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Intel tears up CPU branding scheme

Centrino to move from laptops to Wi-Fi chips

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Intel is to ditch its Core 2 and Core 4 brands, along with their Solo, Duo and Quad sub-brands in favour of, simply, Core.

Well, sort of. Intel's plans aren't quite that clear cut. Rather than nuke and pave, Intel is rolling out the new brand pland as it rolls out new products, while clearing out the old brands through natural wastage.

Still, it's about time Intel tackled its profusion of brands, and yesterday it pledged to "clear away the confusion of evaluating and comparing different processor brands" by stating that this "mind-boggling array of derivatives" will "go away... over time".

Confirming the existence of not only Core i5 but also Core i3 parts, Intel said these two lines would join Core i7 to form the basis for its desktop and mobile product branding.

"Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i3 processors will launch in the coming months," it added.

Intel will still offer Pentium - which stands for the values "dependable and proven" - and Celeron processors - "value and reliability" - even though these lines are arguably interchangeable. Atom will remain is brand for netbooks, internet-centric desktops and mobile internet tablets.

The Centrino, reported by many websites to be for the chop, will actually next year become the brandname for the chip giant's wireless products.

The vPro moniker will be extended to Core i3, i5 and i7 to mark out systems' business friendliness. Since vPro technology is as much a part of the chipset as the CPU, Core i5 vPro machines, for example, will have to be Intel through and through.

Intel's intention is that punters will choose products according to model number, using the rule that i7 is better than i5 is better than i3, and that, say, the 975 is better than the 920. Essentially, i3 means entry-level, i5 mid-range and i7 high-end.

It's not clear whether the Extreme suffix will stay or go. Given those chips' higher model numbers, the word's unnecessary.

Intel star ratings

Clear enough, for you?

Just in case you still don't get it, Intel said it will apply a star-rating to each CPU's logo:

"Each processor is assigned between one and five stars depending on a combination of features, including cores, clock frequency, cache and other technologies. More stars indicate greater features and increased capabilities compared to other Intel processors."

Today's Core i7s, for example, get - surprise, surprise - five stars. Core 2 Quads and Core 2 Duos get three or four stars, depending on model. Pentiums get two stars, and Celerons get one. Essentially, the rating scheme is there to re-inforce the model numbers. ®

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