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What is Intel 4? Meteor Lake’s technology explained

There’s a lot of complicated jargon to contend with when picking a processor, to such an extent that it can become a little intimidating to first-time PC builders or laptop buyers. 

Intel 4 is one of these terms, and yet is a major reason why so many people are excited for the upcoming Meteor Lake series, which will debut as a laptop chip family in 2023, and as a desktop processor series later on in 2024. 

But what exactly is Intel 4? And how will it make a difference compared to the current crop of Intel Core chips? We’ve created this guide to explain everything you need to know. 

What is Intel 4?

Intel 4 is a marketing term that Intel uses to reference its 7nm (nanometer) process technology. 

While the likes of AMD and Apple simply use the measurements of individual transistors when describing the process technology of a processor (e.g. 5nm), Intel has instead adopted a new marketing strategy to refer to such technology. 

For example, the current process technology that Intel uses in its 13th Generation lineup is based on 10nm, but is referred to as Intel 7 instead. The number “7” doesn’t actually represent anything specific, other than the fact Intel believes this process node is competitive with rival chips with a 7nm process. 

You could argue that this is purposefully misleading, but Intel does have a point in that size of the process technology isn’t always indicative of a chip’s performance – the new Intel Core i9-14900K chips uses a 10nm process, yet offers a better single-core performance than the Ryzen 9 7950X with a 5nm process. 

Intel 4 will mark the first time Intel has switched to a smaller process technology for the mainline Intel Core series since 2019. The new technology will first be used for laptop processors from December 2023. Intel says the first Intel desktop chip using Intel 4 should launch in 2024. 

Intel has claimed that Intel 4 will allow for a 20% increase clock speed over Intel 7 when using the same power budget. As a result, we’re hoping for a big performance increase when Intel finally does move onto its next generation of laptop processors. 

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