the Intel Raptor Canyon NUC.

Q. To start things up, I wanted to ask about the size of the Intel Raptor Canyon NUC. The NUC lineup has been known for its compact size, but with time, it has grown. How do you foresee the trend in the future, especially with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 series cards and more?

A: The growth of the NUC Extreme product line-up has been a mix of direction related to increasing CPU capabilities and increasing GPU sizes. While we do not comment on unannounced and unreleased products, it is worth the reference that we are very familiar with how the market is trending in power/performance. From NUC 9 Extreme to NUC 13 Extreme and everything in between, each was a pursuit of increasing capabilities and performance.

Our strategic direction continues to be focused on delivering the best performance per litre. We adjusted form factors to accommodate that goal in keeping in mind the increased GPU sizes and CPU capabilities.

We are continuously exploring how we innovate to deliver to that goal in every generation, and we continue to see significant opportunity in driving form factor innovation in this space.

Q: More power means more heat with each new generation. What are you looking at to keep the heat at bay with each new generation?

A: Thermal designs are always evaluated on noise vs performance; with Raptor Canyon, we learned that providing what can be compared to an open-air test bench has done an amazing job of keeping thermals and noise lower than previous designs.

Q: In terms of design, the NUC lineup has been known to pack some impressive engineering every year. Could you share some of the challenges that you faced this time? Any challenges that you foresee?

A: Targeting a power limit on the CPU of more than double the previous generation really took us back to the drawing board on system layout and thermal design. Keeping the system modular while also pushing the power envelope as high as we did was a challenge that we believe we met head-on with a great solution. We also maintained a very easy integration process that can be completed in roughly 5 minutes and involving no more than 8 screws to install memory, storage, and GPU.

Q: Considering the decline in the computing industry with the gradually expanding recession, where do you see Intel NUC in the market?

A: The gaming market has been mostly growing, and there’s also been steady growth in general for smaller form-factors. We plan to continue to innovate and bring new products to market with this trajectory in mind.

Additionally, the NUC is used in a myriad of segments, from Robotics and Edge IoT usages all the way to the gaming systems we have.

Q. Are you looking at something that goes back to the basics of a tiny NUC in the form of NUC Mini or something, given how companies like Minisforum have made a foothold in the market?

A: We have created multiple product lines since the inception of the first NUC products 10 years ago, while creating these additional gaming and high-performance products we haven’t lost touch with our 4×4 pedigree. As a reference, you can today buy a 12th Gen 4×4 NUC Mini PC while also buying a 13th Gen NUC Extreme product “Raptor Canyon”. In-between, we also have the NUC Enthusiast product line, which utilizes discrete mobile graphics, which helps us optimize more on size.

Q. What have been the most innovative or impressive ways that you have seen NUCs used in your time working on the project?

A: Most recently, a customer story with the Melbourne Museum was published about how the exhibition, Tyama, is brought to life by NUC technology. A copy of the story is available here.

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