For years, Intel has produced its own line of desktop motherboards. Not for much longer, though. This afternoon, we learned that Intel will ramp down its desktop motherboard business over the next three years. As that division spins down, Intel will allocate more resources to reference design development, small-form-factor NUC devices, and "other areas to be discussed later."
According to Intel spokesman Dan Snyder, Intel will stop developing new desktop boards after it rolls out models designed for next-gen Haswell processors. After that, you’ll have to rely on boards from the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI, as most of you probably do already. Those firms are expected to fully support Intel’s upcoming roadmap, Synder says, so desktop boards aren’t going anywhere.
Desktop motherboards are pretty established at this point, and the market is well-served by the Taiwanese mobo makers. There’s loads of growth potential outside the traditional tower market, though. The tiny NUC box is a perfect example. So is Intel’s Thin Mini-ITX initiative, which standardizes components to facilitate a market for DIY all-in-one PCs. It’s unclear whether Intel will produce branded motherboards for use in Thin Mini-ITX and other new platforms or whether it will concentrate exclusively on developing reference designs for its partners.
Regardless of whether any of them bear Intel’s name, desktop motherboards will start looking a little different beginning with Broadwell, the generation after Haswell. A trusted source has confirmed that CPUs will come soldered onto the motherboard for some models, although socketed designs are on the roadmap through at least 2016.