JournalistI’m Matt Wolfe, a writer for the New Republic who wrote a really long story about Benjaman Kyle — the mysterious man who lost his memory in 2004 and only just discovered his real identity and returned home to his family! AMA!
Nov 22nd 2016 by mattmwolfe • 46 Questions • 112 Points
Hello again! We’re the team behind Intel’s Compute Stick, the tiny computer the size of a pack of gum you connect directly to an HDMI TV or display. You may remember us from our last AMA about our Skull Canyon NUC, another small form factor computer.
They may not look it, but Compute Sticks are full-fledged PCs capable of running Windows 10 and Linux. That means you have the flexibility to do whatever you want — play games, stream video, get work done, run a server — and you aren’t limited to a walled garden of apps, as is the case with other entertainment devices with this form factor. So we’d love to answer your questions relating to Compute Sticks, from their development to technical details to how to use them. We’ll also answer questions about breakfast, horse-sized ducks, and whatever you’ve got. Bruce Patterson (/u/BrucePatterson-Intel), marketing manager, will be answering your questions today. And here’s proof.
Ask us anything.
ps. If you’d like to pick up a Compute Stick, keep an eye out for Black Friday deals from online retailers such as NewEgg and Amazon.
pps. We’re giving away 3 Compute Sticks at random, to random questioners!
Thanks all for a great AMA! Appreciate all the great questions and comments. I will do another check on this AMA later today and see if there are a few things that need to be answered. And the three lucky winners of Intel Compute Sticks are being communicated with right now. Thanks and happy computing!
Have any of the Powells helped him financially? Why do you think the one brother would never speak to Benjaman?
So what are the plans for Supergirl & Green Arrow releases?
They've been included as very exclusive gifts for such a small population of the Lego Dimensions playerbase, that still aren't being made available internationally, even with the limited promotions that are ongoing (No Green Arrow in my beloved Ireland, the land of Green!), and there are plenty other countries that are overlooked.
Will they see fair light of day for us all?
My boyfriend used to work in the ER as a scribe before he started medical school. He swore that on nights there was a full moon, weird things would happen. People would, for some reason, be more aggressive/emotional than usual, leading to strange or violent injuries. There was such a correlation, people (doctors, nurses, staff alike) would mark the date of the full moon on the calendar just so they weren't blindsided by an especially busy night. He always tried to get that day off, but of course, it wasn't always up to him.
My aunt, who's also an ER nurse in a different city, apparently swears the same thing. My mom's best friend, another ER nurse in another city, has also been remembered to say the same thing.
Have you noticed any correlation?
Is there a NUC that supports Linux hibernate yet? Or does that still brick the device?
I don't think they've helped him financially, but only because he hasn't needed them to. He's started working at a new job and he's receiving Social Security -- finally -- so he's actually doing OK moneywise.
As far as Robert, I don't know, but I suspect that his absence is rooted in the same reasons Williams left -- trauma and a painful past.
I was surprised, though, that he had no apparent interest in reconnecting, even under these circumstances. I mean, if I had a brother who wrote me out of the blue after 30 years saying, "Hey, I've had amnesia..."
That is a question I've been asked a few times on Twitter, and I don't really have a definitive answer for you - so for that I will apologise - exclusive content is a part and parcel of videogames, however we do listen/read peoples thoughts and comments... so like I say I can't give you a definitive answer... but I hear you
Socks. You can get ones with funny prints which may seem ridiculous, but will come in handy when you keep putting laundry day off.
Yup! It's actually a really common superstition. I think it's probably all in our heads, but I swear we have the craziest patients, especially psych patients on full moons!
I'm looking into getting an answer for you. Hold on.
Four things: 1. Thank you for your reliable reviews. 2. Any rec'd laptop bags (not backpacks) less expensive than your briefcase recs? 3. Bluetooth headset rec for dictation s/w (spec, Dragon for Mac)? I didn't see it mentioned in recent reviews.. 4. Sugg: How about a new section just for baby-related stuff (we're expecting our first..). Thank you!
How was work this week?
I hear you on the races - we do spend time trying to balance them, both focus testing with kids, but also occasionally older casual gamers. There are the odd one or two that can be bothersome - I remember one in LMSH around the statue of liberty that I had trouble with when I was reviewing it pre-release... but we try to ensure they are all achievable
Answer to 4: Baby-related gear is something we're definitely considering expanding our coverage on and we make sure to log all these requests and suggestions from readers, so I'll make sure to make a note. Also, congratulations!
Thanks for doing this AmA. I love the idea of the stick. I'm really turned off by the lack of openness.
It seems you've gone out of your way to make it extremely hard for people to install an open OS on the stick.
And then the version you do sell with Linux pre-installed you have crippled spec-wise compared to the windows version.
Why? And: why?
Great question. I was kind of flummoxed by that, but then I thought about it for a little bit and it made sense. BK had a really small social network, so there actually wouldn't be that many people in Lafayette who would be in a position to identify him after he'd aged 30+ years. And, while 4 million people watched the show -- which sounds like a lot -- that's only about 1 percent of the population. Personally, I never saw that episode or any article with BK's face prior to 2014, and neither had most of the people in my social network. So, it's possible.
Furman, I can tell you, never watched Dr. Phil.
You really botched linux support for a long time (while having a version that was pre-installed with ubuntu). Many people had to stay on 3.16 when 4.3 was a thing. Why did you not mainline proper audio, s3 (and lower) states and sdio?
Excellent how-the-sausage-gets-made question. The short answer is it's very, very hard and I got very, very lucky. I started reporting this is 2014, when I was freelance. That February, I paid out of pocket to go see BK in Florida. I kept reporting, on and off, for the next year, in my spare time. (At the same time, I was working another, full-time job.)
Finally, in the spring of 2015, I pitched it to an editor at First Look Media (which publishes The Intercept) Eric Bates, who -- to his enormous credit -- agreed to pay for the piece and cover additional expenses, even though the case hadn't been solved and didn't look like it was going to be solved anytime soon. This was a very unusual arrangement, considering the story didn't have a third act. By sheer luck of timing, the very skillful CeCe Moore happened to crack the case a few months later. Eric eventually moved over to TNR and, long story short, the article went with him.
Generally, whether as a staff writer or a freelancer, these articles are enormously difficult to get written and I got extremely lucky to get the support I did.
I don't really have a choice to not do anything "gross". I really hate working with sputum and respiratory secretions but I have to suck it up and do it anyways. I usually just put on a mask/face shield if it really grosses me out. I once had to put a nasogastric tube (feeding tube that goes from the nose to the stomach) in a patient who had a small bowel obstruction. He had basically been puking up fecal matter and blood because of the blockage. The smell was probably the most disgusting thing I've ever smelled. He had also vomited all over himself and the ground. But I still had to do it anyways :(
nicman24 - I understand your frustration as we do hear this from our Linux supporters on a somewhat regular basis. The simple (although I realize completely unsatisfactory answer to you) is that Intel has to make priority decisions on what OSes to support for each of our processors. And there are simply some combinations of processors, OS and features that do not end up getting supported at the end of that analysis. I am no expert on this but this is my understanding of why we are in this situation.
I've played with the compute stick and I'm wondering about heat. How are you resolving the heat challenges while trying to improve performance on something this small?
Personally, the fact that BK had struck such a chord on Reddit was part of the reason I ended up writing about him.
you have too keen an eye... can I claim a typo on "pack"... for "packs" ?
We do! We have a guide dedicated specifically to wireless exercise headphones. You can check it out here: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wireless-exercise-headphones/
Was he ever in a romantic relationship during all this time?
I have enjoyed the PC LEGO games for years, and love the idea of Dimensions, but it's not available for PC, and even if it was, the toys are not of as much interest. Have you considered a game-only version for the PC, with the various packs available as DLC?
Thanks for the question! No. Or at least, not that he told anyone about or anyone was ever aware of.
you aren't the first person to have said that - unfortunately the game isn't available on PC.. I'm not 100% sure of the reasoning as I wasn't there on day 1 of the project when those decisions were taken. I hear your suggestion though.. :)
For all of us medical students going through our ED rotation, what should we take away from the rotation and what things can we do to make your job easier?
Has the team ever considered making an Ethernet model with POE?
Many displays lack powered HDMI or USB outputs to power the stick making for more power bricks to collect. I think a compute stick on the end of a POE cable would be great for a number of applications.
Ask the docs as many questions as you can. Try to be proactive and connect the dots. One of my favorite things about working in the ER is when you have a patient and don't know what's going on so you have to investigate. It's almost like solving a puzzle and the more information you get, the closer you get to a diagnosis.
Probably the best thing you can do to make our lives easier is to just be nice and courteous, not just to the nurses, but all the staff. It really goes a long way when MDs, med students, PAs, NPs, etc don't give off an egotistical "I'm better than you" vibe. I think respect goes a long way. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your rotation!
We have looked into this! With the Compute Stick our primary objective was to make the device as small as possible so we decided to leave Ethernet off initially. However, we do see the desire for it in exactly this situation that you raise. As for POE, that gets quite a bit harder in part due to the size that POE adds, but even more challenging for the extra heat that is generated by providing power to the run a screen. Right now it is not realistic to do that in a device as small as a compute stick. There are some mini PCs in the market that have this capability, but nothing this small.
Love the idea though - any other great ideas for compute stick usages?
I just read that at work. It was a pretty good piece of writing. The only question I have is: why didn't his other brother ever renew contact with him?
Hey Arthur, thanks for doing an AMA with us. I was wondering if you'd be able to tell us whether Lego Dimensions (and other assorted Lego games) are planned to release on the upcoming Nintendo Switch?
Apologies if you don't know or aren't allowed to talk about that, and in that case what is your favourite lego game and why?
No clue. I was never able to speak with Robert, despite much effort.
Interesting question... obviously I'm looking forward to picking up a Switch when they launch... as for us - we've already announced that there is a LEGO City remaster in the works that will be coming to Switch early next year (as well as PS4, XBoxOne and PC) - so of course we'll be releasing titles on switch... but for now that's the only game we have mentioned - I'm sure it won't be the last though:) My favourite LEGO game... too many - they are like children - all favourites for different reasons..
HP - because I love HP - and it was a really exciting game to work on. DC/Marvel - love comics - so always fun to work on the Superhero games... plus getting to meet Adam West/Stan Lee etc - who wouldn't love those..
LEGO Batman 1 - because it was the first LEGO game I worked on from start to finish, and holds a special place in my heart for that... it was also the birth place of some staples of current games, like characters in peril!
ok - I can answer the one question in terms of is Chase a minifig - yes he is - I've seen pics of him online - so that news is out in the wild :) In terms of the other questions - I'm not sure it would be Chase if he wsn't able to do what he could do in the game the pack is based on right... :) As for the other question - you'll have to wait and see - sorry, can't say much more...
In general, I'm anti-theft!
The compute stick is designed with a security notch in the back end of it, designed to allow someone to secure the device when that is needed. We have many applications where compute sticks are being used where theft could be a problem, such as college campuses, but this has not been an issue with the product.
Been trying to get my boss to look into these. The lenovo mini's are like $1000 each and all we use them for are display units on 60"-70" touchscreen TV's.
He actually has an arrangement with the reality TV show people where he is officially forbidden from speaking with journalists. So, even if we were in touch, I'd not be able to acknowledge it.
Hello!. Thank you for all your efforts guys!.
Now, my question is, is there any limit of how small a NUC or a Stick can be?. Do you plan to make them any smaller in the future?.
As above, I'm fairly certain he wasn't. Only he knows, of course, but if he was milking it, the cow wasn't offering up much of value.
if only toy manufacture were that easy ;0 thanks for your offer of help though..
The primary challenge with developing a product this small is optimizing all of the tradeoffs that need to be made. Which features are absolutely required, which can you live without? How much performance is enough without increasing the amount of cooling that is needed (which would increase size, cost and/or noise)? All of these questions (and many, many more) were addressed in the initial development of the product.
Every day we are closer to knowing... I know that Ben will appreciate that answer!
I know that we made some poor decisions on our first generation product, sacrificing WiFi performance for a simpler and smaller antenna design. We already changed that with our second gen device. The other 'mistake' on the first gen was only putting one USB on the device to save space. We have already addressed that as well after a flood of complaints from our customers. Right now, I feel pretty good about the tradeoffs in the 2nd gen of devices as the customer and industry feedback has been quite positive.
I had nothing to do with it - sorry... it wasn't developed by TT Games...
Primarily compute stick is designed to bring an entry level PC into spaces where a standard PC is either too large, too much of an eye sore or consumes too much power. For commercial applications, there are lots of digital sign usages where the low power and tiny size is optimal for their application. For consumers, being able to bring basic compute to a TV without having a computer visible is often desirable.
can i consider gizmo and stripe taking the genetic sunblock as canon as to how they can go into the sun ?😂 i'm like that pls say yes
do you know what the lego worlds count down on twitter is for?
that's all i gots thank you and everyone at Tt take care
I'm looking forward to the world we're entering regarding external GPUs. With TB3 allowing for 40 gigabit throughput, you can actually run an external GPU on a NUC or laptop with little-to-no bottleneck.
With that being said, the few external GPU enclosures using TB3 that have been announced so far are extremely expensive. Is it possible we might see Intel produce their own?
I'm a freelancer and this is the first thing I've ever written for them and when the Glass incident went down I wasn't even working as a journalist, so... bad?
My husband and I get a huge kick out of the Lego Dimensions games, glitches and all. Storing all of the sets is getting to be a bit tough. Have you seen any creative storage solutions made by fans?
Also, which packs have been surprisingly popular with players of the game?
Thank you, yes I was referring to "full PC's" as it were. I personally think that once Stick PC's get powerful enough many people won't see a need for a traditional desktop, I guess it may just become a question (as always) of performance.
In terms of storage solutions - the best one I've seen was a huge round multi level shop storage rack - it had about 5 shelves that could be spun round - like a huge cake stand... very impressive...
packs that have been surprisingly popular... hmmm.... Doctor Who (though not a great surprise)... but Emmett was super popular... they're all popular in their own way... Glad you enjoy the game though. apologies for the glitches.. we fix them as soon as we are aware of them!
Yes, that and if there is any additional cost that is needed to support such a small form factor. Today the components we have to choose are more expensive than standard parts. But if the industry as a whole moves towards these devices, that would of course drive down those costs to parity with the traditional parts today.
Hey, any chance were getting battle worlds for the past adventure worlds that we have? (I.e. Doctor Who etc)
I was quite impressed with the iGPU performance on the Skull Cannon NUC, and after looking at indiegogo/Kickstarter projects like the Smach Z and the GPD WIN, it made me wonder: Is there a possibility of Intel joining the party of handheld computers?
I don't think so no - a lot of work goes into the Battle Arenas, and we made a decision to have those for year 2 packs only.
Interesting. Intel tends to try to develop new products in spaces where we feel that other companies are not currently servicing. In places where we see others engages, Intel typically tries to see how they can support those companies with the right technologies to make their devices optimal. So I wouldn't expect to see Intel develop a competitive product to these, but hopefully they will continue to be based on Intel.
What's your favorite franchise in LEGO Dimensions and which franchise did you enjoy implementing into the game the most?
Will the Powerpuff Girls have custom head molds or not?
What has been your favorite level you've worked on in LEGO Dimensions?
Is your product purchasable on Latinoamerica? and if so, are you shipping a crippled or nerfed version?
Favourite Franchise - Harry Potter / Goonies PP Girls - Yes... just don't tell anyone I told you ;0 Fav level - probably Fantastic Beasts level 2 - inside Newt's case :)
Yes, the standard version of the Intel compute stick is available in Latin America, although there are some countries where tariffs might make it hard for the product to be sold there.
Will we see more packs for previously done franchises in Dimensions?
Would love to see more for Lord or the Rings and Fantastic Beasts!
This question is more about how a cool project comes to be from a giant company like intel.
This is a pretty niche project, obviously not something just anyone wants to buy. I know some companies allow team to pitch a product and if they like the idea they will take a chance on it. Is that how something like this becomes possible?
Also, I'm extremely glad when I see support for Linux.
More for LOTR... Really?!? Or do you just want a Sean Bean minifig :)
Great question. At Intel a lot of our company's focus is on the main things that we do - produce the best processors in the world. But we have technology labs that spend all their time working on creating new possibilities (the idea that led to the compute stick came from one of these labs) as well as small product development teams (where I work) that take the best of these ideas and figure out how to make real products out them. And we are simply measured on if we can do our job profitably - if we can we get to keep doing it!
I love your work. I said yesterday that I've played the all but 5 of the Lego games to completion with a significant other and that these are great because they aren't competitive. How do you feel about the demise of couch coop? Playing in person with friends non competitively is so much more fun and intimate.
Edit: also it would be great to see Lego Artemis Fowl. You should reach out to Eoin Colfer about that :p
I like the concept of those compute sticks, but what's always preventing me from buying one is their tiny amount of RAM. Why aren't there versions with more RAM available?
Demise of couch coop? NEVER!!! We are here - stalwarts of the industry - making sure it remains forever!
On a serious note though - we love hearing peoples stories of who and how they play our games - playing games together rocks! Reminds me of growing up playing games together with friends!
Is it bad that I had to google Artemis Fowl... (sorry!)
Today our Core based compute sticks have 4GB of RAM in them (earlier versions had less). The reason for the size of the ram is that most of our customers have told us that 4GB is enough for what they want to do and they aren't willing to pay for additional RAM. Obviously that is not true for everyone, such as yourself, but that is reasoning behind our decision.
Since there is an upcoming Excalibur Batman fun pack even though a Batman figure already exists, it seems like the door isn't closed to variants of existing characters. Is there any hope for more content in this vein, such as a Batman 66 Team/Level pack, or a Fiona and Cake pack for Adventure Time? Also, amazing game and an amazing studio. Everything you guys do is solid gold.
Hi thanks for the ama. What are the major drawbacks your see compared to desktops? I'm looking to replace my desktop, do you think this would be viable?
Do you think there could eventually be gaming pc sticks?
Would you consider launching pc sticks in 'tiers' a la iPhone S, SE, C?
60's Batman pack... OMG... why haven't we done that... Loved that level in LBM3...DANGITSHARPLES
Thanks for joining the AMA! The major drawbacks compared to a tradition desktop - in general there are two: less performance and no upgrade path since you can't open up a compute stick. So if you don't need to upgrade your device (without upgrading the whole stick) and if you only need a basic computer, the compute stick could be a good option for you.
For gaming, you can do light 2D gaming (think Minecraft or Steam console) today on the entry level stick and some slightly more robust games on our high end sticks. But it is not a replacement for a gaming rig!
The sticks do actually have different tiers - we sell versions based on Atom, Core m3 and Core m5 processors. Check our website for details on all the different versions.
Hi there, Arthur! Here are some questions I would like to ask!
Have you finish developing the Wave 8 (after Wave 7.5) packs? If so, when will you reveal it?
Will Chase McCain have the ability to switch uniforms like what he had from his previous game?
Is The Goonies' level based on the movie or not?
Will LCU have a level pack?
Will Starfire be playable as a character for LEGO Dimensions?
When can we expect a flux capacitor to come from Intel research?
I wanted to say that I've been using computers for 25 years and it's absolutely incredible the advances that Intel has made in technology and miniaturization. Kudos to your team and to Intel for always driving innovation.
hi - answers for you: 1) errr.. no - people still working hard on 7.5 and 8.... very hard!!! Probably news on those post holiday... though I may be wrong.. 2) I'm not sure it would be Chase if you couldn't - right? 3) YES YES YES.... however we let you play the story from Sloth and Chunk's perspective!!! It's awesome!!!! 4) LCU has a whole game :) .... (sorry) 5) you'll have to wait and see... and don't want to spoil the surprise... (cough - yes)...
Thank you! There are days when I'm pretty amazed by what our engineers continue to do as well.
Hey Arthur, thanks for doing an AMA and thanks for being a huge part of my childhood. I'd like to ask a few questions.
What was your favorite LEGO game to develop and which one is your favorite overall.
Were there any plans for a Bionicle Heroes sequel? That game was amazing to me as a child and it still is. Which leads me to another question.
Is there any chance of seeing a Bionicle Heroes re-release on PC and next gen consoles?
Do you prefer LEGO games with voice acting or without it?
Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer these questions! :D
Hi, Intel team!
I don't own a compute stick but it is awesome! Here are my questions:
Did you ever expect the Compute stick to get this much love?
Have you tried installing an old operating system on it?
What is your favorite old computer and operating system?
Do you use any old computers today?
1) Favourite LEGO game... probably Harry Potter... or LMSH... 2) Not that I'm aware of :) thanks though... had fun making that one... it was an interesting project. 3) Doubt it'll ever get a re-release - sorry 4) OOOOoooohhhhh..... I like both... but I actually prefer the voiced ones... mainly because I love sitting in on the recording sessions.. and the voice actors are all awesome fun to be around
- When we developed the concept, we of course were expecting success, but you never know with something new. It is great to see the excitement in the industry that this has created.
- I haven't personally, but our current compute sticks officially support Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. You can probably get Windows 7 to work, but older would definitely start having issues.
- I still remember fondly the first computer that was ever brought into our house, an Apple 2C+. My brother got it as a gift and he and I had a great time with it.
- No - now my idea of an old computer is anything that is more than about 18 months old!
Personally, I think Lego Dimensions has ruined the chances of us getting a lot of good possible stand alone Lego video games (ex: Doctor Who).
What are your thoughts on that?
Where are these manufactured?
really... I thought the exact opposite.. It's an IP that a few people at the studio are crazy about - but not everyone believes it has worldwide appeal... the popularity of that pack may be the thing that makes people realise how popular it is... but I think IP's can work in Dimensions, in standalones, and both - it's all about what people want to play I guess..
They are manufactured by one of our partners in China.
I've been playing the TT LEGO games since the first LEGO Star Wars on PS2. I'm a fan and a customer for life at this point.
With the announcement of LEGO City Undercover coming out on Xbox One and PS4, are there any plans to release more LEGO games with original stories? I know Marvel Super Heroes was written for the game but I would love to see some new original LEGO characters or even the return of LEGO Island or LEGO Racers.
Also, are there any plans for LEGO games to expand beyond the puzzle/platforming genre? With the Force Awakens adding cover based shooting, it seems like you guys are expanding your gameplay styles and I'm really looking forward to what's coming next.
Two more questions then I'm done, I promise. What dream franchise would you like to add to LEGO Dimensions but can't due to the nature of the content? Specifically M rated games or R rated movies.
Last question: What's your favorite band?
Thanks for all the awesome games! Tell the rest of the TT they're doing a fantastic job! :D
I've got an issue with SDIO on STK1A32SC device, running Linux. Kernel writes out stuff like this:
i2c_designware 808622C1:06: punit semaphore timed out, resetting i2c_designware 808622C1:06: PUNIT SEM: 2 i2c_designware 808622C1:06: couldn't acquire bus ownership i2c_designware: probe of 808622C1:06 failed with error -110 intel_sst_acpi 808622A8:00: No matching machine driver found
I believe this means that SDIO on the device is entirely ineffective. What is the impact of missing SDIO, and is there any knowledge of a fix?
Edit: Never mind. Googling the issue finally tells me that this is likely only related to the external SD card support. I've not actually tried it. There's also a limited support now on 4.7 kernel.
Hi there - glad to hear it... In terms of other things... you'll have to stay tuned... anything is possible. We like to try different gameplay styles - and are looking at some exciting things in the future... so yes, hopefully there'll be some great stuff for you to experience.
Dream Franchise... I think they're already there... Harry Potter/Goonies etc... I don't think there is anything missing... Favourite Band... hmmm. old band - Queen / New band - Bastille
And I'll tell everyone how awesome they are... honest :)
Glad you solved this yourself! I'm just a marketing guy!
Amazing tech you have here! Can these handle 4k Youtube video streaming?
Yes! All of our current compute sticks can support 4k video (our first generation product did not)
Do you have any plans to release other devices similar to these? Such as a raspberry pi type device for those who need a bit more horsepower?
The Compute Stick is currently planned to remain as a finished computer device, not really targeted for developers and makers. Intel does offer the Galileo board which is more along the lines of a higher performing Raspberry Pi.
Have you considered building sort of a "docking station" where thermals wouldn't be a problem, more ports would be available and the CPU could run as fast as it gets (as they probably can, but passive cooling makes it no bueno)?
So a place to dock the compute stick that would provide more outputs and perhaps some additional cooling for the stick? Interesting idea, although once it gets much bigger than a stick, I would think that people might just prefer to purchase a mini PC (like the Intel NUC) which would provide great performance than could be achieved with an external dock (the internal cooling will always be more successful that the cooling from the dock).
Just to clarify, the Intel compute stick is not passive cooling. It does have a very small fan inside that is used to maintain temperatures and allow for greater performance than passive cooling would.