The End of an Era, Intel Exits Motherboard Market

We have received news directly from Intel that the company will stop developing new desktop motherboards once the launch of its next-gen Haswell architecture is completed, sometime later this year. This move does not impact Intel’s desktop chipset plans and Intel will support and warranty all of the current products it sells, through the full stated warranty period included with the specific product. Intel also plans on launching and shipping its Haswell-based products for 2013 under its normal sales terms, and will expect deliveries to continue through the normal life of those products (usually 18 months from launch). But post-Haswell, Intel will cease production of standard desktop motherboards. We’re told, however, that the ramp down will not affect non-motherboard products like the Next Unit of Computing (NUC) line up, which will continue shipping, including NUC barebones motherboards.

Here is exactly what Intel had to say on the matter, “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.”

What this move means to the engineers and staff that are currently part of the motherboard group isn’t completely clear, but Intel went on to say, “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.”

Intel DX79SI "Siler" X79 Express-Based Motherboard

We asked specifically about that this move by Intel means for the enthusiast and DIY segments and were told that Intel exiting the motherboard business does not mean they will be abandoning the desktop. The fact of the matter is Intel-branded motherboards did not comprise a large portion of the desktop motherboard market, in light of partners like ASUS and Gigabyte, and Intel has decided to shift resources.

Intel’s statement continued, “The Desktop segment continues to be a major focus for Intel with hundreds of products across many sub-segments and applications. Intel expects the broad and capable DT motherboard ecosystem (i.e. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and many others) to fully support Intel’s growing roadmap and large worldwide customer base. Intel’s Desktop Motherboard Business will not develop any new Intel branded desktop motherboards after completion of Haswell-based 4th gen Core launch products in 2013 and will continue to support all products sold through the warranty period included with the specific product.

Intel remains very committed to the desktop business. We are making significant investments in the enthusiast platform with our K SKU portfolio and new 3rd Gen Intel Core Extreme Processors. In fact, Intel’s roadmap includes 227 desktop SKUs at 34 different price points, offering desktop solution for a wide range of customers… Intel will continue to support a broad portfolio of CPUs, on 3 different sockets, including LGA 2011, LGA 1155/1150, and BGA parts for entry level platforms. We maintain a broad portfolio of desktop products, covering 5 different power envelopes. Future product roadmaps will be evaluated based on platform performance and power needs.”

The move is an obvious reflection of current PC market conditions and the significant trend towards smaller and mobile form factors. In addition, Intel plans to significantly invest in the growing All-in-One ecosystem, which has shown roughly 30% growth over the last few years.

A couple of updates to this story have come in since it was originally posted. First, a note about Intel's server motherboard business, "On Jan 23rd, 2013 Intel announced that it will be exiting the desktop motherboard business. It is important to note that Intel will be maintaining its server motherboard and server systems (integrated board, chassis, and accessories) business. Intel’s Enterprise Platforms and Services Division (EPSD) produces server building blocks for resellers, integrators, and OEMs world-wide."

ASUS was also keen to reiterate its commitment to the desktop motherboard business, "Enthusiasts and PC builders trust ASUS as their go-to brand when it comes to building desktops. As the global leader in motherboard design across multiple product ranges, ASUS remains strongly committed to developing a wide range of new and innovative motherboards now and well into the future. For the consumer segment we have invested significant resources to grow and sustain the Build Your Own ecosystem, including the PCDIY initiative designed to educate and inspire new builders, our ongoing support for the PC gaming community, and our grassroots program for university students across North America providing support for learning through a number of vehicles. For the commercial segment we have been on the forefront with the highly acclaimed Corporate Stable Model (CSM) program in North America. ASUS motherboards have been recognized by eChannelNews with their Resellers Choice Award for Best Motherboard several years in the row. ASUS CSM motherboards covers a full range of chipsets and form factors, and come complete with a guaranteed long shelf life, advance cross shipping, and Intel vPro Technology. With the Haswell-based 4th generation Core platform we plan to deepen our commitment to bring excitement and new opportunities to the desktop platform.

ASUS will continue to expand our close partnership with Intel to fully support their growing CPU and chipset roadmap with a wide selection of motherboards that provide the highest quality and ownership value in the market. We have the utmost confidence in Intel’s continued commitment to desktop CPUs and chipsets, and eagerly look forward to leading the next generation of Build Your Own enthusiasts and system builders."