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Intel to shut down retail motherboard arm and shift resources to forward-looking products

Intel has announced that it will shutter its long-standing retail desktop motherboard business after the imminent rollout of 4th generation Intel Core processors (aka Haswell).

Those resources will be reallocated to other forward-looking product teams, like the one that recently developed Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) and other groups working on ultrabooks and all-in-one desktops.

Intel's Desktop Motherboard group is responsible for bringing retail-level motherboards and motherboard kits to the market, for use by do-it-yourselfers as well as boutique PC system builders. While desktop motherboards for the end user have been an Intel staple for the past 20 years, other motherboard manufacturers like MSI, Asus, Sapphire, ASRock, and Gigabyte offer many more choices in interfaces, form factors, and added features.

Intel will still produce the motherboard chipsets that are found on these motherboards, but the end consumer will no longer be able to buy an Intel-branded motherboard after the Haswell board life cycle ends in 18 months to two years. Warranty and driver support for upcoming motherboards will continue for their respective warranty periods. That said, the Intel desktop motherboards supporting Haswell evidently will be the last batch of retail-level desktop motherboards from the company.

However, Intel won't be shutting out the DIY PC guy entirely: you'll still be able to buy NUC kits and standalone NUC boards for your own projects. The product lines that are "going away" include all ATX motherboards, including Mini-ATX and Micro ATX models.

Product lines that will benefit from the shifting of resources include the FFRD (Form Factor Reference Design) group, the team responsible for ultrabooks and new crops of all-in-one desktops. Intel's CPU lines will continue, including LGA 2011, LGA 1155/1150, and BGA for entry-level platforms.

"Intel's roadmap includes 227 desktop [CPU] SKUs at 34 different price points, offering desktop solutions for a wide range of customers" said Intel spokesman Dan Snyder.

What does this mean in the long term? Well, if you're a DIY PC person, system builder, or IT pro that builds desktops for your business with Intel branded motherboards, you'll need to find another motherboard supplier, of which there are legion. If you're a desktop PC buyer, carry on as usual: this change won't affect you all that much, if at all.