Intel to kill off desktop as we know it, reports claim

As the chip giant puts its eggs in the mobile basket, the desktop is at risk, reports claim.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
A Gigabyte motherboard with an empty socket.
A Gigabyte motherboard with an empty socket. Gigabyte

The end of the desktop is near, according to reports trickling out over the last few days.

Changes in the way Intel connects its processors to the circuit board may signal broad changes to the desktop PC as we know it today.

Desktop processors are attached to the PC's main circuit board (aka motherboard) via a socket. Intel processors compatible with that socket are then inserted by the end user, be it an enthusiast or PC supplier.

This is the design that is in danger of disappearing, reports claim.

Mobile processors, on the other hand, are soldered directly to the circuit board. Soldering the processor has design advantages in the space-sensitive mobile world where every millimeter counts.

But it's an anathema to the desktop crowd: soldering processors to a desktop board would kill the enthusiast market, where DIY gamers, for instance, like to select from a range of processors to suit their needs.

If indeed this is what Intel is planning. A report at chip site Semiaccurate claims this will happen when Intel's Broadwell chip -- designed expressly for mobile -- rolls around in 2014. But the report then qualifies this by saying that it "suspects that this decision has not been made" yet and goes on to say that Intel will "bring back" the socket with a chip design called Skylake.

And there's a Japanese-language report that seems to imply this change is in the works.

That same report opines that this shift away from desktops to mobile reflects "a feeling of crisis" at Intel as power-efficient ARM processors -- which power the world's smartphones and tablets -- eat into Intel chip sales.

Though Intel declined to comment, a source familiar with Intel's plans said reports "have taken a lot of liberties" with the interpretation of the company's future strategy.