Intel to exit motherboard business after Haswell platform

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2013 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell

Word reached us tonight of some interesting and somewhat disappointing news out of Intel.  The company has announced a reorganization that will include the spinning down of the retail motherboard development team and product line after the release of the upcoming Haswell line of processors. 

We disclosed internally today that Intel’s Desktop Motherboard Business will begin slowly ramping down over the course of the next three years. As Intel gradually ramps down its motherboard business we are ramping up critical areas of the desktop space including integration of innovative solutions for the PC ecosystem such as reference design development, NUC and other areas to be discussed later.

The internal talent and experience of twenty years in the boards business (which until recently has been largely focused on desktop tower type designs) is being redistributed to address emerging new form factors -- desktop and mobile – and to expand Intel’s Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) work and enable our partners to develop exciting new computing solutions.

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Intel's DX79SI was a launch board for Sandy Bridge-E

Many of our readers might not see this as an important decision with the likes of ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte to accommodate the needs of builders, but any time a company that has been in a business segment for more than 20 years exits, you need to pay attention.  And while Intel boards have traditional been used only on business and stability-dependent applications, the boards team has in the past few years been producing fantastic, high quality enthusiast class platforms and innovating on the UEFI design, etc.  Many boutique system builders were even using Intel motherboards in $5,000+ systems. 

As recently as CES earlier in the month, we met with the board team at Intel to discuss future plans for additional features as well new compelling changes to UEFI coming up in Haswell offerings.  Instead it appears that members of that product team will be slowly transitioned to the world of new form factors (like the recently announced Next Unit of Computing) and more. 

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Intel's Next Unit of Computing platform

Intel noted confidence in other companies like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte for future motherboards and to "fully support Intel's growing roadmap."  And for those companies this will likely be good news in the short term as builders and OEMs will be transitioning away, looking for new options.  Still, this will no doubt fuel the fire of rumors about Intel's desire to move out of the socketed CPU business as quickly as possible.


January 22, 2013 | 10:09 PM - Posted by John Chambers (not verified)

Not to surprising. I think it has to do with not very many people buying their boards. Their competitors are taking their business in the likes of MSI, Asus gigabyte etc etc.

January 22, 2013 | 10:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They want top dollar for their boards too, only OEMs are anyone buying intel boards.

They don't wanna drop price and compete, they are to used to slapping a price on it and saying "pay up suckers"

January 23, 2013 | 01:18 AM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619


January 22, 2013 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Jangsterish (not verified)

As veterans of motherboard manufacturing, Intel's move to slip out is interesting indeed. This doesn't necessarily spell doom for LGA or traditional desktops by any means, but it is certainly something that will make enthusiasts a little nervous.

January 22, 2013 | 11:42 PM - Posted by orvtrebor

This really isn't shocking, there is no way they were making any real profit.

Although they might have had a nice chunk of OEM business, i think a lot of Emachines ran their boards for a while.

January 22, 2013 | 11:51 PM - Posted by mAxius

now brodwell on chips will have to bought form insert mobo manufacture here and if the chip fails or the board rma it to the manufacture... this is just intel giving the industry the middle finger

January 23, 2013 | 12:38 AM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

They want to focus on mobile. Fair enough and even reasonable and prudent at one level because that is the growing sector. On the other hand I'm not sure the desktop is actually going to go away any times soon especially in businesses and I know the server market isn't. I think they are jumping ship too soon. They may actually be about to turn over some market share to the competition.

January 23, 2013 | 01:22 PM - Posted by Hood

NUC - does that mean "No USB3 Connector"? Because it certainly can't stand for "Next Unit of Computing" running an old port standard like USB 2.0. So maybe they do need to dump the sagging board business and concentrate on making their N.U.C. into something other than a P.O.S.

January 23, 2013 | 02:08 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Out of all the systems I've ever built, I've never once considered an Intel board. They are always the highest price with fewest features, not exactly what I was looking for. I have a feeling that was the case with most enthusiast builders too.

January 23, 2013 | 10:11 PM - Posted by Hood

I tried to seriously consider using their flagship Z77 board for my personal build, mostly because of their reputation for stability and build quality. But as you say, for the money, the features come up short, and early users had stability and driver issues, so that killed the deal. Asus is also high-priced but worth it for the quality and features. Still, it kind of feels like the end of an era. If they release a really good socket 1150 board for Haswell, I might buy one just for the hell of it.

January 25, 2013 | 02:52 AM - Posted by dudz_fryd (not verified)

Even with the nifty skull thing I don't anyone ever seriously considered an Intel board as anything but an OEM product. That said, a bad lot of Intel boards was a rare thing indeed unlike MSI, ASUS and Gigabyte who spent entire quarters dealing with RMA's.

I'm far more concerned that it may spell the beginning of the end of desktop chipsets from Intel as they move to mobile and low power focus for their designs.

If you consider an Intel board as a kind of reference design for everyone else then you see why I come to that conclusion.

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