Intel's Compute Stick has so far been a big disappointment, but the chipmaker is ready to put the past behind with a newer, faster and more powerful version of its miniature PC that now runs on Skylake.
As was long expected, Intel unveiled its new line of sixth-generation processors at IFA in Berlin, but not without a few pleasant surprises to boot. One of these is the next-generation Intel Compute Stick that runs on Intel's new Core m3 and Core m5 processors with vPro.
The first Compute Stick didn't make much of an impression, except for a negative one. Intel once touted it as a PC that users can carry in their pockets, but the small, sluggish Intel Atom processor that powered the old device was not enough to power the demands of most pocket PC enthusiasts.
The new Compute Stick, however, is a different story. Running on the 4.5W Core m3 or Core m5 processors, the mini computer will be able to deliver a graphics performance that Intel says is 40 percent better than the Broadwell Core Ms. This allows for high-performance activities, such as 4K video playback, which was never even something users would think about doing with the old Compute Stick.
Intel's new processors are considerably much smaller than its Broadwell family of chipsets, and they are also far more energy-efficient. This has allowed the chipmaker to pack in its Skylake chipsets into its new pocket-sized computer instead of relying on the much less powerful Atom chipsets.
Although the Core m lineup is on the lower end of the spectrum of new processors, they deliver respectable performance and will, in fact, be used to power some of the next-generation laptops and ultrabooks in the offing. The processors' new capabilities will likely help make the Compute Stick perfectly capable of serving as an entertainment hub as well as a modest gaming computer for graphics-modest games.
The Intel Compute Stick is a small computer that users can plug into any TV or monitor. However, the company has yet to reveal all the details about the new device, although speculations, of course, abound. Given its considerable power boost, the new Compute Stick might have a next-generation USB-C connector and, many hope, improved Bluetooth connectivity for linking peripherals such as mice and keyboards.
Intel is also touting wireless display connections as one of the capabilities of its new processors, and while it may be too early to look forward to it, it is possible that the Compute Stick might be able to link wirelessly to numerous monitors simultaneously.
Price is also a huge mystery right now, as the low cost of the old Compute Stick ($170 for a Windows version with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage and $110 for a Linux version with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage) was one of the most attractive things about it. Because the new computer is running new technology, it is reasonable to expect that it will also cost more at launch.