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Nvidia Corp. will reportedly end its “Designed by Nvidia” mainboard marketing program due to lackluster welcome by mainboard suppliers. While the company will continue to offer reference design devices to its partners, the whole chipset strategy of the fabless semiconductor firm may need a rethink.

Drew Henry, vice president of chipset business at Nvidia, is reported to have said that “Designed by Nvidia” scheme, under which the chipset designer sold mainboards already made under its supervision by a contract manufacturer to brand-name mainboard suppliers, “confused many makers”. As a result, Nvidia decided to stop using the marketing scheme, reports DigiTimes web-site. Nevertheless, the strategy of “pushing standardized motherboard and graphics cards will continue”, the media report claims.

Nvidia launched the “Designed by Nvidia” program back in November 2006, along with the release of the nForce 680i SLI chipset. Back then a number companies, who only put their sticker on the mainboards that were made by a contract manufacturer under the supervision of Nvidia, started to ship enthusiast-class products under their brand-names. The move allowed several companies, including BFG and EVGA, to be on the market with a flagship product much earlier than the renowned leaders of the market, namely Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and MicroStar International.

In late March this year Nvidia formally unveiled the program and said that various kinds of mainboards based on Nvidia nForce chipsets will emerge for different segments of the market, an indicator that the company was pretty serious about its “Designed by Nvidia” initiative.

While the whole program was claimed to be a part of the company’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, the ultimate goal of Nvidia with “Designed by Nvidia” program was to capture a part of Intel-compatible chipsets market with the help of its partners that are mostly known for graphics cards. Given that Intel Corp.’s own chipsets for Intel processors are more preferred both by end-users and well-established mainboard manufacturers, Nvidia needed to sell its chipsets and mainboards primarily via its add-in-card partners, who would be more interested in pushing additional products than in supplying only graphics cards. In addition, selling companies like BFG, Biostar, ECS, EVGA, Jetway or XFX already made motherboards would allow Nvidia to improve time-to-market of its chipsets. However, companies with their own manufacturing capacities might not like the idea of just reselling mainboards that they could make even more affordable, whereas graphics cards suppliers might decide not to sell cost-effective mainboards because of low margins amid limited amount of shelf space or stock space.

Nvidia yet has to announce its new approach of top-to-bottom chipset family roll-out onto the market.

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