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Core i3/i5/i7 Processors: Intel's New CPU Line

William George (Customer Service Lead)

Core i3/i5/i7 Processors: Intel's New CPU Line

Posted on January 15, 2010 by William George

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When Intel first debuted the Core i7 processor line, code-named Nehalem, in late 2008 it made perfect sense.  This line of quad-cores brought several new technologies: Turbo Mode, integrated memory controllers, triple-channel RAM, and Hyperthreading (making a comeback from the Pentium 4 era).  There were three processors at launch, a 920, 940 and 965 - each slightly faster than the one before it, with the '5' at the end of the last denoting that it was an Extreme Edition chip with some unlocked settings to help with overclocking.  Over time the 940 was replaced with a 950, and then 960; the 965 also got an upgrade in the form of a 975. The naming scheme now isn't so simple -- let's take a look.

About a year after the i7 was first introduced, Intel created a second processor line based off similar technology, but using a smaller socket (1156 vs the older 1366) and only dual-channel RAM instead of triple.  Instead of using a different name, though, Intel still branded these as Core i7 processors: the 860 and 870, with a third processor named the i5 750.  The 750 ran at a slightly lower clock speed, but was also missing Hyperthreading (hence the name change to i5).

Having two products with the same name but different sockets and specifications seemed confusing, but now Intel has made it much worse: they introduced several new i5 processors at CES, along with some more under the new name of Core i3.  These new chips are all dual-cores, not quads, and the new i5's have Hyperthreading (unlike the existing i5's).  They no longer have on-die memory controllers, meaning slower RAM performance, but the controller is present as part of a second chip withing the processor; that second chip also has graphics.  One 'special' i5 also has faster graphics than all the others, but it isn't the fastest i5 in terms of clock speed - so you have to pick which is more important to you.  The i3s are also dual-cores with Hyperthreading, but they drop Turbo Mode and have slower integrated graphics.  Oh, and to top it off there is a dual-core version without Hyperthreading... but called a Pentium...

So, as it stands, there are now multiple i7 and i5 processor revisions with very different capabilities and requirements.  To confuse things even more, a six-core chip is rumored to be coming for socket 1366 later this year: early speculation called it a Core i9, which seemed a fitting name, but now rumors say it will simply be another i7.  When the experienced staff here at Puget Systems have to draw diagrams with circles and arrows to keep a naming scheme straight, what chance does a typical user have of understanding it without frustration?  Intel, please keep consumer sanity in mind when naming future products!

For those who are still in the dark, here is a basic chart of the Intel Core iX processors (as of January 2010):

Name Socket Cores Hyperthreading Clock Speed Turbo Mode Includes GPU
Core i7 975 1366 Quad Yes 3.33GHz Yes  
Core i7 960 1366 Quad Yes 3.2GHz Yes  
Core i7 920 1366 Quad Yes 2.66GHz Yes  

Core i7 870 1156 Quad Yes 2.93GHz Yes  
Core i7 860 1156 Quad Yes 2.80GHz Yes  

Core i5 750 1156 Quad   2.66GHz Yes  

Core i5 670 1156 Dual Yes 3.46GHz Yes Yes
Core i5 661 1156 Dual Yes 3.33GHz Yes Yes (faster)
Core i5 660 1156 Dual Yes 3.33GHz Yes Yes
Core i5 650 1156 Dual Yes 3.20GHz Yes Yes

Core i3 540 1156 Dual Yes 3.06GHz   Yes
Core i3 530 1156 Dual Yes 2.93GHz   Yes

Pentium G9650 1156 Dual   2.80GHz   Yes

 


Tags: Intel, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, CPU, Marketing


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Richard

William
Having followed this progression since the first i7s were released, I totally agree with your critique of Intel's naming protocol. What a folly! If they would simply differentiate between sockets, that would greatly simplify it. Then as subcategories, between processing units - quad or dual. Needless to say, the current structure is poorly organized, but your chart does a nice job of summarizing it in an easy manner, making it better for your customers to understand. Thanks!

Posted on 2010-02-17 04:48:22

My system is currently with you guys for some tweaking and possibly a platform upgrade, so this is all incredibly relevant info for me. Thanks.

What are the real differences between the sockets? I am considering an i7 860, which appears to be clocked faster than an i7 920. Why would I consider a 920 if the only difference is the socket?

Posted on 2010-03-01 22:56:00

@Mike -
The 860 is indeed faster than the 920. The 920 is an older model, and the larger socket it uses is part of the reason for a higher cost per clock speed. The only advantage the 920 would have is more memory slots: most socket 1366 boards have six RAM slots, vs four on 1156 boards. The 1366 platform will also be the one getting six-core chips eventually (so rumors say), so it has an edge in terms of a future upgrade path - but the added cost of that would be pretty high I'm sure.

Posted on 2010-03-01 23:06:40

Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition .VS.
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black

i7 Bloomfield 3.33GHz LGA 1366
AMD 3.4GHz Socket AM3

i7 130W Quad-Core Processor
AMD 140W Quad-Core

i7 QPI: 6.4GT/s
AMD Virtualization Technology

i7 L2 Cache: 4 x 256KB
AMD L2 Cache: 4 x 512KB

i7 L3 Cache: 8MB
AMD L3 Cache: 6MB

I7 Manufacturing Tech: 45 nm
AMD Manufacturing Tech: 45 nm

i7 64 bit Support: Yes
AMD 64 bit Support: Yes

i7 Hyper-Threading Support: Yes
AMD Hyper Transports: 4000MHz

i7 Top end Intel CPU $999.99
AMD Top end AMD CPU $249.00

Posted on 2010-03-31 19:09:00
Taro

Hi, I'm going to buy new i5, I want to know more the exact differences of its types.

Posted on 2010-06-18 14:53:33
Taro

Btw, what do you mean by the "faster" GPU in core i5 661?

Posted on 2010-06-18 15:14:42
Taro

Why core i5 750 doesn't support hyperthreading, meanwhile it's a quad?

Posted on 2010-06-18 15:25:06

@Taro -

The Core i5 600-series are all dual-core processors, with HyperThreading - for a total of up to four active threads at a time. They also have built-in graphics, and the 661 model in particular has somewhat (~20%) faster graphics than the rest.

The Core i5 700-series, on the other hand, are quad-core chips. That means they run hotter, and are faster with multithreading / multitasking even though their lack of Hyperthreading still limits them to four active threads. They also do *not* have built-in graphics, making them much more like a Core i7 without HyperThreading than a Core i5 in my opinion.

Posted on 2010-06-18 21:14:34
Taro

Oh I get it. Then what differs between core2 duo and core i5? Both are dual core right? I am considering which to buy, since the price ranged far from each other.

Posted on 2010-06-20 18:19:29

@Taro -

The Core 2 series is older: it was the generation before the Core i3/i5/i7 processors. It came in both duo and quad options (2 and 4 cores, respectively) but had no Hyperthreading or Turbo Boost. I would *not* recommend getting one of those CPUs any more, unless the price is significantly less.

Posted on 2010-06-21 18:10:56
Z Zahran

Intill with it's all versions of CPU's and motherboards that submitted in electronic Market, aims how to exhaust the customers money for it's own benefit,I think that they are theafs,like microfost with it's windows versions

Posted on 2010-07-27 16:53:42
John

@ Zahran: welcome to the real world. For-profit businesses do not exist for charitable purposes.

Posted on 2010-09-19 20:58:29
AC

Great post and table, many thanks. Thats what happens when you employ "marketing people" :-)

Posted on 2010-10-30 06:56:59
Dan

I got intel i5 650 processor is this compatible with triple channel Rams?

Posted on 2010-11-10 02:52:21
phoenix

want to know if the hp pavillon dv6-3112sa is a good laptop:in terms of cpu,gpu and price. thanks

Posted on 2011-04-16 08:30:30
Roshan

WHY ALL THE SERIES OF I(AS I3 ,I5,I7) NAMED AS I BEFORE THEIR NUMBERS ??
                                                  OR
WHY  THESE  CALLED I SERIES??

Posted on 2011-09-03 11:00:10
Donzclark

AMD CPU s ARE JUST AS GOOD AT HALF THE COST !!! DONNIE ............ C     THX  

Posted on 2011-11-07 22:40:54
Guest

the contents were taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... ; Aug 2012

With the release of the Nehalem microarchitecture in November 2008,[14]
Intel introduced a new naming scheme for its Core processors. There are
three variants, Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7, but the names no longer
correspond to specific technical features like the number of cores.
Instead, the brand is now divided from low-level (i3), through mid-range
(i5) to high-end performance (i7),[15] which correspond to three to five stars in Intel's Intel Processor Rating[16] as opposed to the entry-level Celeron (one star) and Pentium (two stars) processors.[17] Common features of all Nehalem based processors include an integrated DDR3 memory controller as well as QuickPath Interconnect or PCI Express and Direct Media Interface on the processor replacing the aging quad-pumped Front Side Bus
used in all earlier Core processors. Also, all these processors have
256 KB L2 cache per core, plus up to 12 MB shared level 3 cache. Because
of the new I/O interconnect, chipsets and mainboards from previous
generations can no longer be used with Nehalem based processors.

Posted on 2012-08-19 08:23:43
Solved

the contents were taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... ; Aug 2012

With the release of the Nehalem microarchitecture in November 2008,[14]
Intel introduced a new naming scheme for its Core processors. There are
three variants, Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7, but the names no longer
correspond to specific technical features like the number of cores.
Instead, the brand is now divided from low-level (i3), through mid-range

(i5) to high-end performance (i7),[15] which correspond to three to
five stars in Intel's Intel Processor Rating[16] as opposed to the
entry-level Celeron (one star) and Pentium (two stars) processors

Posted on 2012-08-19 08:24:39
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