Intel Processor Guide

This Is The Guide To Understanding Intel Processors.

There are a number of processor brands currently under the intel banner, namely

Atom, Core M, Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and Xeon.

There are also many variations within these product lines, each product line also has a particular market.

I’ll start things off simple.

Families

Atom – Small devices, netbooks, phones, Chromebooks

Core M – Netbooks, Chromebooks, low powered laptops

Celeron – Budget entry level laptops, notebooks, netbooks, low powered desktops

Pentium – Slightly more powerful low-end laptops, low powered desktops

Core i3 – Entry level performance laptops and desktops, respectable performance

Core i5 – Laptop – Generally slightly higher spec’d i3’s, with a few exceptions

                  Desktop – Mid to low-high end Systems with very good performance

Core i7 – The highest end consumer grade intel processors, these are the most powerful processors you will find from intel on the consumer side, they outclass any other consumer grade processor on the market from any brand.

Xeon – Server and workstation processors, certified for 24/7 operation

Specifications

Laptops

Core M: Dual-core parts. Wide range of clock speeds, 4MB Cache

Atom: Generally single and dual core parts, with the exception of a single quad-core part, namely the Atom E3845 .5-1Mb of Cache

Celeron: Ranging from 1 to 4 cores, low power consumption 1-2 Megabytes of Cache

Pentium: Dual and Quad Core Parts, a wide range of power consumption values depending on the model, 2 Megabytes of Cache

Core i3: Dual core, hyperthreaded, varying wattage 3 Megabytes of cache

Core i5: Dual core, hyperthreaded parts with a higher clock speed than i3’s with the exception of two new i5’s which boast 4 cores, no hyperthreading, namely i5-6300HQ and i5-6440HQ, 3-6MB cache

Core i7:  Quad core, hyper-threaded parts with generally similar or higher clocks speeds than i5’s, with low power variants only having 2 cores, lower clock speeds, and generally less powerful 4-8MB cache

Xeon:  Quad core, hyper-threaded parts, high clock speeds, configurable wattage, 8MB Cache

Desktops:

Atom: single and dual core parts, .5-1Mb of Cache

Celeron: Ranging from 1 to 4 cores, low power consumption 1-2 Megabytes of Cache

Pentium: Dual and Quad Core Parts, a wide range of power consumption values depending on the   model, 2-3 Megabytes of Cache

Core i3: Dual core, hyperthreaded, varying wattage 3-4 Megabytes of cache

Core i5: Generally Quad-core parts with the exception of a few aged and low power i5’s which have 2 cores and hyper-threading 4-8MB cache

Core i7:  Generally Quad core, hyper-threaded parts with generally similar or higher clocks speeds than i5’s, 4-8MB cache, with extreme edition variants having from 4 to 8 cores, and upwards of 10 to 20MB Cache

Xeon: The minimum number of cores in this family of processors is 4, hyper-threaded parts, wide range of clock speeds, up to 45MB Cache

Generations

Within intel’s families of processors, there are different “generations” representing different processor architectures, rather than having a completely different naming scheme each year intel chooses to approach the naming scheme in this manner. This article deals with intel processors, from the Nehalem architecture onwards within this lineup intel introduced the Core I series of processors, seeing as these would be the most popular consumer-grade processors, this guide will show you how to differentiate between the different generations

Generation 1 – Nehalem, introduced in 2010, these processors have a 3-digit naming scheme:

Core i3 -540

Core i5 – 760

Core i7 – 930

Generation 2 – Sandy Bridge, introduced in 2011, these processors have a 4-digit naming scheme, beginning with the number 2, i.e. the number in the 2 thousands:

Core i3 – 2100

Core i5 – 2500

Core i7 – 2600K

Generation 3 – Ivy Bridge, introduced in 2012, these processors have a 4-digit naming scheme, beginning with the number 3, i.e. the number in the 3 thousands:

Core i3 – 3120

Core i5 – 3570K

Core i7 – 3770T

Generation 4 – Haswell, introduced in 2013, these processors have a 4-digit naming scheme, beginning with the number 4, i.e. the number in the 4 thousand:

Core i3 – 4130T

Core i5 – 4690K

Core i7 – 4770

Generation 5 – Broadwell, introduced in 2015, these processors have a 4-digit naming scheme, beginning with the number 5, i.e. the number in the 5 thousands:

There are no fifth generation Core i3 desktop processors

Core i3 – 5005U

Core i5 – 5675C

Core i7 – 5775R

Generation 6 – Skylake, introduced in 2015, these processors have a 4-digit naming scheme, beginning with the number 6, i.e. the number in the 6 thousands:

Core i3 – 6300P

Core i5 – 6500

Core i7 – 6700

Still on intel’s naming scheme the more acute of you may have noticed that some of these processors names ended with letters whereas some did not, these letters do have significance, their meanings are listed below

Letter Meaning Generation Platform
C Unlocked processor with high-performance graphics 5 Desktop
H High-Performance Graphics 4,5,6 Mobile
HK High-performance Graphics, Unlocked processor 6 Mobile
HQ High-Performance Graphics, Quad Core 4,5,6 Mobile
K Unlocked processor 2,3,4,6 Desktop
M Mobile processor 2,3, Mobile
MQ Mobile Quad Core 4 Mobile
MX Mobile Extreme Edition 4 Mobile
QM Quad Core Mobile 2,3 Mobile
R Desktop processor based on mobile sock with high-performance graphics 4,5 Desktop
T Power-optimized lifestyle 2,3,4,6 Desktop
U Ultra-low power 3,4,5,6 Mobile
X Extreme edition 1,2,3,4,5,6 Desktop
Y Extremely low power 3,4 Mobile
S Performance-optimized lifestyle 2,3,4 Desktop

Extreme Editions:

Now that we’ve been through all that, here’s a bit of a tricky part. They do not all have an X at the end, only the highest end extreme editions do. All desktop extreme edition processors with the exception of generation 1, start with the number of the next generation, for example, the i7-3820 is a second generation extreme edition processor, another way of identifying an extreme edition processor is to look at the second number in the sequence, if it is equal to or greater than 8, then the processor is an extreme edition.

Processor Cycles:

Intel’s Tick Tock Sequence represents a change in architecture and a change in processor manufacturing technology. Each “tick” represents a shrinking of the process technology of the previous microarchitecture and each “tock” represents a new microarchitecture. Usually every year to 18 months, there is expected to be one tick or tock. However, in 2014 Intel broke this time cycle due to the expanding times to the next tick.

Note: This article holds an emphasis on consumer grade parts, particularly the Core I series, the other series, like the Xeon, have an entirely different naming schemes, even their own families, such as Xeon E3, E5 and E7, if you would like a guide on Xeon processors as well, simply let me know using our contact page.

This Guide Will be broken down into smaller sections to make it an easier read.

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