Intel CPU Naming Explained: How Are Intel Processors Named and What Are Their Capabilities
There was a time, not so long ago, that it was easy to figure out how good a computer's processor (CPU) was just by looking at the megahertz number. A 200 megahertz processor was less powerful than a 400 megahertz processor. A pentium 4 was better than a pentium 3 with the same speed rating. All of this changed when in 2004 Intel changed the way it labeled its chips. The new naming system has been much less intuitive for the lay person to understand and make objective buying decisions with. This article will attempt to cut through the geek speak to explain what the inherant value is in each of the various models.
Intel Processor Family Names
In order from oldest to newest these are some of the most recent Intel processor families:PentiumCeleronCentrinoCore Duo (32 bit)Core 2 Duo (64 bit)Core 2 Quad (64 bit)
Within each of these processor families there are a great number of variables, only one of which is the clock speed of the chip. The secret issue is that in many cases (since the advent of the new naming system) the same exact chip may be sold with a different model and speed rating based on how it tests out during manufacture.
Same Chip, Different Clock Speed
As an example of this, in a lot of 100 new CPU's, 50 of them may test out perfectly and be able to perform at the highest rated clock speed. They will be so labeled and sold at a premium price. Others in the same batch may fail to perform at the highest speeds and will be altered to lock them down to slighly slower speeds and sold under a different model name and clock speed designation.
Because of this fact the actual clock speed of a chip is no longer the only guiding principal in building a new high power computer system, just as important is the architecture and abilities of the chip. The model number that accompanies the family name in a chip's designation can also not be trusted to be numerically representative of the abilities of the chip. A processor with a higher number is not necessarily better than a chip with a lower number.
The best way to find out what the capabilities of a specific CPU are is to visit the Intel Processor Number page on the Intel web site. Here a user will find a comprehensive list of every CPU manufactured and its capabilities. Using this guide and a little common sense a person can quickly determine what processor is the best deal when purchasing a new computer.
Author: Chad Criswell