Intel’s new credit card-sized computer, the Compute Card, could help businesses more rapidly connect their devices and grow their Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems. The card, which is only 5 mm thick, was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Thursday.

A press release announcing the Compute Stick refers to it as a “modular compute platform.” Intel said that it will be working with a set of partners to build out solutions for the ecosystem, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp.

The goal is clear: Enable more connected devices and boost the speed of an IoT deployment. The Compute Card could be used to enable smart kiosks in an office or retail space, to add connectivity to personal appliances, or even to connect security cameras, the release said.

SEE: CES 2017 Special Coverage (CNET) | CES 2017 (TechRepublic) | CES 2017: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet)

Just because the Compute Card is small (95 mm x 55 mm x 5 mm) doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. Inside the device, users will find Intel system on a chip (SoC) as well as memory, storage, and wireless connectivity. The I/O options are also flexible, as to be customized for specific use cases.

According to the release, device manufacturers will build a slot for the Compute Card into their devices, and then select the features that fit their needs. There are a range of processors available for the card, including the 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processors. The Compute Card will connect to devices through a standard USB-C connection.

Intel is no stranger to tiny form factor computers, releasing multiple versions of its Compute Stick over the past few years. However, with broader capabilities, and a more narrowed focus, the Compute Card offers something more.

Being that the card itself is separate from the device it powers, it could make it easier for organizations to maintain and upgrade the smart capabilities of their IoT devices, without upgrading the device itself. For example, instead of buying an entirely new smart appliance when the features become obsolete, one simply replaces the Compute Card with a newer model. It could also make it easier to continue using the device if it were to become compromised, as one could simply remove the card and continue working.

Details and pricing of the Compute Card will be available in Q2 2017, and the device itself is expected to be available in the middle of the year.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Intel’s new Compute Card is a credit card-sized computer that can be used to empower smart and connected devices in an IoT deployment.
  2. The Compute Card is customizable with different processors, including up to 7th generation Kaby Lake processors.
  3. The Compute Card could change the way the enterprise approaches IoT, making for easier upgrades and maintenance of connected devices.