Intel has quietly published detailed specifications of miniature NUC systems based on the Apollo Lake platform on its web site. As revealed earlier this year, Intel offers two systems that can be used for both everyday computing as well as for media playback in the living room. The publication of details indicates that Intel either has started to ship the systems to customers or intends to begin their shipments in a short while.

Intel’s family of NUCs based on the Apollo Lake platform, codenamed Arches Canyon, consists of two systems: the NUC6CAYS and the NUC6CAYH. Both systems use the Intel Celeron J3455 processor (four Goldmont cores clocked at 1.5/2.3 GHz, 2 MB cache, dual-channel DRAM controller, HD Graphics 500, 10W TDP) that feature Intel’s ninth-generation graphics architecture (Gen9) as well as improved media playback engine with hardware-accelerated playback of 4K video encoded using HEVC and VP9 codecs.

The Intel NUC6CAYS is a fully populated PC that works out of the box and comes with 2 GB of DDR3L-1866 memory, 32 GB eMMC storage (from SanDisk, SK Hynix or Kingston), a wireless keyboard as well as pre-installed Windows 10 Home x64 OS. By contrast, the Intel NUC6CAYH comes as barebones, requiring DRAM and storage to work. Other than that, both Arches Canyon systems are exactly the same: they 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, a HDMI 2.0 display output, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports (one supports charging), an SDXC card reader, a TRRS mini-jack for audio and so on. One of the noteworthy features is that the entry-level NUCs have a D-Sub connector on the back to allow connectivity with cheap displays and other applications that use this header. Typically a legacy port is done at a request of one of their large customers, and/or the company intends to sell the new NUCs in developing countries.

Intel Arches Canyon NUC PCs
CPU Intel Celeron J3455
4C/4T Goldmont
1.5 - 2.3 GHz
2MB cache
10 W TDP
Graphics HD Graphics 500
12 EUs
250 - 750 MHz
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 Capacity 32 GB None
Type eMMC 5.1/5.0
Model SanDisk SDINADF4-32G-H (5.1)
Kingston EMMC32G-M525-A53 (5.1)
SK Hynix H26M64103EMR (5.0)
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 (implemented using the ITE IT6516BFN DisplayPort to VGA bridge)
HDMI 2.0 (implemented using the MegaChips MCDP2800-BCT DisplayPort 1.2a to HDMI 2.0 LSPCON)
Audio 3.5 mm TRRS audio jack
7.1 channel audio output via HDMI
IR Consumer Infrared (CIR) sensor on the front panel
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
Detailed Specifications PDF

Given the rich multimedia capabilities of Intel’s latest Apollo Lake SoCs, HDMI 2.0 connectivity as well as compatibility with 2.5” storage devices, the Arches Canyon NUCs could serve quite well as 4K-capable HTPCs. Still, keep in mind that the systems only support HDCP 1.4/1.2 and PAVP 2.0 and thus will not playback Ultra HD Blu-rays even if equipped with an appropriate external drive.

At press time, the Intel NUC6CAYS and the Intel NUC6CAYH SFF PCs were not available for sale anywhere. Official MSRPs for the systems are unknown, but one of the online stores known for taking pre-orders on unreleased items lists the NUC6CAYS for $225 and the NUC6CAYH for $158. The prices are relatively high for these kind of PCs, so we expect the actual MSRPs to be lower.

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Source: Intel

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  • CSMR - Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - link

    Actually even good 2013 CPUs struggle with HEVC decoding.
  • shelbystripes - Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - link

    This is a stupid comment. The goal of these tiny machines is efficiency, not performance.

    What are you comparing this to, a Core 2 Quad? The Q6600 was a quad-core, 2.4GHZ, *105W* part. This is a quad-core, 2.3GHz, *10W* part. And that 10W power envelope includes integrated graphics capable of decoding HEVC content.

    You're talking about a >90% power reduction over a decade for the same performance. Actually, better performance in many respects, try watching HEVC content on a Core 2 and see how that goes. That is, if you don't mind the leaf blower sound your computer makes while watching movies, to cool both the ridiculously hot CPU and the inevitable discrete GPU you'll need once you figure out your CPU is just too old to handle HEVC...
  • Michael Bay - Thursday, December 15, 2016 - link

    Proper HEVC adoption is still way in the future. Power consumption argument is good.
  • shelbystripes - Thursday, December 15, 2016 - link

    Netflix is offering 4K streaming on Windows now, using HEVC. It only works with Intel Gen9 graphics for now, meaning Kaby Lake--or these Apollo Lake boxes.
  • sfwineguy - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    Sorry for the dumb question, but does the model that comes with the eMMC use up the 2.5"/9.5mm bay? Or does the eMMC fit somewhere else and leave you a storage bay for expansion?
  • scottjames_12 - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    I'm 99% sure the eMMC is soldered to the mainboard, so you should have the drive bay available for expansion.
  • spikebike - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    What a shame to limit such a nice unit to 8GB ram max.
  • yuhong - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    And you still can only use 4Gbit DDR3 based modules.
  • scottjames_12 - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    I'm curious, what use case do you have that would use more than 8GB of RAM?
  • Samus - Monday, December 12, 2016 - link

    Yeah, 8GB is generally more than acceptable for a machine of this power. Besides, isn't even DDR4, which has a lot more headroom for density on SODIMMs.

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