Intel will phase out its Verified By Intel (VBI) standardization program by mid-2008, but says it has no such plans for its Common Building Blocks (CBB) initiative.
VBI began in 2006 as a way for notebook manufacturers to demonstrate to buyers of built-to-order computers that they were meeting minimum Intel standards for components such as keyboards, battery packs, and hard disk drives.
An Intel spokesman in Shanghai said the company had met the objectives set out by the program and, therefore, would wrap it up by the middle of 2008, with the launch of Montevina, an upcoming version of its Centrino chip package for notebooks.
"Intel, as a result, will no longer provide testing on specific barebone notebooks for interchangeability or provide technical and post sales support for these select barebones," he said.
However, the company will continue to promote the concept of CBB or standardised, interchangeable parts used in the manufacture of notebooks. The program was introduced early last year. Local assemblers played down the announcement. They said the complementary CBB program had contributed more to their business than the overarching VBI initiative.
"The CBB program is the best result of VBI, and it's what we are relying on when looking at particular notebook vendors to work with at a barebone level," ASI Solutions communications manager, Craig Quinn, said.
"We jumped on enthusiastically with Synnex [the distributor] and got the opportunity to meet different notebook manufacturers in Taiwan, often at Intel's invitation. It was a real plus for us and it's good news they're continuing it."
Quinn claimed there was more uniformity across notebook manufacturers because of CBB.
"For example, having common components like batteries, AC adapters and optical drives made a great difference in terms of supplying spares and stocking replacements," he said. However, Quinn said pushing CBB components through broader distribution channels had seen aggressive notebook pricing in the market.
Ocean Office Automation vice-president of sales and operations, Alex Chen, said the CBB program had helped local assemblers in sourcing components but questioned its overall success.
"It hasn't helped to the extent we were expecting," he said. "The VBI program was good, but it needed a lot more ODMs involved and needed bigger quantities from local players to make it work.
"If the CBB program takes off and Intel can get more people involved, it will make it easier for everybody."