Intel Partners Say New Haswell Motherboards In Short Supply

Several Intel partners, who wish to remain anonymous, say Intel is facing a shortage of its new motherboards for the chip maker's fourth-generation Core processors, codenamed Haswell, which debuted this week.

Part of the problem, partners say, is the small number of new motherboard SKUs; currently, Intel has only launched its fourth-generation Core i5 and i7 desktop processors, with i3 chips to follow later. In addition, there are currently just five types of desktop boards available at launch. For previous Core launches, Intel has made a dozen or more motherboard versions available.

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Meanwhile, several Intel partners this week received emails from the chip maker reminding them of Intel's plan to phase out its desktop motherboard manufacturing business. The emails also encouraged solution providers to explore partnerships with other motherboard makers, namely Asus and Gigabyte.

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Todd Garrigues, North America channel manager at Intel, said demand for the fourth-generation Core i5 and i7 has been strong, which could be contributing to higher demand for Intel motherboards. However, he said, Intel has already begun shrinking its desktop motherboard business, as evidenced by the smaller-than-normal number of Haswell boards.

"That's why we only have five desktop boards," Garrigues said. "We wanted to send a clear signal that this [business] is winding down."

Intel said it is investigating the reported shortages. Sharon Alt, Intel's director of North American distribution, said the company will work with its distribution and supplier partners to address any shortages and will help solution providers to find alternative motherboards as Intel continues to ramp down its desktop board operations. "We want to make this as smooth a transition as possible for partners," Alter said.

Nevertheless, some system builders thought they'd have more time before having to turn to alternative motherboard options. "We've known this was going to happen for months, but it's still a big transition, and I think a lot of people are still in denial," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus of Minnetonka, Minn. "This is probably going to force companies to make the transition earlier than they expected."

Intel's previous Core launches have also experienced some road bumps. The company's 2011 launch of the Sandy Bridge family of re-architected Core processors was hindered by a recall for Intel's Cougar Point chipset. In addition, Intel's third-generation core chips, codenamed Ivy Bridge, were delayed several weeks and reportedly experienced shortages following the launch.