Intel to ditch motherboard business

Santa Clara may have sold Intel-branded motherboards for nearly two decades, but that won’t stop the chip giant from slowly phasing out the business as soon as its next-gen Haswell chips hit the market.

The move will allow Intel to shift its focus to Ultrabooks, Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) and perhaps even a new generation of uber-mini x86 PCs dubbed NUC (Next Unit of Computing).

However, Santa Clara insists its commitment to desktop CPUs and chipsets hasn’t wavered, as the company will continue to support a wide variety of sockets, including LGA 2011, LGA 1155/1150 and BGA parts.

As Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech notes, the desktop PC business isn’t exactly booming for either Intel or AMD.

“Late last year word spread of Intel’s plans for making Broadwell (14nm Core microprocessor in 2014) BGA-only. While we’ll continue to see socketed CPUs beyond that, the cadence will be slower than what we’re used to,” he explained.

“The focus going forward will be on highly integrated designs, even for the desktop (think all-in-ones, thin mini-ITX, NUC, etc…). Couple that reality with low board margins and exiting the desktop motherboard business all of the sudden doesn’t sound like a bad idea for Intel.”

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley tech guru Charlie Demerjian says he sees the re-prioritization of Intel’s resources as a positive move for both Intel and the general PC market.

“[This] is going to be a slow, planned transition that will allow Intel to focus more on what it actually needs to do, make markets for it’s products. Given how few prospects they currently have, [we] only wonder why these steps weren’t take long ago. [Clearly] this is a good thing for Intel,” Demerjian wrote in a detailed analysis posted on his SemiAccurate site.

“[Of course], the real interesting question is what this does to the market. Given the size of Intel’s branded board sales this has some impact on the other motherboard makers. Intel also has a vastly disproportionate mindshare in several key markets, and now those are about to be thrown up for grabs.”