Rumours are now confirmed. Intel plans to enter the hardware market in a big way and also to exclude others…
“so the PC ends with a whimper, not a bang. Broadwell will be available in a ‘desktop’ variant as well as a laptop version, but neither will be socketed. There are a lot of good technical reasons to release it only as an embedded and mobile CPU, but not for anyone other than Intel. They want more of the PC ecosystem, and are taking it. Enthusiasts have been written off, and the rest of the ecosystem is being preemptively kneecapped in case they try to step out of line. The desktop is dead, and with it, PCs become irrelevant, mobile or not.”
By not producing CPUs with sockets, Intel will cut out all kinds of small players, and gain more power over the motherboard makers, even to the point of preventing motherboard makers from competing with Intel.
The other half of this imminent collapse is M$’s entry into hardware with “8″ and “Secure Boot”. the folly of allowing Wintel to rule IT is coming home to roost. The only way out for OEMs and motherboard makers is to switch to ARM or AMD. AMD could surely use the business but could not fill the vacuum of Intel. ARM could. We live in interesting times.
For mere users of IT, this is disastrous. Whatever freedom of choice people had with x86 is gone. No one will be able to upgrade an x86 PC by swapping CPUs, or even replacing a CPU that got fried.
It is the end-times for Wintel. The survivors are grimly killing every competitor in hopes of surviving a bit longer. M$ is on the edge of a cliff. Intel seems intent on defining its own Apple-like hardware domain, increasing share of x86 space by restricting options. Firmly locked into Wintel with no alternative suppliers? Expect to pay more for the privilege of being a slave.
There are few advantages for most of us. A socketless motherboard might be a few $ cheaper and an iota more reliable but Intel will pocket that most likely as anyone who wants an x86 motherboard will be forced to buy from Intel.
Looking back over decades we now see this disaster was foretold in the first agreements between IBM and M$ and Intel. Not requiring M$ to second-source was stupid. Requiring Intel to second-source (Motorola, Signetics, Cyrix,… remember them?) was a bit better but Intel still managed to throttle their competitors in CPUs through instruction-set patents and payoffs. Now Intel is about to leverage it’s monopoly in x86 CPUs into something every bit as ugly as what M$ did.
Despite the obvious fact that GNU/Linux, Android/Linux and ARM are not quite ready to fill the Wintel space (volume, not quality), there is a silver lining. All up and down the food-chain of IT people will be actively seeking choices in hardware and software. When the dust settles, M$ and Intel will still thrive in some cracks but the world will be free to make choices at last. The more M$ and Intel cannibalize their “partners” the more opportunities for */Linux on ARM and, eventually, new CPUs from China.