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Intel exits the desktop motherboard business to focus on new form factors

Intel will stop selling Intel branded desktop motherboards after Haswell. So what are the implications for traditional desktop PCs?

By Loyd Case, PC World
January 23, 2013 02:20 PM ET

PC World - After some 20 years of selling branded desktop motherboards, Intel will begin exiting this portion of its business, Intel spokesman Dan Snyder has told PCWorld. The Santa Clara 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.

Intel's move responds to market pressures from two directions. On one side, the world simply doesn't need as many desktop motherboards as it has in the past. Demand is shifting to laptops and tablets, so Intel is responding to changing times. On the other side, companies like Asus, Gigabyte and Asrock are meeting existing demand with a wide variety of motherboard products with innovative features.

[ MORE: AMD's gain will be Intel's gain ]

Even worse, the feature sets offered by Intel motherboards often haven't kept pace with the offerings from Asian companies, begging the question, Why even buy an Intel board in the first place?

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.A 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.

Ongoing support for legacy mobos

Snyder stressed that Intel will continue to support existing motherboard products through their warranty periods. He also noted that desktop motherboards with new core logic supporting Haswell will be offered by Intel, and and will be sold throughout Haswell's life. This means new Intel motherboards will remain on the market for roughly 18 months after the new CPU ships, with warranty support continuing beyond that period.

Snyder also said Intel remains strongly committed to desktop CPUs and chipsets, citingA K series CPUs, which allow end-user overclocking, and upcoming third-generation Extreme CPUs as key examples. The company will also continue to support aA broad array of sockets, including LGA 2011 for performance enthusiasts; the LGA 1155/1150 sockets for mainstream processors; and BGA parts for entry-level platforms. (Reminder: LGA 1150 is the new socket design for upcoming Haswell CPUs.)

Intel first began shipping motherboards in 1993 to support the increased pace of its CPU releases. Prior to that year, the company would actually ship new CPUs without any motherboard support, so entering the physical motherboard business was practically a necessity to goose processor sales.A Intel was already shipping motherboard chipsets toA manufacturingA partners, so moving into motherboards proper was a natural fit.

Originally published on Click here to read the original story.

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