Intel to leave desktop motherboard business by 2016

Intel to leave desktop motherboard business by 2016

Summary: More evidence that the desktop's days are numbered as Intel says it will exit the desktop motherboard business to focus on all-in-ones, NUCs, and tablets.


Intel has confirmed that it is winding down its desktop motherboard operations, as desktop computer sales continue to decline and tablet sales surge.

"We've decided to look at shifting our focus to some of the more innovative spaces," an Intel spokeswoman told ZDNet on Thursday. "In the desktop space, that includes the Next Unit of Computing (NUC), but also a more fundamental shift to focus more on ultrabooks and other products like tablets."

The Santa Clara chip giant intends to stop making desktop motherboards over the next three years.

The fourth-generation Haswell chips, which are still under development, have the potential to be used in devices from smartphones to ultrabooks to desktops, due to their low power consumption.

Intel will continue rolling out desktop motherboards that are currently in production, in addition to the fourth-generation Haswell desktop boards that are in the design and development phase, and due to be released later this year. These products will have a typical life cycle of about 18 months, said the Intel spokeswoman, adding that Intel customers will continue to be supported with a full warranty during that time.

"Out of our Q4 earnings, we did see a slight decline in the PC market, but we think there are healthy growth opportunities in the other markets," the Intel spokeswoman said. "But we do believe the ultrabook and some of our other innovations, especially all-in-ones and the NUC, are going to continue to help reinvigorate the PC space."

The NUC devices are small 4x4-inch computers that are designed to appeal to consumers who need a computer for basic tasks, like playing media or web browsing.

In addition to pursuing new form factors, Intel is also looking to expand the Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) work it does with third-party OEM partners on developing new board designs for desktop PCs.

Topics: Intel, Processors, Tablets

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Bye bye intel boards...

    I think we'll be okay somehow. Asus, evga supermicro... They're the premium boards I look at, even Asrock now offer very reliable boards at amazing prices; if you're on a budget more often than not they're your way to go.

    Intel leaving the motherboard buisness because they see the future elsewhere or because it doesn't make enough money? I'd prefer the worlds biggest chip maker to continue to focus on chips... Motherboards are pretty much covered.
  • well, intel doesnt state the obvious in that

    People today can easily extend the life of a dedsktop by replacing separate pieces on the motherboard, so lesd of them are sold in a period of time. They figured going after all in ones offer better sales prospects. Stilll we will asus and others
    Master Wayne
  • Desktops in Corporate...

    Only very rarely will corporate cliens buy "parts" to build/upgrade or even repair machines. They will buy complete machines with complete service; scrapping machines that no longer work.

    So the question is not what motherboards you can buy standalone [havent bought a significant Intel motherboard in well over a decade], but what will be incuded in the systems from Dell, HP, etc.....
    • Client machines in enterprise unlikely to use intel

      Our hp's have Foxconn boards, the last dell I opened had an Asus made board in it. The client machines never use high end boards. There's no word here on server boards, I would assume they will continue? Besides it mentions desktops, enterprise client systems are non standard; if Lenovo put inan order to intel at the right price, they'd make Lenovo's boards... Lenovo can just get someone cheaper.
    • intel motherboards

      are not aimed at retail but the OEM PC unit makers who prefer intel reference boards with Intel quality control and design rather than 3rd party mobo manufacturers irrespective of performance.
  • Chipsets too?

    Does this mean they'll discontinue producing the chipsets that run upon the motherboards as well? That would be scary.

    I'm a huge PC gaming fan (of the high-end-machine variety), and I absolutely loathe the direction of the industry. No amount of smartphone-capable-gaming is going to replace an experience like a heavily-modded Skyrim. This market shift will set gaming back a decade.
    • No.

      A huge part of the "worlds biggest chip manufacturer" title is the fact that every single I core motherboard has an intel chipset, regardless of board manufacturer. Giving up on chipsets is like saying they have decided to stop making processors.
      • It's already in the cards

        Intel, like most other companies, is moving to SoC's. You won't have discrete chipsets anymore, and likely no discrete video options. Each company, be they Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, etc., will make their own integrated SoC platform with no third-party chipset-level (including GPU) connectivity. AMD will make their high-end platform modular, but it's only a matter of time when their Fusion architecture makes it uneconomical for them to support extraneous connections to additional GPU's. If anything, they will probably only support multi-socket Fusion processors because GPU and CPU cores will be one and the same within a couple of years. The "chipset" parts of the SoC hardware that control dedicated ports on the board will be operated by a master, but functions like PCIe lanes (or Hypertransport, or whatever they will call it in the futures) will be combined.
    • Right on

      I agree
  • No surprise given the cost of Intel motherboards

    vs some others.
    William Farrel
  • Meh.

    That is all.

    My GPU is smarter than my CPU.
    • faster not smarter

      your GPU is faster at certain functions but not smarter than the CPU
  • AMD

    I read today also that AMD are supplying the chips for the new xbox and ps4, both going to be 8 core. Is it the manufacturers pushing consumers to get their wish of all in one machines?
  • intel canmpus Portland

    Any idea how this will affect the intel campus in Portland?
  • Commodity products

    Desktop motherboards are commodity products with thin margins. Intel is no doubt getting out to focus on higher margin products.

    But to conclude as Sam has that this is evidence that "the desktop's days are numbered" is beyond ludicrous. First of all, all-in-ones are just a different form factor desktop computer. Second, no doubt companies like ASUS and Foxconn and others will ramp up as need to meet demand.
  • Intel motherboards were NEVER great

    They were average at best. Many times, they were nothing but cheap stock motherboards (made by Foxconn) with an Intel logo painted on them.
  • Another inflammatory headline

    Obviously Intel is leaving the motherboard business because it has too many cheaper competitors. While desktop sales may be down (maybe the market is saturated?), that just means Intel isn't making enough on each board to continue the R&D. So they leave that market to the cheaper and better brands. I haven't seen a single review that recommended an Intel mobo over Asus or Gigabyte.
    big red one
  • Intel boards unspectacular but predictable and reliable

    I have used Intel-branded motherboards in the systems I have built for many years. They are unspectacular (no overclocking), but predictable and reliable. One of my customers is in a cycle of upgrading desktop systems, and I am now seeing systems I built over 5 years ago with Intel D945 motherboards. The systems still work, but we are moving to low-power Atom boards, which I install after swapping out the D945 boards.

    The reality is that I do not build a lot of custom desktop systems anymore, nor do hobbyists and gamers. So I am representative of the market at large, and Intel's market for desktop motherboards is shrinking rapidly as everyone jumps onto tablets, iPhones and other portable computers. Way more of my revenue now comes from work on laptops, and the demand for desktop systems here is low.

    Sorry to see Intel exit from mobos, but Asus boards are darn good, too... Ben Myers
    • Intel extreme series motherboards can do overclocking

      Ever since the Intel D975XBX, Intel extreme series motherboards definitely can do overclocking. While they may not have as many overclocking options in the BIOS as the ASUS, Gigabyte or ASrock boards, etc... They DO make boards that are very capable of overclocking. The latest board capable of this is the DX79SR. Just sayin
      Nick Cotter
  • Intel Motherboards have been rock solid

    I also have built and sold many Desktop machines over the years, almost exclusively with Intel Motherboards. Failures were extremely rare. Even this week because of a minor oversight on my part, I was forced to do a Windows 7 build with an older Intel board, machine runs perfectly.

    Really going to be interesting to see where the PC market stands in 3 - 5 years. I can't say I'm shocked by Intel's decision. From a selfish, personal standpoint, as long as there is some sort of PC form factor I can build and/or sell I really don't care what the internals are, as long as it's reliable and fast enough.