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Intel aims “5×5” at gap between NUC and Mini-ITX

Aug 24, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,371 views

Intel showed off a 147 x 140mm “5×5” SBC form-factor slotted between NUC and Mini-ITX, designed for socketable, LGA-based Intel Celeron and Core processors.

Spurred on by the success of its reference design for 102 x 102mm (4.0 x 4.0-inch) NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini-PCs, many of which run Linux, Intel showed off a “5×5” mainboard form-factor at last week’s Intel Developer Forum. Billed as being the “smallest socketed board standard,” 5×5 measures 147 x 140mm (5.79 x 5.51 inches), or 29 percent less than the 170 x 170 (6.7 x 6.7-inch) Mini-ITX.

Intel 5×5 form-factor
(click image to enlarge; source: Intel)

A Digital Trends report, which appears to have been the first to publish the Intel 5×5 slides from IDF, notes that Intel first showed off a prototype of the then unnamed 5×5 standard as part of a larger NUC form-factor back in January, as reported then by Liliputing. Intel’s slides claim the reference design offers a 0.85 liter volume when using the standard 39mm Z-height heatsink for processors with 35W TDPs or less. A larger Z-height heatsink is needed for 65W TDP CPUs or designs with 2.5-inch SATA drives.

Intel’s comparison of 5×5 to other small form-actor formats
(click images to enlarge; source: Intel IDF 2015 presentation)

Like Mini-ITX, Intel’s 5×5 supports LGA-socketed CPUs, in this case including Intel Celerons and Core i3, i5 and i7 processors with TDPs ranging from 35W to 65W. The form-factor defines standard CPU socket and mounting hole placements.

Unlike Mini-ITX boards, 5×5 boards can draw direct DC power, and like NUC boards, they support dual-channel SODIMM-based RAM. The new format is designed primarily for thin M.2 SSDs common on NUCs, but as noted, 2.5-inch drives are supported in the larger Z-height configuration.

5×5 System Integration
(click image to enlarge; source: Intel)

Unlike Mini-ITX, but like NUC, 5×5 won’t support a full-sized PCIe expansion slot, notes AnandTech. The story also says that In Win has already developed a chassis for 5×5 boards, although it does not yet appear to be listed on In Win’s website.

Further information

No availability information was provided for the Intel 5×5 reference design. More information should eventually appear, we’re guessing, on Intel’s NUC site, as well as from NUC vendors such as ASRock, Gigabyte, or Zotac. A copy of the IDF 2015 presentation that introduced the 5×5 form-factor is available here (pdf download; source: Intel).

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