After some 20 years of selling branded desktop motherboards, Intel will be exiting desktop motherboard production wing of its business. . The chip giant will begin the retreat from desktop motherboards as soon as its next-generation Haswell CPU ships, and plans to dissolve its Desktop Motherboard Business unit over the next three years. This announcement isn’t too surprising, though it was a bit unexpected.
Intel’s move responds to two directional market pressure. On one hand, the world simply doesn’t need as many desktop motherboards as it has in the past and its time to move on. Demand is shifting to laptops and tablets. On the other hand, companies like Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Asrock are meeting existing demand with a wide variety of motherboard products with various innovative features. Even worse, the feature offered by Intel motherboards often haven’t kept pace with the offerings from these companies and there comes the question, Why even one buy an Intel board in the first place?
The socketed CPU design will continue to be available past Broadwell in 2014, though the cadence of release is said to be slower than what we are currently used to. Third-party motherboards should continue to be the high-quality specimens that most of us have come to love.
Intel says it will shift resources from desktop motherboards to boards for emerging form factors, such as the company’s recently released NUC (Next Unit of Computing), a tiny, 4-by-4-inch, self-contained PC. Intel will also focus on improving Ultrabook and all-in-one systems designs. Manufacturers will be able to license entire designs, or just parts of Intel designs to integrate into their own products. This type of integration can already be be found in Gigabyte’s recently launched Thin ITX motherboard for white-box and DIY all-in-one PCs.
In addition to pursuing emerging form factors, Intel will also ramp up efforts to expand its Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) work, assisting OEM partners in developing new board designs for desktop PCs.