Hello again! We’re the team behind Intel’s Compute Stick, the tiny computer the size of a pack of gum you connect directly to an HDMI TV or display. You may remember us from our last AMA about our Skull Canyon NUC, another small form factor computer.

They may not look it, but Compute Sticks are full-fledged PCs capable of running Windows 10 and Linux. That means you have the flexibility to do whatever you want — play games, stream video, get work done, run a server — and you aren’t limited to a walled garden of apps, as is the case with other entertainment devices with this form factor. So we’d love to answer your questions relating to Compute Sticks, from their development to technical details to how to use them. We’ll also answer questions about breakfast, horse-sized ducks, and whatever you’ve got. Bruce Patterson (/u/BrucePatterson-Intel), marketing manager, will be answering your questions today. And here’s proof.

Ask us anything.

ps. If you’d like to pick up a Compute Stick, keep an eye out for Black Friday deals from online retailers such as NewEgg and Amazon.

pps. We’re giving away 3 Compute Sticks at random, to random questioners!

Thanks all for a great AMA! Appreciate all the great questions and comments. I will do another check on this AMA later today and see if there are a few things that need to be answered. And the three lucky winners of Intel Compute Sticks are being communicated with right now. Thanks and happy computing!

Comments: 281 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

AlvinQ41 karma

Thanks for doing this AmA. I love the idea of the stick. I'm really turned off by the lack of openness.

It seems you've gone out of your way to make it extremely hard for people to install an open OS on the stick.

And then the version you do sell with Linux pre-installed you have crippled spec-wise compared to the windows version.

Why? And: why?


BrucePatterson-Intel43 karma

Hi AlvinQ - while it may not seem this way, we are not trying to make it hard to install different OSes on to the stick. In our first generation, we did offer the version with Linux (Ubuntu specifically) that you refer to. Our thinking on the decreased specs was to hit the lowest possible price point. However, we got the very feedback that you are providing us and decided that in the future we wouldn't choose the OS for you but rather sell sticks either with Windows or simply with no OS installed at all. And we would keep specs of the no-OS sku that same as the Windows sku. Currently there are no-OS versions of the stick of Atom, Core m3 and Core m5 processors. Hopefully one of these will meet your needs.

p4p3r28 karma

Is there a NUC that supports Linux hibernate yet? Or does that still brick the device?

BrucePatterson-Intel25 karma

I'm looking into getting an answer for you. Hold on.

p4p3r11 karma

Thanks, I'm on my 5th NUC, the other 4 have been RMA'd and a refund issued. I've talked to other Linux users of the NUC and they seem to agree they're a bit finicky.

I want to love them, the form factor is fantastic, as is the performance when all is going well.

Thanks for your time.

BrucePatterson-Intel19 karma

Still working on an answer. This week is tough to find the right technical folks (everyone seems to be on vacation besides me - not bitter). I may not be able to respond right away, but I will get back to you. Thanks for your patience.

p4p3r12 karma

I've been dealing with this for a year or so, a bit more time isn't going to hurt me ;)

BrucePatterson-Intel41 karma

Did some research and talked with a couple of guys in the lab who remember this issue from when it first came up. They believe that the issue has been addressed with the BIOS update V.358 which came out on November 5 (there is now a 360 available as of yesterday). Here's the link to the release notes for this 360 release and you can see the relevant fix under teh 358 section. If you get updated to this BIOS and are still seeing the problem please respond back so I can inform the team. And of course you can always reach out to Intel Customer Support or the Intel Community if you desire (I'm guessing you are already well versed with both of these!)

dgeek22 karma

Very exciting device... 2 questions: 1.I just built a desktop PC with my son, mainly to get him excited about how these "magic gaming boxes" work ;-) ... Is this the end of Desktop PCs?

2.Couldn't you have come up with a cooler name? "Compute stick" doesn't really capture the excitement or potential of these little beauties! ;-)

Thanks for the AMA... And the technological inspiration!



BrucePatterson-Intel22 karma

So glad you are getting your son exciting about computers - Intel is always looking for future employees!

To your questions - no, the compute stick doesn't spell the end of desktop computing, although it might transition some of the lower end PCs into devices like this. But the reality is that if you need high performance compute and/or graphics, a more traditional PC is still the way that you would want to go.

  1. LOL - I have gotten a lot of flak for the name since this came out. Yeah, it's too exciting, but it does at least tell you a bit about what it is (hopefully).

BTW - loved you in Stargate: Atlantis!

nicman2416 karma

You really botched linux support for a long time (while having a version that was pre-installed with ubuntu). Many people had to stay on 3.16 when 4.3 was a thing. Why did you not mainline proper audio, s3 (and lower) states and sdio?

BrucePatterson-Intel23 karma

nicman24 - I understand your frustration as we do hear this from our Linux supporters on a somewhat regular basis. The simple (although I realize completely unsatisfactory answer to you) is that Intel has to make priority decisions on what OSes to support for each of our processors. And there are simply some combinations of processors, OS and features that do not end up getting supported at the end of that analysis. I am no expert on this but this is my understanding of why we are in this situation.

ExCal12310 karma

I've played with the compute stick and I'm wondering about heat. How are you resolving the heat challenges while trying to improve performance on something this small?

BrucePatterson-Intel11 karma

That is the ultimate question. Obviously you can solve the heat problem by simply degrading performance of the processor, but that is a rather unsatisfactory approach. So the first step is to choose the right processor. We are utilizing ones that we specifically engineered for ultra thin laptops and tablets, so they are more efficient (performance per watt of power) than a typical processor. Then it comes down to system design. the placement of every component in the system matters to optimize where the heat is being generated and to maximize cooling opportunities. And finally we work with some of the best suppliers in the world for thermal cooling devices (fans, heat sinks, etc) to ensure that our devices are the best balance of size, performance and thermals.

EllietheWalrus10 karma

I bought the Skylake i5 NUC. It's lovely and snappy on Xubuntu 16.04. I can't say "well done" enough.

Do you have plans to support any of the BSD's? As far as I know True-OS and maybe DragonflyBSD are the only ones that support Skylake graphics.

And on that topic, do you have any NUCs planned for Coffee Lake and Cannon Lake?

I'm rather curious if and how you guys use Linux too.

BrucePatterson-Intel7 karma

Glad that you are liking your Skylake NUC! The graphics support decisions are made at the processor level and not within our organization. I believe that you are right today about the BSDs that are supporting Skylake graphics and I am not aware of any additional ones being worked on.

As for future NUCs, while I am not able to publicly talk about unannounced products, we have no intention to stop producing NUCs for future generations of processors, so stay tuned!

skomes999 karma


  1. How much punishment do you guys design compute sticks to take? Is it something that can run 24x7?

  2. And are compute sticks solely meant for personal users? Or might these be useful in a corporate environment, for example as a portable thin client? (excluding being used as a quick way to display a PowerPoint presentation)


BrucePatterson-Intel8 karma

Compute Sticks are designed, tested and validated to function to very high standards. They are designed to run 24x7 and there are many applications in the real world where companies are using them to run digital signage and the like where the unit is never powered down.

For #2, we have different skus of the compute stick targeted at different markets. So we have ones that we largely sell towards consumers and others for corporate environments (largely in digital signage as I mentioned earlier, in conference rooms and in a few places with thin client)

MrDowntempo3 karma

What's the difference between the SKUs? Do the industrial ones have a larger size? Bigger Heatsinks?

BrucePatterson-Intel8 karma

No - the primary differences are in the processor choice (the commercial one supports Intel vPro technology for remote manageability and increased security). The products are designed to the same overall spec in terms of temperature ranges, humidity, etc.

BrucePatterson-Intel7 karma

skomes99 - Congratulations! You were randomly selected out of all the questioners to win one of three Intel Compute Sticks. You will be direct messaged shortly to arrange details. Congrats!

pling_boy8 karma

Are you guys getting enough sleep?

BrucePatterson-Intel11 karma

Always! The brain doesn't work well without the right amount of sleep!

Sirc12411 karma

I feel like you missed a marketing opportunity here. "...but our Intel Compute sticks don't need sleep and can run 24/7!"

BrucePatterson-Intel14 karma

That is a great point. Don't tell my boss, that I miss that opportunity!

jpenczek6 karma

With newer technology like usb 3.0 do you think you could covert this pocket computer into a performance booster (by that I mean a a flash drive that could help processors compute data)?

BrucePatterson-Intel11 karma

This is a clever idea! We have actually looked at this in general and right now there doesn't seem to be a realistic path to make it work. The primary challenge comes down to getting two processors (the one in the compute stick and the one in the other computer) to find a way to split the workload efficiently. It shouldn't be impossible, but it would be very hard and not something that we are working on today.

CEsmonde5 karma

How do the specs of the 'Compute Stick' compare to modern day computers? How would the Compute Stick handle graphically intense games?

BrucePatterson-Intel10 karma

First off, the Compute Stick is a modern day computer! We offer a range of performance options starting with entry level compute sticks based on the Atom processor all the way up to one with a Core m5 processor in it - the same processor that is used in many ultra thin 2 in 1 in the market today. With that said, there are some limitations going so small. The amount of local storage is less than a typical desktop computer today and you don't have the ability to upgrade the device since it is not user accessible. And for graphically intensive games, the Compute Stick is not the right choice (if you want that in a small form factor, check out the Intel NUC line of mini PCs.

joegee665 karma

My small startup needs a compute stick type device capable of running on the power of a standard television USB port. We also need hardware h.265 decode and 2160p video out. We need it to be priced competitively with ARM devices. Nail this and we'll be buying compute sticks by the thousands? Thank you for bringing the PC to this form factor. :)

BrucePatterson-Intel6 karma

The biggest challenge with what you have articulated as requirements is being able to run off of a standard TV USB port. While an entry level compute stick can, in low power mode, run off of a standard USB port, the device will simply shut off once it's power demand exceeds what the USB port can deliver. As of today a standard USB port can provide the current needed to run a full PC.

ElectroSpore5 karma

Has the team ever considered making an Ethernet model with POE?

Many displays lack powered HDMI or USB outputs to power the stick making for more power bricks to collect. I think a compute stick on the end of a POE cable would be great for a number of applications.

BrucePatterson-Intel6 karma

We have looked into this! With the Compute Stick our primary objective was to make the device as small as possible so we decided to leave Ethernet off initially. However, we do see the desire for it in exactly this situation that you raise. As for POE, that gets quite a bit harder in part due to the size that POE adds, but even more challenging for the extra heat that is generated by providing power to the run a screen. Right now it is not realistic to do that in a device as small as a compute stick. There are some mini PCs in the market that have this capability, but nothing this small.

Love the idea though - any other great ideas for compute stick usages?

Daxiongmao874 karma

Would you all ever plan on releasing a compute stick development kit for diy projects? The compute stick size-to-power ratio is much greater than some of the small single-boards out there

BrucePatterson-Intel4 karma

That is a very interesting idea! We have not thought about that for compute stick, but I think it could be a real option at some point.

Intel does offer the Galileo board which might provide some similar capabilities.

aif1234 karma

Have a bit of a taboo question here, have you ever used/ known that you can use macOS on your intel NUCs?

BrucePatterson-Intel5 karma

I have never used macOS on a NUC. There are some stories on line about folks doing it but I don't have any experience with it.

DAN9911993 karma

This is exciting, in the planing stage what was the target demographic?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

The targeted markets were really three fold - mature market consumers (to be able to add smarts to their TVs for streaming, light gaming, web surfing, etc.), emerging market consumers (first PC), and commercial applications (digital signage, kiosks, thin client)

jck16343 karma

Ive had an Intel NUC since 2013. Its primarily used as a PLEX MEDIA SERVER to watch my movie collection around the house and remotely in different locations and as such its always on.

Do you have any tips or tricks that could make my NUC more power efficient as an ‘always-on’ machine?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

I'm assuming that you are already optimizing all of the standard windows power settings to get what you are looking for. Beyond that tale a look at Intel Ready Mode. This technology was developed with just this type of experience in mind.

theManikJindal3 karma

So you're telling me that there could be a 3G dongle at the end of my 3G dongle?

Seriously though, I love my NuC - it is a complete bang for my buck! Great work guys!

As this has to be a question:

  • Apart from making your TV smart, what other purpose is the Compute stick intended for?
  • Do you see the compute stick be of any competition to Raspberry Pi? Are you guys even thinking of that direction? Or is it completely different.

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

For the average consumer, the compute stick is great for streaming content to a TV, playing light 2D games (think Minecraft or using it as as Steam console) or for taking with them when they travel and want a basic PC to plug into their hotel TV. For businesses, it is designed to be used for digital signage, kiosks, conference rooms and as a thin client.

As for Raspberry Pi, while there are some basic commonalities, Raspberry Pi is really targeted at makers and the compute stick is a full solution for average consumers, so we don't see them as competing.

OnlyDeanCanLayEggs3 karma

I compare all single-piece, low-powered computers like this to the Raspberry Pi, since the Pi defines that niche.

What about the Intel Compute Stick causes it to cost 3x what the Raspberry Pi 3 does?

Am I wrong in assuming that your latest Intel Atom processors are relatively comparable to a Pi's ARM processor?

I tried and failed to comfortably run a web browser on my Raspberry Pi 3. Can device handle Firefox?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

I can understand that comparison, many people view it that way. There are a few reasons why the Intel Compute Stick costs more than a Raspberry Pi does. The first and foremost is that Raspberry Pi is targeted at makers and others than want to develop on it. The Compute Stick is a full, ready to use computer that is targeted at mainstream consumers. And things like including Windows, a full enclosure, on board storage and the like add to the costs as well. As for running a web browser on the compute stick, that is no problem. The current Intel Compute Stick is also capable of 4k output for streaming video and the like to television sets (one of the main consumer usages)

JustDaniel962 karma

Just wanted to thank you for the NUCs, they are amazing! We use a lot of them where i work for our projects.

My question is, what are the biggest problems in creating computers that are so small and make them work without blowing up/overheating?

BrucePatterson-Intel5 karma

So glad that you like the NUCs! We have been really excited about the how much people have taken to NUCs and mini PCs in general. What sort of projects are you doing with NUCs?

As for your question, you have identified the exact primary challenge of making tiny computers - heat. Anytime computer components are functioning they generate heat and the smaller the package the harder it is to get rid of that heat. Fortunately we have a team of incredible engineers that are thermal experts who have developed some really creative solutions for dissipating heat (without generating a ton of fan noise) in both our compute sticks and our NUCs.

49198485852 karma

Do you get paid bonuses if the product you developed is successful? Does Intel plan to expand from chips to selling computers? What's the coolest thing you can tell us that isn't confidential?

BrucePatterson-Intel3 karma

Good morning! Intel is generous in their support of their employees and that does include bonuses. However, the bonuses are mostly for the overall success of the company, not for any one individual program or product. We want to make sure that everyone at Intel is working towards the common good of the company and not just on their own products.

To your second question, Intel is always looking for opportunities to innovate and that can take many forms, including cool products like the Intel NUC and now the Intel Compute Stick.

henry822 karma

http://i.imgur.com/qJpBAdo.png I've actually got my compute stick arriving today! (3am in Aus). Looking forward to running it as a headless micro server.

Question: do you guys have any fun/interesting things you've been using yours for at home? With more power, it seems like it would have different use cases than say a Rpi.

Side question: is there a demographic/target market you're mainly aiming the product at? (you may not be able to answer this question, thats okay)

BrucePatterson-Intel4 karma

I tend to use mine as a standard streaming device (Netflix, Amazon, etc) with the added benefit of being able to simultaneously have a web page or social media site open. Other co-workers use theirs for light gaming (2D games like Minecraft or as a Steam console) or to carry with them when they travel.

As for demographics - not really a targeted demographic. We do highlight different usages in different parts of the world (mature markets, more about streaming content, emerging markets, more about this being a first PC).

Exciting that you have a compute stick arriving today. Hope you enjoy it!

betoqp1 karma

Hi thanks for the ama. What are the major drawbacks your see compared to desktops? I'm looking to replace my desktop, do you think this would be viable?

Do you think there could eventually be gaming pc sticks?

Would you consider launching pc sticks in 'tiers' a la iPhone S, SE, C?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Thanks for joining the AMA! The major drawbacks compared to a tradition desktop - in general there are two: less performance and no upgrade path since you can't open up a compute stick. So if you don't need to upgrade your device (without upgrading the whole stick) and if you only need a basic computer, the compute stick could be a good option for you.

For gaming, you can do light 2D gaming (think Minecraft or Steam console) today on the entry level stick and some slightly more robust games on our high end sticks. But it is not a replacement for a gaming rig!

The sticks do actually have different tiers - we sell versions based on Atom, Core m3 and Core m5 processors. Check our website for details on all the different versions.

sentry071 karma

When can we expect a flux capacitor to come from Intel research?

I wanted to say that I've been using computers for 25 years and it's absolutely incredible the advances that Intel has made in technology and miniaturization. Kudos to your team and to Intel for always driving innovation.

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Thank you! There are days when I'm pretty amazed by what our engineers continue to do as well.

Generic_Green_Squid1 karma

Hi, Intel team!

I don't own a compute stick but it is awesome! Here are my questions:

  1. Did you ever expect the Compute stick to get this much love?

  2. Have you tried installing an old operating system on it?

  3. What is your favorite old computer and operating system?

  4. Do you use any old computers today?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

  1. When we developed the concept, we of course were expecting success, but you never know with something new. It is great to see the excitement in the industry that this has created.
  2. I haven't personally, but our current compute sticks officially support Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. You can probably get Windows 7 to work, but older would definitely start having issues.
  3. I still remember fondly the first computer that was ever brought into our house, an Apple 2C+. My brother got it as a gift and he and I had a great time with it.
  4. No - now my idea of an old computer is anything that is more than about 18 months old!


Hey guys! A few questions.

  • First, are you thinking about selling any accessories with it? I think it'd be cool to wear one around my neck or attach it to my keychain.

  • Second, which model would you recommend for a CS student who wants to just practice codng on Linux?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Intel does not have any plans to sell accessories with the compute stick. But i will note that the compute stick has a small security notch in the back end that could work for a lanyard if you are so inclined.

I would probably stick (pun intended!) with our entry device - STK1A32SC. This will come without any OS installed, so you can install the Linux distribution that you want. Good luck!

noeatnosleep1 karma

Where are these manufactured?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

They are manufactured by one of our partners in China.

audioen1 karma

I've got an issue with SDIO on STK1A32SC device, running Linux. Kernel writes out stuff like this:

i2c_designware 808622C1:06: punit semaphore timed out, resetting
i2c_designware 808622C1:06: PUNIT SEM: 2
i2c_designware 808622C1:06: couldn't acquire bus ownership
i2c_designware: probe of 808622C1:06 failed with error -110
intel_sst_acpi 808622A8:00: No matching machine driver found

I believe this means that SDIO on the device is entirely ineffective. What is the impact of missing SDIO, and is there any knowledge of a fix?

Edit: Never mind. Googling the issue finally tells me that this is likely only related to the external SD card support. I've not actually tried it. There's also a limited support now on 4.7 kernel.

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Glad you solved this yourself! I'm just a marketing guy!

thomowen201 karma

Amazing tech you have here! Can these handle 4k Youtube video streaming?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Yes! All of our current compute sticks can support 4k video (our first generation product did not)

FixerJ1 karma

I've been very tempted to try picking up one of the compute sticks or NUC boxes soon... Just curious if you thought that Intel may eventually start partnering with TV display manufacturers to integrate the Compute Stick functionality in TVs at the point of manufacture (similar to how some TVs are being sold now with Roku integrated), or if the future roadmap for the compute stick is only for these to be sold individually as they are now?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Intel is always looking for ways to innovate and that is not always about technology. Sometimes it is about how to get that new technology into the market. We think that the idea of integrating more technology into TVs could be very compelling, but there are challenges with how to upgrade that technology without having to throw away your expensive TV. So our starting point has been a device that is not integrated (the compute stick). That may not be the final answer on that but that is where we are today. We, and the industry as a whole, will continue to explore how it's best to integrate these compute with TVs as we move forward.

sweety_b1 karma


My question :

1.what unique hardware components are present inside the stick apart from the normal ones that we have?

2.Can we use any OS for the stick? If no then what is recommended?

Thank you.

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

1 - for the most part, the components in the compute stick serve the same function as those in more typical computers. However, every component is selected specifically to meet certain requirements around size, thermal performance and power usage. So they are different in that we have to choose ones optimized for this form factor. 2 - We sell the compute stick both with Windows 10 already installed and with no OS installed. If you purchase it without an OS, the OS that are supported are Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Linux. Many distributions of Linux should work although there can be a feature or two that won't function correctly depending on the driver support.

Descentguy2841 karma

Do you have any plans to release other devices similar to these? Such as a raspberry pi type device for those who need a bit more horsepower?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

The Compute Stick is currently planned to remain as a finished computer device, not really targeted for developers and makers. Intel does offer the Galileo board which is more along the lines of a higher performing Raspberry Pi.

lilmaniac21 karma

Have you seen or heard of anyone running Kodi on one of your devices? Can you comment on how you think your device compares to the Android powered sticks? Are you competing for similar markets?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Yes, people have and do run Kodi on their compute sticks. It is a great way to get a better UI on your TV. As for Android powered sticks (I imagine you are thinking Amazon Firestick or Google Chromecast), there are some similarities (streaming content from Netflix for instance) but the Android powered devices are single purpose devices capable of doing one thing, streaming content. The compute stick is a full multi-purpose computer that is capable of not just doing a range of things, but also of multitasking and doing them at the same time. For instance you could be streaming the Thursday night NFL game while also tracking your fantasy football league and smack talking with your friends over IM, all on your TV at the same time. This sort of capability is only possible with full computer.

lilmaniac21 karma

Thanks for the reply. If this is the case, do you see the functions of the Xbox One as a bigger competitor then?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

In general, Xbox One could long term be a bigger competitor. Today however, consumers think of Xbox One as a gaming device first and in that sense I don't think most people would be comparing the two even though many of functions are similar.

Agurri1 karma

What was the hardest thing to solve would designing the stick ? Airflow? The case?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

In general, the hardest thing was about thermal - how do you dissipate heat in such a tiny package. So airflow was definitely a big part of that (we went through many, many designs of different holes on the case to optimize airflow) as we the heat sink and thermal material on the processor, the selection and placement of the fan and overall selection of every component to minimize the amount of heat generated inside the device.

TryingT0Wr1t31 karma

What advantages would the stick have over a Raspberry Pi? Would you guys be interested in making some phone app that could act as mouse and keyboard so I could use it for light Ubuntu usage to play simple games, listening to music and watching streaming in non smart TVs? Will ever be a tiny stick with a sata port or some other way to get big storage for it so I could use as a NextCloud portable box?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

I'll start with the phone app one first, because we have already done that! It is called the Intel Remote Keyboard app and it's available for both iOS and Android. It is designed so that you can have full access to your computer without the need for a separate keyboard or mouse.

As for comparing to Raspberry Pi, they really serve different markets. Raspberry Pi is designed for developers and makers who want to add on, program and generally muck around with the technology. The intel compute stick is design as a fully functioning cpmputer targeted at mainstream audiences.

As for your last question, we do not currently envision doing a stick with an external sata port, but it certainly is not impossible. Today you could do it over a USB 3 port.

DragoonAethis1 karma

Have you considered building sort of a "docking station" where thermals wouldn't be a problem, more ports would be available and the CPU could run as fast as it gets (as they probably can, but passive cooling makes it no bueno)?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

So a place to dock the compute stick that would provide more outputs and perhaps some additional cooling for the stick? Interesting idea, although once it gets much bigger than a stick, I would think that people might just prefer to purchase a mini PC (like the Intel NUC) which would provide great performance than could be achieved with an external dock (the internal cooling will always be more successful that the cooling from the dock).

Just to clarify, the Intel compute stick is not passive cooling. It does have a very small fan inside that is used to maintain temperatures and allow for greater performance than passive cooling would.

omgpokemans1 karma

Hi Guys. I bought one of the first gen compute sticks, and really enjoyed it (I use it to play old console games with emulators and an XBox 360 controller), but I had a few issues I'd like to see improved. How have you guys addressed:

1 - The built in WiFi was weaksauce. Very slow xfer speed compared to other devices in my house, and it gets worse if you use a bluetooth device as they apparently share receivers. On top of this, wireless N is not supported, which means no Steam remote play (which is half the reason I wanted a PC in the bedroom).

2 - Setup was a pain in the butt as there was no way (that I could tell) to attach a bluetooth device without first using a physical KB, which can be annoying considering the device is plugged into the back of a TV and only has one USB port (I had to go out and buy a USB hub to set everything up).

3 - Performance left something to be desired. I imagine this has been improved with the switch from the Atom to the Core M; how big of an increase in effective speed can we expect to see with the Core M?

All that being said, I really like the device and will probably buy one of the newer ones, depending on their performance. Keep up the good work!

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Glad that you have been getting good use out of the first gen compute stick. All of your feedback is spot on and have actually been addressed in our second generation of products. 1 - WiFi in the second gen uses Intel fastest WiFi available today and even more importantly we went from a 1 x 1 antenna scheme to a 2 x 2. This means that there are now two antennas (rather than bluetooth and wifi sharing a single antenna) as well as two frequency that it can broadcast. The wifi and bluetooth are both markedly improved from first gen. 2 - yep, this was true. there was no way to do this previously. However, the new sticks allow you to pair a bluetooth device if they don't detect a keyboard or mouse in the usb ports during the initial setup process. 3 - Performance is significantly higher if you go to the Core M processors. Part because of the processor and in part because they have double the RAM (4GB instead of 2GB). If you got an Core m3 stick today, I don't think you would even compare it to the first gen atom stick that you currently have.

zinkpro451 karma

What is the most interesting use case you've seen for one of your compute sticks?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

One that we are most excited about is one that LG just showed off at a trade show in Berlin recently and that was integrating a compute stick into their newest refrigerator that included a large screen on one of the doors. The compute stick powers the screen and the internal camera so people can track what is inside their fridge from the smart phones while their are grocery shopping! Pretty cool.

necrophcodr1 karma

Are there any future ideas to invest in more affordable compute units, be it stick or NUC?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

We are always looking for where the next opportunity should be for future investments. That can include looking for higher performing (and more expensive) NUCs and compute sticks as well as more entry level units. We are just about to launch our latest entry level NUCs (codenamed Arches Canyon) so keep an eye out for these starting in December.

Bodycount91 karma

What about theft?

Where I work we have touch screen TV's that have Lenovo mini's attached to them in the back to display a computer screen with a slideshow or powerpoint presentation. We can lock them down pretty well so no one can reach in back of the TV and swipe it.

How would that work with your product? Could someone just pull the stick out of the HDMI port and walk away with it?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

In general, I'm anti-theft!

The compute stick is designed with a security notch in the back end of it, designed to allow someone to secure the device when that is needed. We have many applications where compute sticks are being used where theft could be a problem, such as college campuses, but this has not been an issue with the product.

Bodycount91 karma

Been trying to get my boss to look into these. The lenovo mini's are like $1000 each and all we use them for are display units on 60"-70" touchscreen TV's.

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

The compute stick could be a good solution for you. Good luck with your boss!

turbo_runner1 karma

Hello!. Thank you for all your efforts guys!.

Now, my question is, is there any limit of how small a NUC or a Stick can be?. Do you plan to make them any smaller in the future?.


BrucePatterson-Intel3 karma

We are always looking to push the boundaries of what's possible and what seems impossible one day, becomes reality the next. So while we do not currently have plans to develop a product smaller than a compute stick, I certainly would expect that there will be products sometime that are, and probably not too far into the future.

juggilinjnuggala1 karma

What has been the biggest challenge in creating this product?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

The primary challenge with developing a product this small is optimizing all of the tradeoffs that need to be made. Which features are absolutely required, which can you live without? How much performance is enough without increasing the amount of cooling that is needed (which would increase size, cost and/or noise)? All of these questions (and many, many more) were addressed in the initial development of the product.

juggilinjnuggala1 karma

has there been any trade offs yet that you're not 100% sure about?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

I know that we made some poor decisions on our first generation product, sacrificing WiFi performance for a simpler and smaller antenna design. We already changed that with our second gen device. The other 'mistake' on the first gen was only putting one USB on the device to save space. We have already addressed that as well after a flood of complaints from our customers. Right now, I feel pretty good about the tradeoffs in the 2nd gen of devices as the customer and industry feedback has been quite positive.

Mister_Kurtz1 karma

I remember reading an article about the then emerging technology called Bluetooth being a solution looking for a problem.

Which are the most common problems you see the stick being used to solve?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Primarily compute stick is designed to bring an entry level PC into spaces where a standard PC is either too large, too much of an eye sore or consumes too much power. For commercial applications, there are lots of digital sign usages where the low power and tiny size is optimal for their application. For consumers, being able to bring basic compute to a TV without having a computer visible is often desirable.

HouseZanotta1 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.
Among all the challenges, what was the most hard to beat during this amazing project?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

The hardest was definitely the thermal challenges. How to get a computer with acceptable performance (and therefore producing a fair amount of heat) in such a tiny package without getting the outside of the device too hot.


I'm looking forward to the world we're entering regarding external GPUs. With TB3 allowing for 40 gigabit throughput, you can actually run an external GPU on a NUC or laptop with little-to-no bottleneck.

With that being said, the few external GPU enclosures using TB3 that have been announced so far are extremely expensive. Is it possible we might see Intel produce their own?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

External GPUs do create some exciting opportunities. And i agree that today they are quite expensive. I don't expect that you will see Intel do their own, but we are working with the industry to encourage more companies to look at doing them which we think will help create some that are more entry level.

BTW - ever see the external GPU that someone created themselves? Pretty cool!

CrimsonLo1 karma

This is an actually really cool concept.

What did you enjoy the most throughout the process?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Thanks - completely agree that this is cool and it was a lot of fun to part of the team that helped to bring this to reality. The most enjoyable part of the development was working greenfield - where we would sit down as a team and just think about what we could do and how people would use a device like this. It was great to see the really creative ideas that ultimately led to the compute stick.

dkeighobadi1 karma

How small realistically do you think mini-PC's and/or "stick" PC's can get?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

We are always looking opportunities to make things smaller, faster, cheaper, etc. If you are looking for a traditional PC (ie. use Windows) devices like the stick are generally as small as they can be today. I expect that we will continue to see this size shrink, but it is not clear how much benefit there is to keeping going much smaller. However, there are already tons of computers that are much smaller - smart watches and the like are all computers, but they don't have the full PC experience that I think you are referring to.

dkeighobadi1 karma

Thank you, yes I was referring to "full PC's" as it were. I personally think that once Stick PC's get powerful enough many people won't see a need for a traditional desktop, I guess it may just become a question (as always) of performance.

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Yes, that and if there is any additional cost that is needed to support such a small form factor. Today the components we have to choose are more expensive than standard parts. But if the industry as a whole moves towards these devices, that would of course drive down those costs to parity with the traditional parts today.

winnt71 karma

Thank you for your innovation to make usable, powerful, mobile computing a reality!

What's the one thing you wish would be technologically feasible to implement but as of yet isn't in the computer sticks or NUCs?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

For compute sticks, the number one thing that I would love to be able to do is power the device directly over the HDMI port, rather than needing an external power supply. We are getting closer to making this real (some HDMI ports now support superMHL which might make this possible in the future) and that would be huge benefit to the compute stick experience.

_Boz_1 karma

This is the first I've ever heard about this! I'll be checking it out after I read this AMA

My question:

Do you think this technology will be invested in by NASA to alleviate payload restrictions for satellites, exploration devices, etc in the near future?

Are these devices able to meet rigorous standards to provide long-term capabilities to the dedicated exploration of space through telescopes and/or spacecraft?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

The compute sticks that we are selling today are not designed to meet the requirements of space (they are not radiation hardened for instance), but the foundation of what we have developed could be utilized to develop such devices.

PCMustardMan1 karma

Do you guys think that in future everyone will only have a monitor on their desk, and a stick that plugs into that instead of modern rigs and consoles? Are you working towards that future, or are you more interested in desktop PC area? And the last question, how much do you guy get paid and what degrees and what languages you need to speak to get a job?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

That is an interesting idea! We are always looking for new ways to innovate in the compute space and that is an idea that we have talked about as a possible future state. Will be interesting to see if/when we get there.

As for jobs, Intel obviously has a very wide range of employees with vastly different skill sets and experiences, and the pay range is as diverse. Likewise, language requirements vary by the role and location of that job. If you are interested in working at Intel, please check out our Jobs at Intel site

TechnicallyNerd1 karma

I was quite impressed with the iGPU performance on the Skull Cannon NUC, and after looking at indiegogo/Kickstarter projects like the Smach Z and the GPD WIN, it made me wonder: Is there a possibility of Intel joining the party of handheld computers?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Interesting. Intel tends to try to develop new products in spaces where we feel that other companies are not currently servicing. In places where we see others engages, Intel typically tries to see how they can support those companies with the right technologies to make their devices optimal. So I wouldn't expect to see Intel develop a competitive product to these, but hopefully they will continue to be based on Intel.

Profet21 karma

Is your product purchasable on Latinoamerica? and if so, are you shipping a crippled or nerfed version?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

Yes, the standard version of the Intel compute stick is available in Latin America, although there are some countries where tariffs might make it hard for the product to be sold there.

mracidglee1 karma

Are you answering these questions on a Compute Stick computer?

How many have you lost or accidentally put through the clothes washer so far?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

I am answering these from my Intel issued work 2 in 1 laptop (Lenovo Yoga 12 if you are really curious)

I have not lost any compute sticks to date, although most of my usages keeps the compute stick in one place (plugged into my TV) and I have not been using it for travel as some people like to do.

DiamondKoolaid1 karma

How did you come up with the idea for the Compute Stick? Do you have future plans to make a "Compute Stick 2", and what would you improve upon the first one?

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

DiamondKoolaid - congratulations! You were randomly selected out of all the questioners to win one of three Intel Compute Sticks. You will be direct messaged shortly to arrange details. Congrats!

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

I can't take credit for the idea. The idea actually came out of one of Intel's labs where they are constantly working on new and innovative technologies. When the lab came up with the idea and a potential approach to make it into a product, that is when my organization took over and did the work to make it a real product and get it to market.

As for compute stick 2, we are actually already on our second version of the compute stick (huge improvements were made in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, added a second USB port and marked graphics improvement). As for a future generation of compute sticks, I can't speak to specifics, but we would look to continue to improve overall performance and to find one or two additional new technologies to bring into the device. To keep up to date on the latest, make sure to keep visiting our compute stick page.

indeepth0ught1 karma

This question is more about how a cool project comes to be from a giant company like intel.

This is a pretty niche project, obviously not something just anyone wants to buy. I know some companies allow team to pitch a product and if they like the idea they will take a chance on it. Is that how something like this becomes possible?

Also, I'm extremely glad when I see support for Linux.

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Great question. At Intel a lot of our company's focus is on the main things that we do - produce the best processors in the world. But we have technology labs that spend all their time working on creating new possibilities (the idea that led to the compute stick came from one of these labs) as well as small product development teams (where I work) that take the best of these ideas and figure out how to make real products out them. And we are simply measured on if we can do our job profitably - if we can we get to keep doing it!

JerryBoBerry381 karma


BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

That is a little tough to answer, as it depends on what temperature you are asking about. I'm guessing that you are referring to what we call skin temperature. That is the temperature of the device where you can come in contact with it. When in idle the fan is very unlikely to come on and the skin temperature will be barely (if at all) about the ambient room temperature. At full usage, the skin temperature could increase by as much as 20 degrees C above ambient, although we won't allow it to get much about 60 degrees C even if it was in a very hot environment.

i80881 karma

I like the concept of those compute sticks, but what's always preventing me from buying one is their tiny amount of RAM. Why aren't there versions with more RAM available?

BrucePatterson-Intel1 karma

Today our Core based compute sticks have 4GB of RAM in them (earlier versions had less). The reason for the size of the ram is that most of our customers have told us that 4GB is enough for what they want to do and they aren't willing to pay for additional RAM. Obviously that is not true for everyone, such as yourself, but that is reasoning behind our decision.

wmassingham1 karma

Do you think these, or NUCs, are suitable for home micro-servers? I've been thinking about getting some hardware to play around with at home.

BrucePatterson-Intel2 karma

For a microserver, a NUC is a great option that many people are using today. A compute stick is likely not as good of a fit since most people want to use their server for storing a lot of content (the compute sticks have limited internal storage). But NUCs can house up to 2TB internally and you can easily add additional external storage to them.