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back to article Intel to leave desktop motherboard market

Intel has decided to stop making desktop motherboards. Except one. In a statement sent to El Reg, a Chipzilla spokesdroid told us “In order to focus on new and innovative areas in desktop computing, Intel has made the decision to ramp down the Desktop Motherboard Business over the course of the next three years.” Motherboard …

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Pint

Intel Desktop Mobos

A pity, they were never the fastest or most groundbreaking product but they are rock solid reliable

The Channel likes the product, sure a few dollars more than an ASUS oe Gigabyte equivalent, but Intel's warranty policy is fairly decent.

I don't think most will miss the products, but the OEMs may just shed a tear or two.. after all the little "Genuine Intel BOXDH77EB - Eb Lake LGA 1155 Motherboard" on the quote gives some buyers a peace of mind..

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Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

I've used them for some years and not a glitch. I'll probably try ASUS next, but don't know how reliable they are when running in a hot environment. I guess I'll find out.

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Meh

Reliable, yes but so is an average family car.

Most buyers want cutting edge, innovative design and boundaries that are pushed.

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knowing a small OEM and repair shop that's been around since 1984 .. by FAR most customers, including gamers want the reliability first .. I don't care how "cutting edge" the PC a customer has .. they are NOT happy when hardware dies or glitches even occasionally

other than one failing hard drive I was able to clone completely, not losing a thing .. I have not had a piece of hardware fail in over 15 years .. all Intel CPU and the 2 most recent .. Intel Mobos ..

have a 200MMX Win95b machine that I boot up every few months just to see if it will .. same with a P3 667 Win98SE .. those both have GigaByte boards, in those times, the reliable choice

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Anonymous Coward

Most buyers want....

...Laptops and fodleslabs....

But seriously, I'd say most buyers are motivated by price and spec more than "cutting edge design". Remember that most new tech purchaes these days aren't by power users, but rather by regular consumers who will take what's offered, if the price is right.

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"Most buyers want cutting edge, innovative design and boundaries that are pushed."

Some do. Most don't. They really don't. Most people want something that works and that works reliably. I'm not saying that an Intel board required for that but to say that most people want flashy features on a motherboard that is never likely to do more than process the occasional Excel spreadsheet and browse Facebook is silly.

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Linux

Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

A great shame. They were rock-solid reliable. Even more important, you were absolutely certain that if you ordered another one a year or two later, the hardware on it would be exactly the same as the first one you ordered. (You'd have thought that was universal, but it isn't. Some manufacturers stick a small v1 v2 ... suffix on the part-number, which many suppliers drop. Some PC vendors feel that they have carte blanche to supply any hardware they feel like, whatever the stickered "model number" says!

Intel were also the most linux-friendly motherboard manufacturers that I know of.

Sigh. Maybe they know that there's a shit-storm of epic proportions on the way, because of secure boot and (non-)support for non-Microsoft keys, and they don't want to be making motherboards at all when it arrives so they don't suffer accusations of guilt by association?

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Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

So, serious question. What would you recommend as a replacement brand of motherboard that has the next best system support and reliability?

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Not at all

I run a network for 2 care companies (used to be 3) of around 100 desktops each. As most apps are delivered via terminal server I only want reliability, the future tech is for someone else to deal with.

I imagine you are speaking as a gamer, although I did work in a simulations environment and probably wouldn't have bought Intel boards there.

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Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

Supermicro or Tyan

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Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

Intel Garibaldi. I will say no more.

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Anonymous Coward

No they don't

Most people want to know that what they're buying will do the job. That is why Apple have been so successful, they have managed to package that dull family car into a package that almost everyone wants ... because people crave reliability more than anything else.

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Alien

Not really good news

I just hope this isn't the beginning of the end for standardized, open computer systems anyone can assemble from their choice of components, topped off with an operating system of their choice.

As for reliability concerns: Since ASUS started making boards with beefed up, high-end voltage-regulation components, I haven't had any problems.

I never turn off my system. Windows uptime is often several months. So obviously, its reliable. And I don't just browse the internet and do spreadsheets, I use a large variety of applications, some of which use CUDA, also digital audio recording and other content creation software.

I'm not trying to advertise ASUS, but I stopped buying intel mainboards after some glitchy boards in the early 90's, when I used to be in the business, and most the alternatives of the day are all history now.

As for the PC sales decline, I think there are simply way too many 'good enough' computers owned by businesses and consumers. The benefit of new vs old is relatively small, so people buy sort-of computers they can carry around incessantly.

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Anonymous Coward

They will be sady missed.

And yes, they are rock solid reliable, unlike some other MB manufacturers' offerings.

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What a shame

This really is disappointing news. Like Mondo the Magnificent said, they weren't the most feature-packed boards available, and they certainly weren't the cheapest, but they definitely were absolutely rock-solid reliable.

You could always count on two things with Intel motherboards: 1) They'd work precisely according to their published specifications (which tended to be comprehensive and well written), no more and no less; and 2) They could be relied on to keep ticking, year in and year out. That made them perfect for machines that had to conform to a custom specification and sit in a dusty corner of an office somewhere, reliably chugging along and mainly forgotten about.

This news makes sense, though. My new main work machine has an Intel motherboard and I've come across a few sloppy firmware bugs that would have been unheard of a few years ago. Presumably some staff involved with motherboard development have already moved on.

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Linux

Disappointing

They were my first choice because of their good Linux support.

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In order to focus on new and innovative areas in desktop computing, Intel has made the decision to ramp down the Desktop Motherboard Business

Are they implying there's no innovation left to be had doing MB's?

Or are they implying there's no profitable innovation left to be had doing MB's...

And re: comments on performance...remember the differences in performance between boards was often only a few percentage points. I'd happily trade a tiny performance loss for far better reliability - it's a no brainer.

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Unhappy

Have to agree with some people here, quite sad. I went from one of the top of the range Asus boards to an Intel board and couldn't be happier with it. The Asus (and all the hassle it caused me over the year or so i had it) was just flaky by comparison and when it's a third more expensive i'm not sure that's a good quality, amazing features or not.

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And Asus is probably "best of the rest"!

However, you do well to avoid the most feature-packed of the Asus boards. Go for one that has only the features you actively want. It'll save you money, and it may well be more reliable. That's because it'll be the same or similar to the ones that they are supplying to large PC manufacturers, rather than one that sells in low volume to "enthusiastic" end-users. Less likelyhood of BIOS or hardware screw-ups, and more chance that BIOS warts will get fixed if a major customer demands such a fix. Avoid the very cheapest, though. The cheapest is likely built down to it's price.

Viglen, who we buy our Intel-board-based systems from, use boards made by Asus (to Viglen spec? ) for their lowest-priced systems. Will have to ask what their future plans are!

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"Viglen, who we buy our Intel-board-based systems from, use boards made by Asus (to Viglen spec? ) for their lowest-priced systems."

MSI, actually. It used to be ASUS.

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I didn't realise the phrase "rock solid reliable" was that common.

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SoCs are the future

The announcement is for those who've been away for the last couple of years also the end of the desktop computer in its various ISA forms.

Notebooks and similar designs (Raspberry Pis, I-Macs and MacMins, etc.) with even higher degrees of integration is what the market wants. I don't know about the rest of you but I can't remember when I last opened a desktop to change the chip or one of the cards. For additional components we now have fast enough buses (SATA, Thunderbolt, etc.). Desktops will still be around but expect to see them disappearing off websites and from shop shelves.

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Re: SoCs are the future

Desktops will never truly die; businesses love desktops. They are much cheaper than laptops, and as long as your employees are chained to a desk, might as well chain the computer, too. Oh, sure, some employees need laptops, but for basic office work, a PC does just fine. Then again... those desktops might as well have laptop motherboards inside; most of them will never have the case opened, let alone anything added to them.

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Better to change with the times than stubbornly stick to a form factor which is slowly losing market share, get left behind and eventually die. The landscape is littered with the corpses of computer companies which either didn't see the changes coming or couldn't adapt fast enough. Amiga, Atari, Control Data, Cray, Data General, MIPS, NeXT, Prime, Sun, Wang, nearly IBM which has since sort of recovered, and possibly Nokia in the not too distant future.

Desktop computers may remain as gaming platforms and workstations for software developers, but I'm not even sure that will last must longer. I use a large ASUS RoG laptop (17" screen) as my gaming machine now, and although it is definitely inferior to a tricked-out PC with say a 27" screen it is usable. At work I have a Dell tower form factor work station, but many of my co-workers are using Apple laptops docked to large screens and developing on virtual machine environments located on remote servers.

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Business?

The conventional PC (in broad terms - regardless of OS) will be around for a very considerable amount of time in businesses. It costs too much to change platform. If doing so causes serious disruption to business function, it can be fatal to the business!

As I've pointed out many a time, any job function which requires user input in significant quantities requires a keyboard and a mouse. Until tablet manufacturers work this out, they'll make no inroads in such areas. Pure tablets are data-consumption devices. They may have business applications, but only ones where very little data is being fed in.

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Stop

One small point...

Amiga didn't fail because it "couldn't see the changes coming or couldn't adapt fast enough." The Amiga was cutting-edge technology even after Commodore went bust in 1994. AmigaOS went through several iterations, and several companies continued producing accelerator boards and and hardware for it, well into the late 90s. Amiga adapted and led the changes, it didn't just follow them.

The Amiga died because: 1) mismanagement at Commodore US caused the American branch of the company to fold, depriving the platform of vital advertising and marketing; and 2) more importantly because Gateway bought it and deliberately buried it, hoping to capture the Amiga market and hook them into their line of Windows PCs instead. In a fantastic case of computing karma giving a greedy company what they richly deserved, however, the Amiga fanbase were rabid Wintel/PC haters at the time, and took so long to make the switch that Gateway's purchase of Commodore's assets bankrupted the bastards before they could realise any profit from it.

So while the Amiga's corpse does "litter the landscape" of computing history, it's not for the reason you posit.

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Pint

Oxymoron?

I don't disagree with their decision, but the way they phrased the reason sounds idiotic:

"In order to focus on new and innovative areas in desktop computing, Intel has made the decision to ramp down the Desktop Motherboard Business" --So essentially, no longer making desktops will allow Intel to be more innovative with them.

Sounds kind of like if Ford decided to be more innovative with cars by only supplying engines and not the rest of the car.

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Re: Oxymoron?

I agree. The excuse didn't compute. It's like there is another agenda afoot for some such.

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Facepalm

Re: Oxymoron?

"....So essentially, no longer making desktops will allow Intel to be more innovative with them....." They mean more innovative with products for what are largely replacing desktop PCs - set-top boxes, tablets and ultra-thin laptops. The problem for us enthusiasts that like to build our own systems is that set-top boxes, tablest and UTLs don't offer the same choice in components for self-build. Hopefully Gigabyte, ASUS and co can still make enough profit to continue offering us the build-you-own option.

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Re: Oxymoron?

Not such a silly analogy, nor such a silly business plan. Witness Rolls-Royce. They make engines for aircraft. (They also license their name to a car manufacturer, because for historical reasons the brand has value). Or witness IBM getting out of HDD manufacture. Or ARM never getting into chip manufacturing in the first place.

Intel are primarily a silicon chip designer and manufacturer. Much as I wish they weren't getting out of motherboards, I can understand the reasons why they might be doing so.

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Unhappy

Oh dear..

My problem with the non-Intel suppliers of motherboards is that the support material available from their websites is almost always rubbish - and the number of motherboards we've purchased that have had such useful features such as duplicate motherboard GUIDs and other enterprise stuff that Intel just got right and others didn't.

Our suppliers can customise the fleets of PCs we buy from them because Intel provide the tools to customise the BIOSs - no idea if ASUS, etc. are geared up for doing the same - I hope they are.

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Devil

Re: Oh dear..

duplicate motherboard GUIDs

Hah! I raise you duplicate MAC addresses. Until you've experienced it you can have no idea how much "fun" two PCs on the same network with the same MAC address can cause!

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Devil

Re: Nigel 11 Re: Oh dear..

"..... two PCs on the same network with the same MAC address....." One of the "joys" of VMware is that you can manually change the MAC address of a virtual machine's virtual Ethernet adapter. It is quite possible to end up with conflicts where two VMware admins, unaware of the other's choices, try using the same MAC address range and IP addresses on neighbouring VMs. Of course, if you're feeling evil, and know that a co-worker is currently working themselves into a lather over VMware networking, it's fun to change the MAC addresses of another VMware instance to match those of the problem one, especially if you only do it for a few minutes at a time.....

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Re: Oh dear..

Been there, done that, a long time ago with AT&T StarLAN10 cards. After getting over the disbelief, we pulled and replaced both of them.

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Happy

personally, i'll be keeping my primary data source local ....on a mid tower box that i can easily mess about with, using a normal keyboard and 3 monitors. cloud back up for sure but im not entrusting everything to some unknown tech somewhere in internet land and then being subject to the whims of my internet connection...

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Unhappy

Similar Sentiments

I also share the same sentiments as those above - Intel Desktop boards are brilliant and 'just work' as expected. They may not have fancy lights or unique colour schemes, but like a battleship - pretty reliable.

I have always been reassured by how many desktop boards found their way into network appliances. I guess the smaller form factors and SoCs mean the ATX market is collapsing for all but hard-core gamers, and this was never a target market for Intel. Whilst I like the ITX form factor, I've yet to find a supplier that offers four memory slots which kind of knackers it for me using it in my builds.

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Re: Intel are struggling

they are stopping making the final product (motherboard) but not the components (chipsets) that go in them.

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WTF?

Re: Intel are struggling

"....Things are looking decidedly shaky for CISC." And there was me waiting for Larry Ellison to wildly jump on this as more "proof" that Itanium is "dead". How is Intel withdrawing from making one compnent of what is a declining format the "deathknell" for CISC? Talk about taking 1+1 and saying the answer is 3,000,000.

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Re: Intel are struggling

Was Rolls-Royce struggling when it withdrew from manufacturing automobiles? (Rolls Royce aero engines, that is: they still license their name to a car company for historical reasons).

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Re: Intel are struggling

@Nigel 11

Rolls-Royce was ruined by development of the RB 211 in 1971 and nationalised. The car business was "de-merged" in 73.

So possibly yes.

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Stop

Intel made other vendors fix their [censored]

In 1995 I remember Intel releasing a sampler board for their original Pentium CPUs to PC makers. This board came with a whole list of caveats describing how certain peripherals didn't work with it because said peripherals violated some standard or another. It didn't stop Intel from embarrassing the management of one Canadian-based PC manufacturer because the board ran faster than anything they could design in-house with the same chipset.

If nothing else, Intel made other board makers and peripheral makers take heed: Fix your [censored]. These days, if any major company tries to enforce some actual standards they get blasted for "uncompetitive practice." Or some such nonsense.

I guess now is the time to upgrade my PC if I want some actual quality parts. The latest AMD / ASRock build I saw someone do is still crashing eight hours into regular use.

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Go

Opportunity for AMD?

It occurs to me that this might be an opportunity for AMD. Establish AMD motherboards as the ones you choose when you put stability and reliability and good documentation ahead of loads of fancy features. Maybe hire some ex-Intel motherboard people to make it happen. Above all, make sure there's good support for non-MS secure boot. Ship all such boards with all widely-used keys pre-loaded, and a bios menu to "enable [xxx] secure boot key", "disable MS-Windows secure boot key", etc.

I'd switch from Intel boards to AMD in a jiffy, if this happened. Even if AMD never again manage to compete in the CPU performance stakes. How much CPU do most business users need, in any case?

I'm probably dreaming.

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Nice to stay on-brand

The great thing about Intel mobos it that you could pretty much any OS on them you wanted. You knew the system would see Intel chips for graphics, audio, network, USB, disk controller and so on. Even when they did drift off-brand (ethernet PHY chips come to mind) it was always something very well known and widely supported.

I use NetBSD as my primary server OS and got into the "if it's an Intel chip use an Intel board" thing a long time ago. It seems most other manufacturers (even "premium" ones such as Asus) have a tendency to drop in the occasional oddy-oddball support chip either to save a few bucks or for "product differentiation". It only takes some small quirk or less-than-stellar driver support for that chip and what would otherwise be a reliable system is completely unsuited to production use if it works at all.

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WTF?

"only sell 4m a year"

Surely that's not including the OEM market?

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Megaphone

I imagine they are pulling their horns in...

And focusing on their core business (chips!). They used to make lots of things like network switches, but frankly my experience with those was not good. In an uncertain world where many economies are still in recession they have too much to lose, so rather than risk the company by trying to second guess the market they are probably thinking that pulling their horns in and focusing on their chip business will mean they can play the chip end of whatever games succeed in the market place. Less of a gamble. I don't blame them.

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Anonymous Coward

Thank heavens for that. Has anyone else tried to install their Win drivers when the driver installer point-blank refuses to let you put the *same* drivers in a server or enterprise Win OS build because it thinks the M/B might be a desktop (priced) one?

And top marks for the Core2Duo sans VT-X support on random minor model revisions, cheers Intel.

T6670 had, T6600 didnt. Nice. No chance of WinXP mode or Hyper-V on the T6600 then.

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Bah!

My guess is that we will be seeing more "system on a chip" computers sold into the market of the trad desktop as people become more at ease with Linux (and when the Linux distro community get that people don't do computers for fun and don't want to learn about them any more than they want to learn how to build an airframe before flying somewhere or change a crankshaft bearing before they go for a drive).

I can't wait for that day. It will make my life easier if I can find such a machine for my elderly mother-in-law who really struggles with basic computer concepts ("My e-mail doesn't work" means the preview window is no longer visible) and cannot grasp certain safety issues like not opening stuff from Africa or Belarus written by people she has never met.

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No loss here....

Personally, I have used MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte for the past 12 years, never had a duff board, never had any hardware issues. But, support and software packages supplied by the above are medioca at best. Gigabyte is renowned for its unfinished college-grad-project software look and feel... Asus are a bit better in that respect. I always use mid-range boards, anything under £120 is just not worth the (a) lack of features (b) lack of quality components (c) reliability in 24/7/365 systems.

My prior system was a mid-range Asus based board, i7 920 CPU, it was powered on for 2.5 years non stop with no problems from the board ever. I just sold that on ebay and expect it to work in its new home years to come.

New board is Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H, crap apps, but the board has been solid for 3 months now 24/7.

For non Windows systems, well, you can always check what chips are onboard and make sure that you can get dirvers before you buy. Compatibility with Linux these days is reasonably ubiquitous for mainstream manufacturers/chipmakers/chipsets no?

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