Intel Meteor Lake makes unexpected leap to socketed motherboards

But not, we repeat, not on the desktop

Intel's Meteor Lake processors will apparently make it to socketed motherboards after all, but not those of traditional desktops.

Since its mid-December launch, Meteor Lake has been used exclusively for laptops and NUCs, but not desktop PCs. Instead, Intel relies on its Raptor Lake Refresh processors for the desktop, CPUs that offer much higher performance but lower efficiency than Meteor Lake.

Yet an upcoming iBase motherboard disclosed on X shows that it has an LGA 1851 socket with explicit support for Meteor Lake PS, an otherwise unheard-of variant of Meteor Lake. Materials referencing the motherboard say it is "preliminary" and "coming soon," but iBase has a complete spec sheet for what the motherboard will offer, so it doesn't appear as though this is some sort of mistake on its part.

We have asked Intel to confirm and will update if we hear back.

However, this is most certainly not the kind of motherboard intended for a standard desktop. Codenamed the MI1002, this iBase board is clearly going to be part of the company's embedded computing lineup, and seems to be a successor of sorts to the MI1000, which supports 12th to 14th Gen Intel CPUs. Unlike consumer motherboards, the MI1002 has dual Ethernet ports, COM ports, and 5G support. Plus, it seems to lack the 16-lane PCIe slot that is typically used for gaming GPUs.

It's also likely that Meteor Lake PS is made specifically for embedded, industrial, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Intel previously launched Alder Lake PS, which the company describes as "IoT processors." These PS chips are based on mobile models, which have the benefit of combining the CPU and the chipset so that the motherboard doesn't need a chipset at all. iBase's MI997 embedded motherboard for Alder Lake PS has no chipset in sight, for example.

Interestingly, iBase describes Meteor Lake PS as 14th Gen Intel Core Ultra, a strange combination of Intel's former CPU branding and the new one it introduced with Meteor Lake. It also calls the integrated graphics Iris Xe when officially it's Arc graphics, so perhaps Intel's brand switch-ups has confused iBase somewhat.

Though the MI1002 motherboard means Meteor Lake will be coming to the LGA 1851 and may be the first chip to launch for the socket, it is by no means a desktop CPU. Years ago, it was expected that Meteor Lake-S would succeed Alder Lake-S on the desktop (the S denotes desktop-grade Intel silicon) and introduce the LGA 1851 socket. However, it's become clear we're never going to see Meteor Lake-S and that Intel effectively replaced it with Raptor Lake-S, which has been used for 13th and 14th Gen CPUs. The iBase MI1002 will undoubtedly use the same CPUs in the mobile Core Ultra lineup.

The height of the confusion was just before Meteor Lake's launch, when an Intel executive said the CPUs would be coming to desktops. At the time, rumors about Raptor Lake Refresh chips were swirling, and for a few days there was intense speculation about Intel having two concurrent CPU platforms. However, Intel clarified a few days later that "desktop" actually meant every kind of desktop that didn't involve sockets, such as all-in-one PCs, mini-PCs, and NUCs.

While it seems Intel will make good on its promise that desktop Meteor Lake CPUs will never see the light of day, there's nothing stopping a user from using the MI1002 or a similar motherboard, installing a Meteor Lake PS CPU, then putting that into a mini-ITX desktop chassis. This would technically count as a socketed, desktop Meteor Lake PC, albeit a very obnoxious one. ®

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