Intel to Exit Motherboard Business After Haswell

Today Intel [NASDAQ:INTC] announced that they would be moving out of the desktop motherboard business. Specifically, the business where they design and manufacture reference boards. These boards are generally considered the baseline for most chip sets and many system integrators and IT departments alike buy them in bulk. Now, looking to the future for the company, we can’t say that this isn’t a bad decision considering our past experiences with Intel’s reference boards with some having problems with USB ports and with others having BIOS that fry themselves.

Looking at Intel’s business itself, the motherboard business is not necessarily one that Intel should have to be in to begin with. When you consider the fact that players like ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock and Biostar are already producing the majority of Intel-based motherboards, Intel is simply competing with their own customers. By exiting the desktop motherboard market, they allow their customers to actually sell more boards and for Intel to shift to a chipset only business.

While there are rumors that chips like Broadwell will be BGA only, forcing consumers to buy CPUs already installed on motherboards, we do not believe that these will accelerate into the desktop space. Obviously with form factors like tablets and Ultrabooks we will see Broadwell BGA-based systems, but we don’t foresee this happening in the standard desktop form factor for quite some time, if ever.

This may impact Intel’s revenue a bit, however, it is better for Intel to refocus their efforts on mobile and smaller form factors like the NUC. What will be interesting is to see the evolution of Intel’s motherboard partners in the future as more and more components begin to be integrated directly into the desktop chip until it becomes an SoC itself. Right now, though, we can imagine that the Taiwanese motherboard vendors are enjoying an early Chinese New Year gift.