The motherboard business probably never was a great source of revenue for Intel. They anyway had to make a few reference designs for their motherboard controllers/CPUs. 'Might as well manufacture a few and sell them', was the school of thought till now I guess.
Someone with a better historical memory, feel free to correct me, but if I recall correctly, one of the justifications for Intel getting into and staying in the motherboard business was to speed the adoption of new chips and chip sets. If that's true, it would certainly make sense for them to do something similar with their low-power Atom offerings in the mobile space.
@Duane: You recall correctly. For some time Taiwan Inc. was irritated that it had to complete with Intel in mobos.
I don't know if an Atom board business makes sense given smartphones have no standard board sizes Intel can readily stamp out.
Rick - good point about the non-standard sizes with tablet and phone motherboards. I certainly don't think even Intel is in a position to create a standard there. The available space is so small that just about every applications needs to be custom.
I disagree. Note that their reference design for ultrabooks has certainly set a defacto standard in that market. Also, I see little difference in physical size and shape of tablets and phones. In fact, companies are quibbling about rounded corners vs. square corners.
I see this as largely a non-event. While it was in Intel's interest to create reference designs for use of their chips, how big was the motherboard business for them? I'd guess it's a tiny part of their overall operations.
For systems I've built, I tended to prefer mobos from Asus. For systems I've bought, it hasn't always been clear who made the motherboard itself, even though Intel chips were used, and the bet is that the vendor sourced based on price, and I can't imagine Intel was ever the low cost supplier.
It will be curious to see what they do in mobile space, where their big challenge is getting Atom adopted in the first place. Smartphones are mostly ARM based, and tablets all over the map. Given the variety of form factors, making reference design mobos for the mobile space will be a challenge.
I agree with the non-event comment. This is the significant point of the article:
"The company said the employees focused on PC motherboards would be redistributed to address emerging new form factors, including both desktop and mobile computers. Those engineers will also be refocused to expand Intel’s form factor reference design work and enable the company's partners to develop new computing solutions, Intel said."
It's not like Intel was a key supplier of motherboards anyway.
Full sized ATX and uATX motherboards have long made the desktop computer far larger that is necessary for the vast majority of consumers. Companies like Visio, Apple, and any of the All-In-One makers have been pushing the general market downward in size. Hopefully these new form factors can compete similarly on price because despite all the drawbacks of large atx motherboards, they were flexible and relativity cheap. I also wonder how expand-ability will accommodated on these new form factors or if the discrete graphics market will suffer because of this decision.
I suppose this goes hand in hand with Intel's announcement that after Haswell there would be no more socketed Intel processors. (though that was later denied by Intel, which seems odd now)
not surprised! but STOP the production slowly is the little shock news for me.... Immediate impact will be existing customers of motherboards will be diverted into non-Intel motherboard and high chances of going non-Intel based CPUs as well.
Personally, they should minimize focus and still continue with less resources.
How about server blades?
I have used a lot of Intel motherboards over the years. I believe Intel's presence in this area has been very positive, providing price and quality discipline. Also, Intel used this business to legitimize new, more reasonably sized form factors like Mini-ITX.
I hope this is not another example of a western company backing out of a business area because the competition got tough.
FYI, a decade or more ago, the mobo biz helped Intel get its latest CPUs and tech initiatives out in the market quickly.
Now ODMs are larger and more sophisticated, and Intel has fewer desktop initatives, given the nfocus on mobile.
I suspect ultrabooks (a form of notebooks) are fairly non-standard given the kinds of convertables, tablets and other form factors for them are still in an experimental stage.
Re chip sets: Now that the memory controller, PCI Express and Graphics are all in the CPU package there ain't much of a chip set business anymore.
Interesting article but perhaps because I just started reading Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World" my linguistics sensibilities have been really tweaked by Intel's use of words here:
"...employees focused on PC motherboards would be redistributed to address..."
Things get redistributed. People get REDIRECTED. It's a subtle distinction, I know, but it's creepy that they did that. Maybe telling.
To bad. Going wireless for everything, especially for sensitive information is NOT a good idea. Way to many ways to monitor transmissions and to intercept, manipulate/hack into. Give me a hardline any day for my sensitive info sharing and business applications.