The highly anticipated "modular" Next Unit of Computing (NUC) has just been announced at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) this week, dubbed the Intel NUC 9 Pro (codename Quartz Canyon) and NUC 9 Extreme (codename Ghost Canyon). Boy am I super excited for this new platform and what it could mean for the VMware Community! 😍
Immediately off the bat, you can see that this is not your typical NUC "cube" form factor. Intel has completely redesigned the system from the inside and out, more on this in a bit. The key difference between the two NUC 9 variants (Pro and Extreme) are the CPU options, which are detailed below. For the remainder of this article, I will be focusing on the Pro version of the NUC 9 and I will call out any differences where applicable.
The use of the word "Pro" is also quite fitting as Intel is positioning this system as a high-end prosumer to Mid-Enterprise device compared to the traditional NUC. The NUC 9 Pro is targeting more demanding workloads such as Digital Content Creation, CAD/Manufacturing and Financial Service applications that either require a high-end graphics card or AI module for computing. When I first heard about this system from Intel, it conceptually reminded me of Apple's recent 2019 Mac Pro, which is also designed with modularity in mind and can cater to a variety of use cases.
Speaking of use cases, although Virtualization is not a target use case for this new platform, VMware customers have been taking advantage of the Intel NUCs for a number of years now and it is still by far the most popular platform for running a vSphere/vSAN/NSX Home Lab. However, one common complaint I often hear about the current generations of NUCs has been its CPU and I think the new NUC 9 Pro/Extreme will be a nice contender for current alternatives like the popular Supermicro E200-8D. Thanks to Intel, I was able to get my hands on a pre-production NUC 9 Pro unit for testing, so lets take a closer look at what this new platform has to offer!