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In a statement provided to CRN, Intel said it had disclosed internally that its desktop motherboard business will "begin slowly ramping down over the course of the next three years." Intel would not disclose the annual sales or number of employees in the motherboard division.
"The internal talent and experience of 20 years in the boards business (which until recently has been largely focused on desktop tower type designs) is being redistributed to address emerging form factors -- desktop and mobile -- and to expand Intel's Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) work and enable our partners to develop exciting new computing solutions," said Intel in a statement sent to CRN.
Glen Coffield, president of Smart Guys Computers, a Lake Mary, Fla.-based system builder and computer retailer that has sold Intel-branded systems as a white box provider for 20 years, said the Intel decision to kill its motherboard unit hit him like a "brick."
"This could be a game-ender for my Intel build-your-own-systems business," he said. "I have used Intel boards for all my systems, repairs, upgrades. This is devastating to me. I would just like to stand up in front of whoever made this decision and tell them they just destroyed the Intel system builder business model. The Intel system builder business is self destructing. These guys think that PCs are being turned into toasters and yet there are few guys left like me to build and support Intel systems."
Coffield said his Intel system builder business peaked at about 10,000 systems a year about a decade ago and is now down to about 1,200 systems per year. "I feel like a cockroach after a nuclear war," he said. "There is nothing left."
As a result of the Intel motherboard decision, Coffield said he is re-evaluating his system builder business model and will look at Intel rival AMD as a possible alternative. The biggest damage with Intel exiting the business, said Coffield, is he will no longer be able to get overnight warranty replacement on Intel boards. The problem, he said, is other board vendors do not have those robust system builder overnight replacement conditions. That will send the cost of supporting those Intel systems sky high, said Coffield.
Intel's Dallman, for his part, said Intel will work on making sure that other board makers have robust warranty terms and support for system builders. In fact, he said, he is planning on meeting with executives from motherboard makers Asus and Gigabyte this weekend to discuss the matter. "We have a year to work this out," he said. "This [overnight warranty terms and conditions issue] is one of the things I am going to talk to them about. Other motherboard makers will step up."