Core M-based Compute Stick coming early next year

— 8:10 PM on September 1, 2015

The Core M processor is coming soon to Intel's tiny, Chromecast-inspired Compute Stick systems. During a recent briefing on its Skylake processors, Intel revealed that it has a version of the Compute Stick in the works based on a powerful but energy-efficient Core M processor.

In fact, the chip giant showed a working demo of the Core M-based Compute Stick, and it said the final product is slated for release in the first quarter of next year.

The system will be based on the Skylake-derived version of the Core M processor, most likely with a 4.5W power envelope—although with Skylake's configurable power, it's possible the Compute Stick could aim for a lower-power operating point.

The Core M version of the Compute Stick should have some big advantages over the original model based on the Bay Trail Atom processor. I'd expect it to have faster wireless network connectivity, making it a better client for Steam's in-home game streaming. Also, Skylake has dedicated video hardware for HEVC/H.265 video decode and playback at 4K resolutions. That combination could make the Skylake Core M a potent little insta-HTPC for the living room.

With the Core M's performance, the Compute Stick could also credibly replace an office PC for a pretty substantial proportion of the corporate world's desk jockeys. The possibilities for digital signage and other applications are nearly endless.

There is one factor that's likely to limit broad adoption of the Core M Compute Stick, though: price.

Other systems based on Core M processors tend to start north of $500, and I doubt the Compute Stick will be any exception. Folks looking for a cheap, compact system will probably want to use the Bay Trail-based version, instead.

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