Hey man! what’s up?
Life is hard and what makes it even harder is our very beloved silicon chip manufacturer, Intel. Intel like any other conventional company has a wide line-up of brands of processors to choose from. To name a few we have Intel Core, Intel Atom, Intel Celeron and Intel Xeon.
But what Intel does to make itself outrageously stand apart is to create sub-brands and even more divisions within those sub-brands. I admit that the previous sentence that I wrote is quite confusing in itself. But that’s how Intel has planned things for us. It makes an average consumer like me go haywire. But after considerably thorough efforts I have demystified intel’s cyphers. So, if you are planning to buy a new laptop or looking forward to building a gaming PC or just want to tinker around with your 5-year-old Desktop, this blog post is all you need.
Intel Core is the most commonly used line up of processors. There’s a high probability that your PC runs on an Intel Core processor. Intel markets its Core CPUs as the mid- to the high-end line up of processors. The entry of Intel Core processors bumped down the pre-existing Pentium processors to the entry level and the Celeron series to the lower end.
All these line-ups of processors further offer myriad categories to choose from. But I will mainly be talking about the Intel Core line-up as it is the most sought-after.
I3, i5, i7 and i9 are the Brand Modifiers.
In simple words, Intel categorizes its Core processors into i3, i5,i7 and i9 according to their processing powers and performance. In relative terms i9 has greater processing power than i7, i7 is better than i5 and the i5 is better than the i3. But the processing powers of these processors depend on a bunch of different factors like the number of cores, clock speed, cache memory and some Intel specific technologies like turbo boost and hyperthreading. It is important for you to take in count the cumulative effect that all these factors have on the CPU’S performance.
Before moving further let me explain you some of these factors:
A processor core in simple words is an individual hardware unit. A dual-core processor means that the CPU consists of two separate hardware units integrated onto a single chip. They share the system’s memory (RAM) and can cooperate on the same program. Programs can migrate from one unit to another. Therefore, a single processor can run multiple instructions on separate cores at the same time. Some cores are power efficient while some carry out extensive tasks.
All in all a balance is maintained. So more the number of cores a processor has the more is its processing power.
But there is a common myth which a lot of people share that the processing power of a CPU depends only on the number of cores it has. It’s not true. Here is where the other factors come into play. For example, A dual-core i7 processor is still better than a quad-core i3 processor as it is equipped with greater clock speed and has Intel’s hyperthreading technology which cumulatively beat the four core i3 processor.
So, I say it once again that it is important for you to take in count the cumulative effect that all these factors have on the CPU’S performance.
A clock pulse controls your processor’s activity. It determines that at what times and for how long your processor will operate. It is measured in Hertz. More the frequency with which a processor works the higher is its performance. Processors with high processing powers consume more power. You can overclock or underclock some of the processors according to your needs.
Any operation that a processor performs requires some memory to be executed. We have some gigabytes of RAM in our computing systems to serve this purpose. But to reduce the processing time and make a processor faster a high-speed memory called CPU cache is introduced.
Cache is faster than RAM or any other sort of memory because it is physically close to the processor core. Some amount of cache is assigned to each core of the processor. A processor uses its cache to store some frequent results. Cache ranges from 1MB to about 6MB or a bit higher. Higher the amount of cache faster is the processor.
Hyper-Threading is Intel’s proprietary technology based on a concept called multi-threading. What happens is that your processor divides an operation into a number of processes called threads. It then processes these threads concurrently i.e. in a parallel fashion. Executing an operation in such a way naturally takes less time and increases the speed of your processor.
As you already know that you can over or underclock a capable processor manually according to your requirements. With Intel’s Turbo-Boost technology whenever required, a CPU can dynamically overclock or underclock itself to increase or decrease its speed. It depends on the number of active cores, power consumption and the current temperature of the processor. Turbo-Boost not only boasts a processor’s performance but also increases its efficiency.
The 1st digit after the brand specifier (here i5) represents the generation.
With new technological advancements every now and then it is necessary for silicon chip manufacturers to upgrade their processors. A processor’s performance and power efficiency get improved with every generation. New generations of processors are built on updated microprocessor architecture. Generally, newer generations have more cache, have better-integrated graphics and are more power efficient.
The number of cores was increased for the first time when coffee lake processors were announced. But wait, what is a coffee lake? Intel has named each generation of Intel Core processors which it has announced till date:
- 1st generation – Nehalem
- 2nd generation – Sandy Bridge
- 3rd generation – Ivy Bridge
- 4th generation – Haswell
- 5th generation – Broadwell
- 6th generation – Sky Lake
- 7th generation – Kaby Lake
- 8th generation – Coffee Lake
- 9th generation – Cannon Lake
- 10th generation – Ice Lake
Those random digits which appear after the first digit (which represents the generation) are the SKU digits. SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit. Intel uses these digits to uniquely identify its products. Apart from uniquely identifying the product they also represent the performance of the processor. Higher the number greater is the performance.
Processor Line Suffix
The letter (or two letters) at the end of the whole array of digits is the processor line suffix. This ignored letter holds some very important specifications about your processor. Each letter has a different meaning. Some of these letters are also specific to only some generations.
I’ll be writing about some of the most common letters that you’ll encounter
- K – It means that the CPU is unlocked and can be overclocked. An overclocked processor can be used for intensive tasks at the cost of power consumption and heat generation.
- G – The CPU has advanced graphics than what Intel offers otherwise. These graphics (for now) are provided by Radeon’s Vega M GPUs.
- U – It signifies that the CPU has ultra-low power consumption. These types of processors are (reserved for laptops) optimized to give your laptop the best battery life that they can offer. But their performance is not so good as compared to others.
- H – The CPUs with processor line suffix ‘H’ have high-performance graphics. These graphics are provided by Intel’s very own integrated chips. But they are not more powerful than the ‘G’ designated 8th generation processors.
- HK – These letters mean that the CPU has high-performance graphics and can also be overclocked.
- HQ – These letters mean that the CPU is quadcore and has high-performance graphics.
- T – These CPUs are also optimized for power efficiency. But they consume more power than the ‘U’ designated processors.
- Y – These CPUs are the most power efficient and have the worst performance. Only slim and lightweight laptops run on such processors.
- F – Integrated graphics are not available.