Now that's pretty quiet. Intel, today, announced its Core i5 and Core i3 branding with very little detail. The post that inspired all of this is here, which I found from Cyril's summary on Tech Report (btw, Cyril's posts pretty much always rock).

The important take away points are as follows:

1) The new brand is Intel Core. There will be three derivatives: Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3.

2) The Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad branding will eventually disappear.

3) Pentium, Celeron and Atom will remain.

4) Centrino will also go away and Intel's WiFi and WiMAX products will inherit the name starting in 2010.

But what separates a Core i7 from a Core i5 and Core i3? I may have some insight. Let's start with desktop processors:

Desktop Processor Cores Threads Turbo
Intel Core i7 4 8 Yes
Intel Core i5 2 or 4 4 Yes
Intel Core i3 2 or 4 4 No


Only the Core i7 is allowed to run in a LGA-1366 socket, however there will be LGA-1156 i7, i5 and i3CPUs . The number of memory channels and the presence of a QPI link does not determine branding. In other words, Lynnfield will be both a Core i7 and a Core i5 depending on the SKU.

The LGA-1156 Core i7s will be the 8xx series, while the LGA-1366 i7s will be the 9xx series. The i5s will be the 6xx series and the i3s will be the 5xx series.

Four cores and HT enabled with turbo mode yields you a Core i7 on the desktop. If you only have support for up to 4 threads then you've got a Core i5; take away turbo and you have a Core i3.

In mobile, things are a little different:

Mobile Processor Cores Threads Turbo
Intel Core i7 2 or 4 4 or 8 Yes
Intel Core i5 2 or 4 4 Yes
Intel Core i3 2 or 4 4 No


The mobile i7 can be 2 or 4 cores and support 4 or 8 threads, which makes sense since there will be more dual-core than quad-core mobile processors. The rest of the lineup follows the desktop rules; i5 and i3 are capped at 4 threads and i3 doesn't have Turbo.

I've got one more thing to report. Remember how I wasn't totally sure about the turbo modes for the top end Lynnfield processor in our preview? I think I've got it:

Desktop Processor Clock Speed Max Turbo (# of Cores Active)
4C 3C 2C 1C
Intel Core i7 870 2.93GHz 3.20GHz 3.20GHz 3.46GHz 3.60GHz


From what I've heard, this is going to be a Core i7 870 and the turbo modes are similar to what I estimated. With two cores active this thing will turbo up to 3.46GHz (4 speed bins). That's going to be a huge boon to performance in games and other apps that have difficulty using more than 2 threads. Combine that with Windows 7's superior thread handling and I believe we have a winner on our hands.



View All Comments

  • taisingera - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    I agree with some here, these model numbers tell absolutely nothing of the specs of the cpu, unlike Q vs E with the Core2. I wonder what Intel will do with future cpus. A refresh might be i4, i6, i8, but then what? Core j{3,5,7} or something like ATI used to do, Core iX3,iX5,iX7 then iXI3,iXI5,iXI7. Yikes! Reply
  • wifiwolf - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    This is just Intel crippling their i7s as they aren't seeing much of a competition for it. That is the same reason they don't release a faster i7, they just don't need to. When AMD gets enough closer they can release a new line-up of champions with 3.2 3.5 and 3.7 GHz and voila.

    I dont see also why i5 don't have SIMD (Hiperthreading) it's a technology they have already researched so what's the point - crippling.
  • marsspirit123 - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    This new cpu's i5 and i3 better have the same or at least 10% worst performance in games than i7.Or they won't be a hit.I mean there is many older cpu's now (c2d ,c2q ,phenomII)matching game performance of I7 920 in games.What would be the use of new cpu if it sucks in games?Of cource they would rock for less than a $100. Reply
  • supaxi - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    That won't be a problem because intel is getting rid of the 920 and 940 low end of the i7 line. They don't want people overclocking i7 processors which loses them sales of the $1000 chips. Enthusiast users will have to live with lower performing i5 processors at least until AMD can put more pressure on Intel.

    It would have been nice to see a 6 or 8 core desktop chip but they will probably be kept in the super high end and server lines for a long time.
  • KLC - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    I have to agree that the purpose for this change seems to be to confuse the buyer.

    If they wanted to make it simple why didn't they match the core number to the series number? In other words,

    Core i8=8xxx series
    Core i7=7xxx series
    Core i5=5xxx series
    Core i3=3xxx series
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    It would have been too easy and clean aproach...
    Actually your model is much better than the intel one... So you will not be hired by Intel in the near future. Sorry!

    The problem is that intel wants to offer i7 products allso in 1156. So essentially it would have had allmost the same product twise only with different LGA. But still you idea is better. They could have named i7 8xxx series as an i6 and it would have been fine. Of cource if they are gonna make i6 later it is a different matter all together.
    Any idea how shrinked versions of this prosessor family are gonna be labelled? (tick and tock)

  • bupkus - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    I just don't have the time to memorize all this stuff.
    Is it possible for someone to publish a table so I can just look up the features of each offering?
  • greylica - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Seems Intel is experimenting processors, numbering then and sending to the people with a lottery, I guess they took the Microsoft Vista approach of splitting the line into a confusing way.
    They love that MESS....
    (New stick for computers - Unknown processor, X.XX GHZ, XX Threads, Variable socket )
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Seems like an unnecessarily complicated lineup to me. Wish they would just simplify and try to increase clock speed. Anyway, the naming is still better than nvidia. At least they arent renaming previous generation technology with new numbers to try to make it seem new. Reply
  • umbrel - Thursday, June 18, 2009 - link

    Doesn't seem that complex:
    i3: no turbo, cheap (crippled?) version
    i5: turbo, normal (full? -4 threads-) version
    i7: expensive (boosted -8 threads-) version

    The mobile segments seems tricky though since by Anand's table i5 and i7 can have the same features.

    There is also if it is more relevant the number of cores (marketing emphasis until now) or the number of threads (new marketing emphasis)

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