How Intel processors naming and why it matters

In today’s fast-paced technological landscape, Intel processors have revolutionized the way we experience computing. With their powerful performance and innovative features, Intel processors have become an essential component in various devices, from laptops to desktop computers. As technology enthusiasts continue to seek ways to enhance their computing experience, the significance of efficient hardware has become more apparent. In this context, home improvements can play a crucial role in optimizing the performance of Intel processors. By ensuring proper cooling, adequate power supply, and optimized system configurations, users can unlock the full potential of their Intel processors and achieve seamless multitasking, faster processing speeds, and improved overall efficiency.

Computers, on the other hand, are made possible by processor chips, which are the brains behind them. And when it comes to processor chips, there are few better-known brands than Intel and AMD.

For most computers, you will get to interact with the run on an Intel processor. But despite how widespread these processors are, it hasn’t gotten any easier to understand how they are named. Except through the help of benchmarks and reviews, it is almost impossible to tell the difference in performance between processors.

However, to Intel’s defense, they’ve churned out loads of processors in the past… each meant to meet the needs of a unique segment of consumers, and are still churning out more. The vast number of processors and categories of each make finding an easier naming system a daunting task.

Intel processors naming convention

Now, let’s make it a little easier to understand how they go about their naming.

The two main aspects of a CPU naming include its:

  • Processor line
  • Processor Generation (which is determined by its microarchitecture)

Let’s now tackle these two.

1. Processor lines

Most people are to some degree conversant with the Intel Core naming system which includes the Intel Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 series of processors. It’s not so hard to figure out which one performs better than the other as bigger numbers often denote better performance.

However, before the Core naming system came around, there were other lines of processors in existence such as the Pentium/ Celeron and Atom series of processors. These are low-performance processors compared to the Core processors we’ve mentioned above. We’ll leave these for another article.

Note that higher-end Core processors for servers and workstations are sold as Xeon processors

Since Intel churns numerous processors ever so often with each designed to meet the needs of a specific market segment, it was necessary to class these processors in categories otherwise referred to as lines.

You can know the line a processor belongs to by the suffix at the end or middle of its name.

Some of the common suffixes you will likely come across are:

Mobile

  • X – Very High End, Unlocked – Processors in this category have the most number of cores, offer the best performance and are the most costly. Best for Video Rendering, Gaming, servers, etc. Example: Intel Xeon Core i9-7980XE (XE standing for Extreme Edition).
  • K – Unlocked – Processors in this category have an unlocked multiplier and can be overclocked using traditional methods as long as you have a similarly enabled motherboard. Such is good for gamers and power users.
  • H – High-performance graphics – Processors in this category come with high-end graphics in the mobile segment and consume more power.
  • HK – High-performance graphics, Unlocked
  • HQ – High-performance graphics, Quad-Core – Processors in this category offer high-end graphical performance and have four cores.
  • U – Ultra-Low power – Processors in the category
  • Y – Extremely low power –
  • M – Mobile workstation – You’ll only find this suffix in Xeon Processor for mobile workstations.

Desktops

  • T = Power- Optimized Life – Processors in the line are designed to consume less power and thus produce less heat. They fit in a standard LGA Desktop socket and are low power processors. They are ideal for small form factor desktops and all-in-ones designed with smaller power supplies or less aggressive cooling.
  • P – Slow/ Poor Integrated graphics – Example: Intel HD 510
  • G – Features Radeon RX Vega Graphics that are built-in

Legacy suffixes used in the 5th Generation Broadwell (5000 Series) include:

  • R  – High-End Mobile – This is a desktop processor with a similar architecture to a mobile processor. Is soldered onto the motherboard. The suffix R is Similar to H in other generations.
  • C – Unlocked processor with high-end graphics (Desktop processor) – Similar to K in more decent generations.

Now that that’s handled, let’s help you feel at home with the basics of Core processors.

Intel Core i3 Vs i5 Vs i7 vs i9

The Core line of processors is made up of mid to high-end processors and was introduced in 2006 as a replacement of the Pentium lineup. The Pentium, which was formerly enjoyed a high seat, was now posted as an entry-level line, at the same time pushing the Atom to lower down to an entry-level line of processors.

Examples of the core line include the Enhanced Pentium M (Core Solo and Core Duo) and 64-bit microarchitecture (Core 2 Solo, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Extreme) before entering the 1st to 9th Generation of processors, each with their own Core i3, i5, and i7 processors.

Our main focus is the Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 series of processors.

Core i3

Core i3 processors offer two cores, come with hyperthreading, have a low Thermal Design Point (Meaning they consume less power and produce less heat) and have onboard graphics. They do not feature hyperthreading They offer enough power for users with light computing needs such as content consumption, word processing, browsing, and some light gaming.

Core i5

Core i5 mobile processors equally come with two cores, while their desktop counterparts come with 4 cores. They offer all the features the Core i3 offer in addition to having a larger cache memory, improved onboard graphics, and hyperthreading. A core i3 processor will comfortably meet the needs of any ordinary user with moderate-high demands.

Core i7

The Core i7 processor on the other hand has the largest volume of Cache, better onboard graphics, has two or eight cores (ultrabook and workstation respectively), and supports hyperthreading and virtualization.

Core i9

Core i9, on the other hand, is the latest entrant with the Intel® Core™ i9-12900K Processor with 16 Cores, and a total of 24 threads, and a massive 30Mb of Cache memory.

Source: https://ark.intel.com/#@PanelLabel122139

2. Intel Processor Generations

Every year or year and a half, Intel releases a new generation of processors. Each succeeding generation comes with improvements in either clock speed, power consumption, die area or some slight microarchitecture optimizations.

There are currently 13 Generations of desktop processors and 12 Generations of laptop processors, each with its own series of Core i3, i5, and i9 processors. The 9th Generation of processors, however, has only Core i5 and i7 processors.

These generations are:

  • Westmere microarchitecture (1st Generation)
  • Sandy Bridge (2nd Gen)
  • Ivy Bridge (3rd Gen)
  • Haswell (4th Gen)
  • Broadwell (5th Gen – For mobile processors only)
  • Sky Lake (6th Gen)
  • Kaby Lake (7th Gen)
  • Coffee Lake (8th Gen)
  • Cannon Lake (9th Gen- Currently for mobile processors only).
  • Comet Lake (10th Gen) Released on August 21, 2019
  • Rocket Lake-S (11th Gen) Released on March 16, 2021
  • Alder Lake (12th Gen) Released on November 4, 2021
  • Raptor Lake (13th Gen) released October 20, 2022

However, it’s not strange to find a processor or two from a previous generation outperforming one from a more recent generation. This is especially the case when you compare a top-of-the-line processor from one generation against mid-tier chips in the newer generation. That tells you that while going for a newer generation chip is advisable, it’s worth comparing it with older generation chips to find the chip that offers the best cost-to-performance ratio.

One way to determine how well a processor performs is by checking for processor benchmarks in sites like PassMark. Let’s have a look at an example of what we mentioned above regarding generations and performance.

13th Gen Intel Core Processor (Raptor Lake)

Advancing Performance Hybrid Architecture

13th Gen Intel® Core™ processors advance performance hybrid architecture1 with up to eight Performance-cores (P-core) and up to 16 Efficient-cores (E-core), combined with workloads intelligently routed by Intel® Thread

Built for Modern Gaming

Built for gamers looking for maximum performance to play the latest games, while also having the capabilities to tackle other workloads. New 13th Gen Intel® Core™ processor-based PCs make it all possible.

Superior Creating Experience

The 13th Gen Intel® Core™ processor family offers faster P-cores and more E-cores with support for DDR4/DDR5 and PCIe 4.0/5.0. That provides a platform that can max out multitasking and choice for reconfigurability.

Customize for What You Do Every Day

13th Gen Intel® Core™ processors deliver highly flexible architecture and industry-leading tools for the ultimate in performance customization.

General information
LaunchedOctober 20, 2022; 3 months ago[1][2]
Marketed byIntel
Designed byIntel
Common manufacturer(s)Intel
Performance
Max. CPU clock rateUp to 6.0 GHz (P-cores)Up to 4.3 GHz (E-cores)
Architecture and classification
Technology nodeIntel 7 (previously known as 10ESF)
Architecturex86-64
MicroarchitectureRaptor Cove (P-cores)
Gracemont (E-cores)
Instruction setx86-64
ExtensionsAES-NICLMULRDRANDSHATXTMMXSSESSE2SSE3SSSE3SSE4SSE4.1SSE4.2AVXAVX2FMA3AVX-VNNIVT-xVT-d
Physical specifications
CoresUp to 8 P-coresUp to 16 E-cores
Socket(s)LGA 1700
Products, models, variants
Product code name(s)RPL
Brand name(s)Intel CoreIntel Processor
History
PredecessorAlder Lake
SuccessorMeteor Lake
Support status
Supported

List of 13th-generation Raptor Lake processors

Desktop processors (Raptor Lake-S)

Common features of Raptor Lake desktop CPUs:

  • Socket: LGA 1700.
  • RAM support in actual computers varies depending on the motherboard and chipset
    • All CPUs support up to 128 GB of RAM and up to 192 GB of DDR5 on selected MSI motherboards[22]
    • All CPUs support up to DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800 in dual-channel mode
    • The i5-13600 K/KF and all higher tier CPUs also support DDR5-5200 and DDR5-5600
  • All CPUs support up to 20 (1×16+4 or 2×8+4) PCI Express lanes
  • Models without the F suffix feature either of the following integrated UHD Graphics GPUs, all with a base frequency of 300 MHz:
    • UHD Graphics 770 with 32 EUs,
    • UHD Graphics 730 with 24 EUs
  • Max Turbo Power: the maximum sustained (> 1 s) power dissipation of the processor as limited by current and/or temperature controls. Instantaneous power may exceed Maximum Turbo Power for short durations (≤ 10 ms). Maximum Turbo Power is configurable by the system vendor and can be system specific.
  • CPUs in bold below feature ECC memory support only when paired with a motherboard based on the W680 chipset.[23] Other SKUs do not support ECC memory at all.
Processor
branding
ModelCores
(threads)
Base
clock rate
(GHz)
Turbo
Boost
 2.0
(GHz)
Turbo
Max 3.0
(GHz)
GPUSmart
cache
PowerPrice
(USD)
PEPEPEPModelMax.
clock rate
(GHz)
BaseTurbo
Core i913900KS8 (16)16 (16)3.22.46.04.35.8UHD 7701.6536 MB150 W253 W$699
13900K3.02.05.85.7125 W$589
13900KF$564
139002.01.55.24.25.5UHD 7701.6565 W219 W$549
13900F$524
13900T1.10.85.13.95.3UHD 7701.6535 W106 W$549
Core i713790F[24][25]8 (8)5.133 MB65 WChina
exclusive
13700K3.42.55.44.25.4UHD 7701.630 MB125 W253 W$409
13700KF$384
137002.11.55.14.15.2UHD 7701.665 W219 W
13700F$359
13700T1.41.04.83.64.9UHD 7701.635 W106 W$384
Core i513600K6 (12)3.52.65.13.91.524 MB125 W181 W$319
13600KF$294
13600[a]2.72.05.03.7UHD 7701.5565 W154 W$255
13600T[a]1.81.34.83.435 W92 W
13500[a]2.51.83.565 W154 W$232
13500T[a]1.61.24.63.235 W92 W
13490F[24][25]4 (4)4.8China
exclusive
13400[a]2.51.84.63.3UHD 7301.5520 MB65 W154 W$221
13400F[a]65 W148 W$196
13400T[a]1.31.04.43.0UHD 7301.5535 W82 W$221
Core i313100[a]4 (8)3.44.51.512 MB60 W89 W$134
13100F[a]58 W$109
13100T[a]2.54.2UHD 7301.535 W69 W$134

Intel Processors naming convention

Now that we know about Generations and product lines, let’s find what those letters at the end of processor names mean and why it matters.

Source: https://www.intel.ca/content/www/ca/en/processors/processor-numbers.html

Take for instance this 8th Generation processor. Then after the Intel Core alludes to the fact that the processor comes with integrated graphics.

The first digit after the i7 brand modifier represents the generation of the processor, while the three other digits are the processor SKU number (the processor part number). At the end of the processor, the name is an alpha suffix letter that represents the processor line.

Source: https://www.intel.ca/content/www/ca/en/processors/processor-numbers.html

In this example, however, things are slightly different. The number after the i7 brand modifier shows that it’s a 7th Generation processor. The product line suffix comes next followed by the SKU number.

You can find out more about how Intel names its processors by visiting this site.

You can also compare Intel Processors, one against another by visiting their product page here. As a bonus just in case you were considering an AMD processor, you can compare one AMD processor against another by visiting their product page.

Just in case you need to compare an Intel processor and an AMD processor, you can do so by visiting CPUBoss.

Conclusion

Intel’s processor naming convention isn’t as friendly to its users as it ought to be ideal. Without a doubt, they need to find an easier and more accommodating method of naming to cater to the majority who don’t particularly care to know but wouldn’t mind knowing if it were a tad easier to do so. But all the same, we as users are not absolved from the necessity of knowing how they do it as long as we buy their products and want to get the best out of our money. If you’ve read this far, congratulations!! Welcome to the camp of the initiated.

Bio

Victor R currently covers tech news and gadgets at mogz.tech. Besides being an enthusiastic writer and published author, when not writing he spends his time building computers and practicing guitar.

Author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.