Intel i-Infinity

Intel's new, mainstream processor will be released soon. It's called the Core i5. After the silly Core, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad naming scheme, Intel settled for the Core in strategy -- where n is a number.

Of course, this hasn't really made things simple. The chaos is just a bit more elegant. We already have the Core i7, Core i5 will be out shortly and then in a few months, we'll get the Core i3 and the Core i9. Intel has added further convolution by:

  1. Using two different sockets across these four lines. So, if you buy a Core i5 this year, and later you'd like to upgrade only your processor to a Core i9 (a six-core beast due in 2010), then you're out of luck. You have to upgrade your motherboard to get a different socket which will accept a Core i9.
  2. Using the 45-nm process today and then later switching to the 32-nm process. Now, this would be great if we could actually tell the difference between the two by just the name of the processor but, as far as I can tell, we can't.

I once upgraded my processor. So, I certainly do not like having this option being made more difficult and expensive. And I clearly remember in early 2008 when new 45-nm Core 2 Duos sat next to the older 65-nm Core 2 Duos. The pricing of such processors made sense from the cost-side but not from the performance-side. You see, Intel was selling older ~$300 processors that were slower than their ~$250 newer processors.

Now, a logical customer would see that those two processors have the same name and conclude that the more expensive one ought to be faster. But, no. It looks like we'll see a similar scenario next year.



I just bought a used tablet computer on ebay. The processor in it is adequate (a 1.6 ghz core duo), but I am wondering if it would be possible to crack open the machine and upgrade that.

Mike T

I personally wish that by 2010 we'd see a major growth in Arm CPUs. I'd rather have a dual processor (each with 8 cores), massively multithreaded Mac laptop than a x86 laptop :)


Alpha: Most of the time it's not worth bothering with. Some laptops have soldered-in CPU's. Others are extremely difficult to access. On some the BIOS may barf if you change the CPU. It all depends on the make and model, and, even in the best case scenario, how much of an improvement are you going to get? Most of the time you're better off with more RAM rather than a faster CPU.

Isaac: The marketing makes sense from a certain perspective. As you said, most customers would expect the faster processor one to be more expensive. Somehow I don't think Intel minds those misconceptions.

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