Helping the channel?
To accompany the launch of its Core i7 generation of processors, Intel has also launched its own, high-end motherboard called the DX58SO, but somewhat more catchily codenamed Smackover.
In principle Intel shouldn't need to make its own motherboards as there are numerous third party manufacturers that specialise in doing just that, so we spoke to Tom Rampone (pictured below with a Smackover board), sales and marketing VP and GM of the channel platforms group at Intel to find out why it bothered.
"Nehalem [Core i7] is a really big deal for us and for the channel," said Rampone. "Smackover is an investment to help the channel to make the transition to Core i7."
It seems that Intel doesn't think it's enough to merely produce a new CPU and wait for the channel to get to grips with it, a bit more active encouragement is needed. "This is the first new socket for some time," said Rampone. "The reason Intel makes its own boards is to accelerate transitions. We take more risks on product and ramps in order to kick-start the market."
So it seems that committing to the manufacture of a whole new range of motherboards based on a new socket is something manufacturers might be cautious about, even when it's an Intel processor. Intel is effectively taking on the role of dipping its toe into the water to show manufacturers how the market is responding.