Intel’s Getting Out of the Motherboard Business After Haswell

Posted on January 23, 2013 8:30 AM by Rob Williams

In a bit of surprising news out of Santa Clara this week, Intel has issued word that it’s begun overhauling the focus of its motherboards group, with the company pulling out of the market at the conclusion of its 4th generation Core product cycle. Rather than continue to develop desktop boards, the company is instead looking to focus on emerging markets, with NUC being an obvious sign of things. With desktop boards off its plate, the company can put more resources into things like Ultrabook enhancements, new desktop and mobile form-factors, all-in-one computing and so forth.

If motherboard competition didn’t exist in the market, Intel’s pulling out would be horrible news. However, that’s not the case at all. ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI and others have been delivering excellent products and have continued to innovate – and none of that had to do with Intel’s own designs, which are typically pretty modest in terms of overall feature-set.


That said, there is a bit of a loss here. Intel’s boards were built to be stable, so anyone who invested in one could have the confidence that their PC wasn’t going to ever crash on them (overclocking aside). Plus, as a hardware reviewer, Intel’s boards have been fantastic for gauging what a current-gen board “should” have, and also to give us a performance baseline. Small loss overall though, if it means the company can instead invest its time into other, newer things.

Intel won’t comment on the number of employees affected by this move or the sales numbers that may have ultimately led the company to this decision. Official word is as follows:

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.

The Desktop segment continues to be a major focus for Intel with hundreds of products across many subsegments and applications. Intel expects the broad and capable DT motherboard ecosystem (ie 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.

  • RainMotorsports

    Wasn’t Intel partnered with one of the regular motherboard OEM’s to do their reference designs anyways? Been awhile but I remember watching a video on the matter. The company mentioned that they didn’t have to worry about certain things since they made the reference design in the first place.

    • Rob Williams

      I have doubts of that, as Intel’s motherboard group was rather large. I was asked on more than one occasion by Intel for what I’d like to see changed or added to its boards, so it seems unlikely that another company was the one doing the actual designs.

    • Kougar

      Intel has their own reference design team, and they still will after this. The reference team provides a blueprint model design for the OEMs to use or base a model from. This change only affects the retail consumer motherboard division.

  • Jamie Fletcher

    As suggested in the article, it’s a move for Intel to create fully integrated systems, rather than discrete components. Hell, half the motherboard is on the CPU now anyway, all that’s left is the southbridge, and AMD has already made headway into that too. There really isn’t much left to innovate with on the motherboard when everything ends up on the CPU anyway. SoC (System on Chip), it’s been the future for a long time. Still need storage and other peripherals, and they still need an interface, so motherboards will still be around; how the devices communicate though, that’s where the change is.

    Still, it’s sad to see Intel leave, I still respected their boards from a reliability standpoint, even if they were light on features.

  • Kougar

    Kinda surprising, yet not at the same time. I’m pretty sure Intel wasn’t even in the top 5 list of mainboard makers, so why should they stick around…

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