Intel's tiny Compute Stick PC could pack a bigger punch this winter

intel computestick sizecomparison rpi2

Intel's new Compute Stick is a pocket computer you can plug into any HDMI stick. Here it is next to a typical USB drive and the Rasberry Pi 2.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

Intel has already done an impressive job packing a Windows PC into a pocket-sized HDMI stick, but it sounds like the next Compute Stick is the one to wait for.

Liliputing got its hands on a leaked Intel Compute Stick product roadmap , and it shows a new product based on Intel's Core M processor coming in the fourth quarter. By upgrading from Intel's lightweight Bay Trail Atom chip, the new stick--codenamed “Cedar City”--should support 4K displays and handle more intensive computing tasks.

The Core M stick will also reportedly have twice the storage and RAM (64 GB and 4 GB, respectively) as the original, along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and USB 3.0. It'll also have MHL capabilities, letting it draw power through the HDMI slot on certain televisions, with no wires. The Cedar City Compute Stick will run Windows 10 with Bing, the royalty-free version of Windows that Microsoft offers on some smaller computing devices.

Intel isn't ousting its lightweight Atom-based processors from the lineup, however. The same roadmap also indicates an upgrade to the existing “Falls City” Compute Stick for early 2016, using Intel's “Broxton” architecture to add 4K display support. These sticks will also have USB 3.0 and MHL support. The Windows version will get a boost to 64 GB of storage, but will stick with 2 GB of RAM.

Linux users have a little less to be excited about, because there's no Core M version of the Compute Stick on the roadmap. The next Atom-based version will have 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM, just like its predecessor.

The impact on you at home: Intel's original Compute Stick ($150 for Windows, $110 for Linux) is no slouch, as its performance is basically on par with today's Windows-based tablets. Still, the 32 GB of storage doesn't leave much breathing room, with about half of that space eaten up by the operating system. If you like the idea of toting a tiny PC for serious work, it might be tempting to wait now that we know what's down the road.

This story, "Intel's tiny Compute Stick PC could pack a bigger punch this winter" was originally published by PCWorld.

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