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Intel Details CPU Naming Plans

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Intel may want to convince us it's simplified things with its new naming structure, but I'm not so sure. Sure, consumers buying a PC in a shop may not have issues, but anyone building a system themselves is going to need to be that bit more vigilant when picking components.

In short, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad will be phased out in favour of Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 both for desktop and mobile once Lynnfield arrives on the desktop. However, despite what we had thought, Lynnfield won't be synonymous with Core i5, but will in fact span the two brands, with the identifiers representing "feature set and capability."

Ostensibly that's fine, Core i3 represents low-end, Core i5 mid-range and Core i7 high-end CPUs. However, buying a CPU it will be possible to fond Core i7 chips on both LGA1366 (such as the current i7 965) and LGA1156. You're going to want to look carefully at the box, therefore, to ensure the CPU you're buying is pin compatible with the motherboard you're planning to plug it into.

More annoyingly Intel isn't - currently - saying what features will differentiate Core i5 and Core i7 Lynnfield CPUs. For all we know it could be dropping technologies such as HyperThreading and Virtualisation, or differentiating between CPUs with integrated graphics and those without. We'll just have to wait and see.

Luckily in the mobile space there's less confusion, with only Core i7 CPUs to worry about. Lower down the spectrum Intel Atom will remain as it is, for netbooks, nettops and similar systems. Pentium will denote CPUs for "basic computing" and Celeron will represent "entry-level" products. Intel suggests thinking of Celeron, Pentium, Core ix as a good, better, best structure which seems fair enough.

Centrino's role will change from next year and will denote Wi-Fi and WiMAX products, which is good, in that Centrino as a brand carries a lot of weight and bad, in that it could cause some confusion for anyone stuck in the mindset that Centrino represents a platform of a CPU, motherboard and wireless. Intel vPro will see a minor change, with CPUs coming under the guise of either Core i5 vPro or Core i7 vPro.

Exciting stuff, no?

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Intel.

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