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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 17, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Intel’s brand overhaul: how to tell “good” from “better” PCs

Finally, Intel is clarifying the jumble of brands used for its PC processors. Sort of.

During the Windows Vista era, Intel’s brands became pretty confusing, forcing consumers to choose between “dual core” and “Core 2” processors, for instance.

Changes announced today will take effect in coming months and could make it easier by the time Windows 7 launches in October.

The biggest change is coming to the “Core” brand, which is going to come in three flavors: Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. Core i3 will signify entry-level systems, i5 to mid-range and i7 to high-end. (The current vPro tag used on business-oriented systems will still be added to i5 and i7 systems).

Intel’s Atom processor — the one designed for mobile devices and now used in all sorts of budget netbooks and some desktops — will keep the Atom name.

Also sticking around for a while is the last generation of Intel CPU names — Celeron and Pentium. They’ll be used on lowest-end systems, with Celeron designating the base models, Pentium a step up and Core (in its various flavors) “representing the best we have to offer,” Intel’s Bill Calder said in the blog.

Centrino — an Intel term referring to a set of components, including a CPU and wireless module — is being dropped from the PC lineup next year. But it will be used on WiMax products starting in 2010.

To simplfiy, here’s Intel’s new PC brand lineup, in order of good to best. (Insert Atom where you like — it’s relatively wimpy, but very power efficient …):

Celeron

Pentium

Core i3

Core i5

Core i7

(Microsoft has said Windows 7 runs even on Atom processors, but my guess is that the message this fall will be that you’ll want a Core system to get the best experience.)

Comments | Topics: celeron, core, intel

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