Asus hoped to ship 25 million million motherboards in 2010, but as the year comes to a close, it will fall short by about 3.2 million boards. Gigabyte will also fall short of its goal, having shipped about 18.5 million units when it hoped to reach 20 million.
It's not just them. According to DigiTimes, every Taiwan-based motherboard maker failed to achieve internal shipment goals, including ASRock, ECS, MSI, and Pegatron. The reason? DigiTimes says the bond crisis in Europe played a big role, as did weaker-than-expected demand in China. That second part is important because China is now the largest motherboard market in the world, at least in terms of shipments.
Everyone expects Intel’s 32nm Sandy Bridge chips with on-die graphics to shed their “upcoming” tag at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, when the chip maker is officially supposed to launch the new CPU range. But that didn’t stop Malaysian computer retailer Compuzone from flaunting pictures of some members of the Sandy Bridge family on its Facebook page, claiming that it already has them in stock. While the photographs have since been taken down, the Sandy Bridge chips along with Socket 1155 motherboards might already be on sale there.
It's true that size matters, and sometimes you want to go small. That's what Zotac's banking on with the release of two new mini-ITX mainboards, one of which the company claims is the world's first AMD mobile-on desktop platform.
Both the Zotac M880G-ITX WiFi and 880G-ITX WiFi come built around the AMD 800 series chipset, with the M880G sporting an AMD Turion II Neo K625 dual-core processor, ATI Radeon HD 4200 series GPU, a pair of DDR3 memory slots, a single PCI-Express x1 port, six SATA 6Gb/s ports, USB 3.0, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The 880G is socket AM3 ready with support for AMD Phenom II, Athlon II, and Sempron processors. Specs are largely the same as the M880G, except it comes with four SATA 6GB/s ports instead of six.
Fans? MSI don't need no stinkin' fans, not for Intel's Atom platform, anyway. The motherboard maker just announced its latest 3.5-inch small form factor (SFF) slice of silicon, the I3-945GSE-D.
This new board kicks it old school with an Intel Atom N270 processor slapped onto an Intel 945GSE chipset. It has "onboard power and a fanless design, making it an excellent all-in-one, high-end solution for use in custom enclosures and embedded applications," MSI says.
Feature-wise, the new board supports up to 2GB of DDR2 400/533 SODIMM memory and comes with a single SATA 3Gb/s port, onboard LAN, a mini PCI-E slot, Realtek ALC887 HD audio, CF slot, and "supports onboard watchdog timer for added system redundancy and security."
Maybe when the dust finally settles, we'll see an Nvidia chipset supporting Intel's Nehalem architecture, after all. During an interview in Tokyo, Nvidia's normally outspoken and candid CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said the two embattled companies asked a Delaware court to postpone a trial originally scheduled for December 6, 2010.
"The two of our companies decided to postpone the court hearing until early next year," Huang said. "And we're always in talks. Our two companies are always in talks.
Huang ended it there, saying there was no other news on the matter. There's also no nForce chipset for Intel's Core i3/i5/i7 series on the horizon, as Intel contends that its licensing agreement with Nvidia, which dates back to 2004, doesn't include its Nehalem architecture. As far as Intel is concerned, the licensing agreement doesn't apply to the DMI (Direct Media Interface) communications bus found in Nehalem, while Nvidia believes it should be allowed to build chipsets around processors with an integrated memory controller.
It hasn't always been smooth sailing for motherboard makers in 2010, but at least for the month of September, all the major players managed to increase revenues, most by 25 percent or more.
Pegatron showed the least amount of month-on-month growth of the bunch at 4.6 percent, followed by Asus with 5.79 percent (Asus is up year-over-year 45.42 percent).
ECS recorded the highest month-on-month revenue growth of them all by jumping up 33.27 percent. No other company needed it more, as ECS is also the only one to post a year-on-year loss, with overall revenue down 8.38 percent.
Gigabyte posted September revenues of $152.7 million, up 25.51 percent on month and 0.2 percent on year, while MSI posted $266.2 million in revenue for the month, up 26.22 percent.
Want to know if you’re a tier 1 nerd? You are if the phrase USB 3.0 Internal Connector Cable Specification Revision 1.0 gets your nerd on. Yeah, we thought you’d get as excited as we did. This is, afterall, one of the final hurdles to getting native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 down in the motherboard.
Not sure what the hell we’re talking about? It’s the spec that defines what an internal motherboard header will be for SuperSpeed USB 3.0. Up until now, case enclosure vendors have had to hack together work arounds for front mounted USB 3.0 ports by running pass through cables that go out the back of the case and plug into the motherboard’s USB 3.0 ports on back.
We've been hearing chatter that MSI is getting ready to roll out a line of ruggedized motherboards and videocards, though details beyond that are disappointingly sparse.
We're not entirely sure how you supe-up a mobo or videocard so that it qualifies as rugged, but we're eager to find out. Maybe they'll come encased in rubber or coated in unobtanium.
Either way, MSI is hoping these new products will help spur sales. The company reported August revenues of around $203.72 million, down nearly half a percentage point sequentially. MSI's graphics card business has been especially brutal, with MSI expecting global shipments to drop by 10-15 percent on year in 2010.
Any old scrap heap will get you from point A to point B, but it’s about the ride, playa, and that’s where the Crosshair IV Formula shines. Not only does the red and black color scheme look pimp, the board backs up its ferocious style with extensive overclocking controls and enough cooling potential to blow down a brick house. How so? Asus plopped eight freakin’ PWM fan headers around the motherboard.
Motherboard makers have had a tougher than expected time moving boards lately and are hoping Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge architecture will kick-start demand, particularly in the enterprise.
Intel's Sandy Bridge product line is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011. These will include Sandy Bridge-based Core i7 2600K, 2600, 2600S, Core i5 2500, 2400, and 2390, as well as Core i3 2120 and 2100 CPUs for the desktop. On the mobile front, Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge lineup will include the Core i7 2920XM, 2820QM, 2720QM, Core i5 2540M, and 2520M processors.
There will also be a Sandy Bridge-based Celeron chip built on a 32nm manufacturing process, which will ship in the third quarter of 2011 for about $50 (thousand unit trays).