Weak finances can lead to fairly unusual alliances, and the ones on the motherboard market definitely fit the definition of “uncommon,” to say the least.
Like most all products, motherboard components get cheaper the more of them one buys at once, which means that first-tier companies (the ones best-known and high on the financial chain) usually get better deals.
Now that European and US customers aren't buying products that much though, even the big names have to cut back on orders.
Thus, in order to get the same deals but avoid oversupply, they have formed alliances with smaller players, according to Digitimes
The large motherboard brands purchase IC chip volumes of at least one million at a time, after which they sell part of them to whichever second-tier company they have an agreement with.
Overall savings of 5% on costs are possible. It might not seem much, but 5% out of several millions is nothing to scoff at.