Intel sheds some light on Core i7 derivative branding

The rumor mill has been calling upcoming Lynnfield processors “Core i5” for some time now, but at Computex, Intel’s Francois Piednoel told us rumors about the name were wrong. Other sources indicated that the chips would be branded Core i7, while future dual-core, 32nm Westmere CPUs would be called Core i5.

Intel Corporate Communications Manager Bill Calder has now clarified the situation in a blog post about Intel’s new branding initiatives. Apparently, the truth lies somewhere in between:

2) Secondly, we are focusing our strategy around a primary ‘hero’ client brand which is Intel® Core™. Today the Intel Core brand has a mind boggling array of derivatives (such as Core™2 Duo and Core 2 Quad, etc). Over time those will go away and in its place will be a simplified family of Core processors spanning multiple levels: Intel® Core™ i3 processor, Intel® Core™ i5 processor, and Intel® Core™ i7 processors. Intel Core i3 and intel Core i5 processors are new and now join the previously announced Intel Core i7 modifier. It is important to note that these are not brands but modifiers to the Intel Core brand that signal different features and benefits. For example, upcoming processors such as Lynnfield (desktop) will carry the Intel Core brand, but will be available as either Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 depending upon the feature set and capability. Clarksfield (mobile) will have the Intel Core i7 name.

Several questions still remain: what exactly will differentiate Core i5- and Core i7-branded Lynnfield offerings? And what of the Core i3? Will that name designate future 32nm Westmere dual-core processors, a subset of them, or something else entirely?

Recent reports suggest some Lynnfield processors won’t have Hyper-Threading enabled, so it might make sense for Intel to brand HT-enabled flavors Core i7 and others Core i5. That way, all parts with four cores and eight threads would fall under the Core i7 umbrella.

In any case, we’ll probably find out for sure by late August or early September—that’s when our sources tell us Lynnfield will arrive.

Comments closed
    • sigher
    • 12 years ago

    Nothing better than changing naming based on obscure vague specification every 5 months, right? Well AMD and intel can’t be wrong so it must be right.

    Which reminds me, isn’t it time nvidia and ATI changes the name of all their old products again? There is a risk now somebody on the planet gets an overview in his/her mind and we can’t have that.

    • snakeoil
    • 12 years ago

    boycott intel for abusing consumers!

      • vikramsbox
      • 12 years ago

      I wouldn’t say that far ahead. Intel’s Core has provided good competition and the competition between Intel and AMD has given us excellent value for money. Its the way Intel’s honcos keep hanging onto the dominating style of marketing of the p4 days that is not worth praising.
      Very complicated product line-ups, choking nVidia from the chipset business, are all indicative of the intel from the Prescott days.
      In the absence of competition, everyone sleeps. Intel slept from 2002-2005 when the P4 reigned (in market share), likewise AMD slept from 2003-2006.
      IMO, platforms give more satisfaction than the CPU alone. In the budget/ midrange segment, the lower VFM of Intel’s platforms compared to AMD/nVidia is what will affect my next purchase decision.

    • Rompbot
    • 12 years ago

    I think everyone commenting on this article suffers from the same problem: after years of dealing with marketing naming conventions such as these, there is a specific area of gray matter in our brains tailored to interpreting these conventions.

    We’re part of a very small group that actually knows what this stuff means. The Dell and Walmart crowd still asks, “why didn’t they just call it the pentium 5?” and still asks for clarification, “Do the bigger numbers mean it’s faster?”

    This is why our economy is in ruins. People felt they were stupid by not understanding the naming scheme, declared themselves “bad at computers” and bought a smart phone instead.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Well, I was with you until you got to “why our economy is in ruins” part. So it had nothing to do with mortgage-backed securities and CDOs (and giving loans to people who had no business getting them)? The real problem was all those people bought iPhones? Another reason to hate Apple, I guess.

        • Rompbot
        • 12 years ago

        lol, sarcasm. 🙂

    • idgarad
    • 12 years ago

    I’ll say it:

    CPU marketing is BS. There is no reason for 20 different versions of a processor. I can understand the rating for Ghz based on load but seriously there is no need for 8 different versions of a processor with XYZ cache, bandwidth, etc. It’s not flexibility, scalability, it’s marketing noise.

    Core 7i X,Y,Z in various Ghz
    Core 5i A,B,C in vartious Ghz

    There is no reason to have 8 different Core5i processors with different L1,L2,L3 cache, bus speeds, etc. It is needless carrot and stick baiting.

      • vikramsbox
      • 12 years ago

      Bingo! CPUs are basically use n throw items. So the more a company does, through needless variations in features without logic, to create n number of product categories within the same product family, the consumer suffers. He ends up replacing an otherwise good CPU sooner than required and pays more for a specified period of time.

        • UberGerbil
        • 12 years ago

        “Consumers” don’t replace CPUs — they eventually buy a whole new machine from an OEM. And the OEMs want a variety of cost points for their components so they can trade off features to hit certain price targets.

        So while there definitely is a certain “Scully at Pepsi” aspect to this (John Scully famously realized that all they were selling was colored sugar water, so he came up with the 2L bottle and all the other packaging variations to sell the same thing in different guises), it is also true that Intel is trying to maximize their product line for their customers (who are OEMs, not consumers). Of course they’re also trying to maximize their profits at the same time. And I agree they’ve started slicing the segments too finely. Which they’ve apparently already realized, hence the intent to rationalize things (whether they actually accomplish that, given the forces driving them in the other direction continue to exist, we’ll have to wait and see).

      • SPOOFE
      • 12 years ago

      /[

        • vikramsbox
        • 12 years ago

        Spoofe. I respect what you said. It does make sense. But hardware companies like Intel/AMD/ATI/nVidia sell their products to a wider range of consumers than just computer savvy persons. Judging by how much intel sells to the office space and other things- many many CPUs are sold to people who just want to use CPUs.
        They first lock onto a brand as being more preferable (or just the only one available) then they go in by the old adage- more GHz/more cores is better. many salesmen also don’t enlighten them.
        The moment product differentiation is based on those very feature sets that was considered for granted till now, it becomes wrong.
        Intel’s current strategy of differentiating on every conceivable feature is dangerous in the long run. It was ok in the Core2 lineup, as only the CPU needed to be changed (as I found out twice), but look at the Core iX series! They have out a different socket for every damn variant. You’ll end up always buying a CPU-mobo combo everytime you want to upgrade.
        Consumers’ lack of understanding or mistakes was never so expensive as it is now.

    • Wintermane
    • 12 years ago

    Um people.. your being nitwits.

    The i3 i5 and i7 branding is simply so the walmart and dell crowd can at a glance tell what zone a computer is in. They cant tell by the 920 767 and 2525 blah blah blah numbers but a simple single number can do it for them.

    Its not about features its simply about where the cpu winds up most times. What kind of system it winds up in.

    • snakeoil
    • 12 years ago

    wow core i7, core i5, and now core i3.
    core i5 is a crippled version of core i7 with a new socket, and core i3 is a crippled version of the already crippled core i5
    what a humongous mess. i hope intel fanboys enjoy this.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 12 years ago

      Versus the Core 2 branding with so many different series, clock speeds, FSB speeds, cache amounts and so on…?

      • maroon1
      • 12 years ago

      Core i5 might be different (crippled is such a harsh word to use for someone that doesn’t understand technology) but it still wipes the floor with any AMD CPU at this time, as early tests suggest.

      The way you need to look at this is that AMD had no response to i7, so Intel had to create an even lower end CPU to fill the market segments where AMD is currently at.

    • Hattig
    • 12 years ago

    Ugh, marketing and branding.

    I hope that Intel has got over disabling technologies like virtualisation, now that Windows 7 practically requires it for XP mode.

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t understand XP mode.

      It seems far more effort to me to get XP working under 7 properly to support whatever app or hardware, than to migrate the few apps that Vista didn’t play well with to a newer/supported version. Whatever vendor that said “use XP only” is also unlikely to help supporting their app under XP under 7, as well, virtualization layer only complicating things. I know for our purposes, several vendors do not support virtualization of older server software code on newer OS code.

      Finally, the hardware support is iffy. Why would people invest in newer hardware to get XP mode when they can run it at peak performance under 7 without hacks?

      Sure I can see some areas of application, but really I think this will not be a big selling point for 7g{<.<}g

        • MadManOriginal
        • 12 years ago

        You said it nicely. I was going to say FOR GOD’S SAKE WILL PEOPLE STOP TALKING ABOUT WIN 7 VIRTUALIZATION LIKE IT MATTERS FOR THE VAST MAJORITY.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 12 years ago

        It’s not a big selling point. That’s why it’s a feature of the business versions. Businesses may have applications that aren’t even made anymore, which only work on XP. That’s apparently something that hindered business adoption of Vista.

        Pretty much anyone talking about it here isn’t affected by it in the slightest.

        But as for Intel not disabling features, that will never happen. They’re actually getting worse about it. The only Lynnfield that’s going to be cheaper than current Core i7s has hyper threading disabled. They even disable it on a few Xeons.

          • vikramsbox
          • 12 years ago

          VT may not be used by many, I agree. But the moot point is- is a CPU meant to be bought with such limited scope of usage in mind?
          When I first bought Intel CPUs (first E2160 and then E7200), I expected the Pentium to be the ‘crippled’ version (with slow FSB, no SSE4.1, etc etc), and that the Core2 line will be “full featured” but now it seems that many Core2’s are also crippled in their feature sets.
          How many buyers know whether their media encoders have SSE4.1 or not? Whether VT will require a separate CPU from the one they bought a few weeks back? Businesses users mostly will not be using VT, but many tech students and tech savvy people will.
          And in any case, if this is a justifiable trend (Intel lapping up on MS’s roadmap and Win Editions), then we also ought to see 32bit CPUs, no SSE (only MMX!), linux only CPUs, etc etc.
          And MS’s including it in the Win7BE is just to charge extra for it, and many users will end up choosing the BE, if only for the more complete package, just like Vista.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 12 years ago

            It’s like this: people who knew they would use VT when they got the CPU should have gotten the right CPU at the time. If they didn’t read or understand all the features or didn’t do their research at the time of purchase that’s their own fault. Just because Win 7 b[

            • ClickClick5
            • 12 years ago

            “Uhhhh….I love being in the mountains, so I bought a car to drive around town. Then when the mountains got a heavy snow, I could not go up there. My friends with their trucks could! Why can’t my car?!”

            Amen Mad, If you wanted a full fledged processor with “all” the features, you should of bout one with….tada, “all” the features. No sympathy here either.

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 12 years ago

            Get a grip, you two. People aren’t complaining about buying processors that didn’t have VT. They’re complaining more generally about Intel’s artificial and extreme product segmentation, whereby apparently-similar processors can vary in functionality as significant (for some) as VT.

            Sure, it won’t affect the majority of home users, but that’s not their point.

            Comprehension 101 for you both. And let’s throw in Grammar/Spelling 101 for you as well, ClickClick.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 12 years ago

            So they’re complaining about a feature that’s not there but is not very relevant? Big whoop. Lower chips have less cache and clockspeed too.

            Nah what bugs me is NOW people get all upset about it, and only because of Win 7 XP virtualization. I can’t recall any serious complaints that the lower CPUs that never had VT before. I don’t quite know how to put it but’s there’s just something silly about it – like ‘Wow, XP virtualization! That’s somehting I must use just because it’s there even though I didn’t use virtualization before!’

            • d0g_p00p
            • 12 years ago

            You are acting like people cannot use virtualization just because their CPU does not support “hardware virtualization”

            • ClickClick5
            • 12 years ago

            “Bought” not “bout”, sorry. 😉

            Comprehension? Do you mean composition instead?

            • vikramsbox
            • 12 years ago

            If its like you say, that the VT enabled series were meant to be e6000/q6000 (now obsolete for some months), e8000 and q9000 ONLY by Intel, then why is it enabling it in e7000 and q8000, not to mention the new Celerons and Pentiums? Weren’t these CPUs supposed to be from the non-VT bin by intel (and their very verbal fanboys)?
            If VT is supposed to be a high end feature, then why did intel enable the same in the new Pentiums and Celerons? Also in the new Pentiums, the lowest model does not have it, but the next higher one has it.
            I agree with cars and SUV’s, but what are the tyres on my car (Celeron)- they’re all terrain ones! And on my SUV (E7200), they’re city slicks!

            • MadManOriginal
            • 12 years ago

            I think you need to reread my second paragraph and not put words in my mouth. I never said those were ‘meant to be’ the ONLY CPUs to ever have VT and I even explained a reason behind adding it to lower models for businesses which is the market for which XP virtualization is intended. I don’t know how that’s hard to understand.

            I still don’t understand the complaints. I’ll put it another way: If one didn’t need virtualization when the CPU was purchased, why does Win 7 XP virtualization suddenly mean one does need virtualization? It just seems like you (and to a lesser extent others because they don’t go on about it so much) are complaining to have something to complain about.

            Or put it this way: Later released CPUs have additional features? WHODATHUNKIT?!?

            • vikramsbox
            • 12 years ago

            Read my whole message then. I’m not talking about Win7 as a focus point or the users application set.
            You yourself said that the entire 65nm Core 2 (6000 series) has VT enabled, so why the newer 7000/8000 had them disabled? Weren’t newer CPUs supposed to have newer and better features, as per your own admission?
            Also, if we think Intel reponded to Win7’s positioning of VT as apremium feature, why did Intel now release VT in $60 celerons, when they specifically put that feature in the much more expensive ($180+) 8000/9000 series cpus only a few months back?
            Stop running around in circles and hopping at every comment of mine. The VT feature was known to become a part of OS’s even 2 years back (and Intel implemented it in all Core 2’s apart from the 4000 budget ones way back in 2006, by your own admission).
            As far as a CPU is concerned, VT is NOT a premium feature. Its as premium as EM64T/XD/C1E/EIST/SSE4.1 etc. What would you say if Intel disabled any of these in its CPU’s?
            Forget about MS. The crooks even think that opening more than 4 windows at once is a premium activity.
            I’m not bashing up the techies at Intel/AMD/MS or wnywhere else. They just innovate and implement. Its the marketing windbags who determine the product positioning. I don’t think any of Intel’s techies will disagree that VT is NOT a premium feature as far as a CPU is concerned.

    • sluggo
    • 12 years ago

    Looks like Intel is copying BMW, who also offer 3-, 5- and 7-series products all with multiple performance options.

    OTOH, General Motors had Chevy/Potiac/Olds, at times all selling basically the same product with a few styling changes. At least Intel’s branding makes more sense than that.

    I’ll take that smooth-ridin’ Quad-Core Fleetwood Brougham, please. In black if ya got it.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just single, dual, and quad core labels, kind of like Core Solo, Core Duo, and Core 2 Quad. Then they might dump Pentium dual-core and Celeron brands for lower end Nehalem/Lynnfield/Westmere derivatives.

    I sincerely doubt it will be any indication of “features.” Just look at the mess they’ve made of the Xeon Nehalems. You need a chart just to tell what’s a dual or quad-core, what has hyper threading and turbo mode, what the turbo mode does, the amount of cache, the memory standard…lordy!

      • vikramsbox
      • 12 years ago

      Yes. Some kind of clear structuring is needed. It can be one tier or ten. No one cares. But each tier should have a uniform feature level and the performance and feature structuring should be such as to enable an average user to judge what he’s going to get before buying.
      From what I understood from the C2 series, Intel differentiates CPUs based on the following- No. of Cores, Clock speed, Cache, FSB, SSE4.1, TX, VT.
      The last 3 differentiate mid range and higher CPUs from the lower ones. But over the last few months, the playing around with models is only confusing consumers. One day, they’re getting say a 2.4GHz C2Q for $x and the next day, they’re getting a 2.33GHz C2Q. Sure there are architectural improvements, etc, but heck, not every buyer is an Intel engineer (and looking at the way things have been going, even they don’t seem sure).

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 12 years ago

      I just remembered something else. The rumored 6 core Nehalem isn’t supposed to be called Core i7. As for the 32nm one, that’s going to happen for sure, and would probably fall under the same category, as they’re undoubtedly not going to go calling that Core i7 and lumping it in with Lynnfields after restructuring all of this.

      So let’s say they call the ones with 6 cores Core i9. Then the labeling scheme, based on cores, at least, would make some sense.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 12 years ago
          • Kamisaki
          • 12 years ago

          Hmm, well I suppose you could say that’s simplifying things, from the looks of it their taking the picture from completely opaque to merely muddy. Still, the biggest problem I see is that they’ll have different versions of the same name, Core i7, that won’t even fit in the same socket. I can’t fathom how anyone ever thought that was a good idea. I understand the techies will still do their research and such, but why bother trying to “simplify” if you’re going to pull a stunt like that?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 12 years ago

            Core i7, including the new platforms, isn’t ever supposed to account for more than 1-2% of their shipped CPUs. I don’t think they really care about the socket types, because most all of the sales are undoubtedly to people who already know. It’s safely out of the, “Hey, I’ll slap a computer together for $300 and then get a better CPU 2 years later!” range.

    • cygnus1
    • 12 years ago

    I think this isn’t really that bad. I figure they’ll use the model numbers to differentiate inside each Core iX level

    i7 ALL – HT, VT
    i7 900’s – quad core, triple channel
    i7 700’s – quad core, dual channel
    i7 500’s – dual core, dual channel

    i5 ALL – no HT, VT
    i5 600’s – quad core, dual channel
    i5 400’s – dual core, dual channel

    (totally guessing on the model numbering)

    And so on and so forth. Now, what is f-ed up is having Core 2 Quad 8400’s some with VT, some without. Why not call it 8401, or 8450 or some crap. Hell, even nVidia will give you a new model number for just bumping the clock a little. Recently overheard at nvidia factory – “Somebody sneezed on this batch? New model number!”

    • Hance
    • 12 years ago

    This is the second or third time intel has simplified their marketing names. The large number of different processors made by intel make it almost impossible for anybody to know all the features of all the processors made. Newegg lists 34 processors from intel right now. I didn’t take the time to see how many are duplicates though. I almost think going back to the good old days of processor family and clock speed as names would simplify things.

    • The Mad Duke
    • 12 years ago

    Sigh. What’s really sad is we technical folk expect products to be named based on physical or functional differences. What I think Bill Calder is saying is that the naming conventions will be based instead on Marketing considerations. I guess this is good job security for techies, we will spend lots of time explaining all this to customers.

    – The Mad Duke

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Several questions still remain: How many freakin’ Diamonds will these processors getg{

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      ++

      • flip-mode
      • 12 years ago

      +++ … he he he, I forgot about the diamonds.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    It depends on how consistent they are with these “modifiers.” If they always mean the same thing relative to one another (i5 has the same number of cores but less memory bandwidth than i7, i3 has fewer cores but MCM graphics) then it might not be too bad from a mass-messaging perspective. The current situation has been badly confused from the start (when they decided to use “Core” for the last of the Pentium Ms and then extend it across the “real” Cores and on into Nehalem, and then compound it with absurdly stacked qualifiers like “Core 2 Duo”)

    It’s not going to give the level of detail that enthusiasts/professionals want, but it’s not aimed at us anyway. We’re still going to be picking apart which models have VT and Hyperthreading and whatever, and no broad “brand” — even with some limited set of modifiers — is going to help with that level of detail.

    But I suspect that no matter how clearly-defined the boxes are when Intel Marketing first sets them out, the company’s penchant for permuting features and spinning off derivatives for every market niche will make a hash of it in fairly short order.

      • moshpit
      • 12 years ago

      Mmmmmm, hash. Throw in some scrambled eggs and bacon and we’re set. Intel done made breakfast :p

    • DrDillyBar
    • 12 years ago

    I suppose VT will be a part of the modifier

      • w00tstock
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t believe so, and we have Microsoft to thank for that. Intel seems to be releasing a lot of lower end chips with VT in preparation for Windows 7.

    • Thresher
    • 12 years ago

    Clear as mud. Whoever does their product differentiation needs to be fired.

      • khands
      • 12 years ago

      Agreed, in fact, most of their marketing department needs to be fired.

      • iatacs19
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, no one understands anymore what anything means. intel marketing is a mess.

        • henfactor
        • 12 years ago

        I’m starting to see where Intel gets their naming ideas from…

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