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.