Intel has been using the Core i branding for its processors since 2008, when it introduced the first Core i7 chips based on the Nehalem architecture. Since then, the Core i family has expanded to include Core i3, Core i5, and Core i9 models, covering a wide range of performance and price segments. However, Intel is reportedly planning to drop the Core i name with its upcoming 14th generation of CPUs, codenamed Meteor Lake.
According to several sources, including Intel's global communications director Bernard Fernandes , the company is preparing to rebrand its client chips as Core Ultra, starting with Meteor Lake. This strategic move is said to align with Intel's readiness to roll out its next-gen CPUs, potentially marking a significant shift in consumer hardware.
Yes, we are making brand changes as we're at an inflection point in our client roadmap in preparation for the upcoming launch of our #MeteorLake processors. We will provide more details regarding these exciting changes in the coming weeks! #Intel
— Bernard Fernandes (@Bernard_P) May 1, 2023
Meteor Lake is expected to launch in the second half of 2023 and will feature a new tiled architecture that combines different types of cores on a single chip. The CPU tile will consist of Redwood Cove P-cores and Crestmont E-cores, which are designed to offer higher performance and efficiency respectively. The GPU tile will feature Intel's Xe-MTL graphics with up to 192 execution units. The SOC tile will integrate various components such as memory controllers, PCIe lanes, and Thunderbolt ports. The IO tile will handle communication between the tiles and other devices.
Meteor Lake will also be the first Intel CPU to use a mix of different process nodes from different foundries. The CPU tile will be fabricated on Intel's own 4nm node, while the GPU tile will be made by TSMC on an undisclosed node. The SOC and IO tiles will use older nodes from Intel or external partners.
One of the reasons for the rebranding could be to differentiate Meteor Lake from its predecessors and competitors, as well as to highlight its new features and capabilities. The Core Ultra name suggests a focus on performance and power efficiency, as well as a premium positioning in the market. However, it is unclear how Intel will categorize its Core Ultra CPUs in terms of cores, threads, frequencies, and prices. For example, a leaked benchmark result shows a Core Ultra 5 1003H CPU with 18 cores and 18 threads running at 2.1 GHz . How does this compare to a Core i5 or a Core i7 CPU? Will there be other classes besides Core Ultra, such as Core Pro or Core Max?
Intel has not officially confirmed the details of its new branding scheme yet, but it has promised to provide more information in the coming weeks. Until then, we can only speculate on what Intel has in store for us with Meteor Lake and beyond.
A Brief History of the Intel Core i CPUs
Intel Core i CPUs are a family of high-performance processors that have been powering desktops and laptops since 2006. They are the successors of the Intel Pentium and Celeron processors, and offer more features, speed, and efficiency than their predecessors.
The Intel Core i CPUs can be divided into several generations, each based on a different microarchitecture and fabrication process. The first generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Nehalem, was launched in 2008 and used a 45 nm process. It introduced features such as Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, and an integrated memory controller. The second generation, codenamed Sandy Bridge, was launched in 2011 and used a 32 nm process. It improved the performance and graphics capabilities of the CPUs, and added features such as Quick Sync Video and Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). The third generation, codenamed Ivy Bridge, was launched in 2012 and used a 22 nm process with 3D tri-gate transistors. It increased the energy efficiency and graphics performance of the CPUs, and added features such as PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0 support.
Haswell, Broadwell and Skylake (2013-2015)
The fourth generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Haswell, was launched in 2013 and used a 22 nm process with improved tri-gate transistors. It enhanced the performance and power efficiency of the CPUs, and added features such as Iris Pro Graphics, AVX2, and Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX). The fifth generation, codenamed Broadwell, was launched in 2014 and used a 14 nm process with FinFET transistors. It further improved the energy efficiency and graphics performance of the CPUs, and added features such as eDRAM cache and Intel RealSense technology. The sixth generation, codenamed Skylake, was launched in 2015 and used a 14 nm process with optimized FinFET transistors. It increased the performance and security of the CPUs, and added features such as DDR4 memory support, Thunderbolt 3 support, and Intel Optane technology.
Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake (2016-2017)
The seventh generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Kaby Lake, was launched in 2016 and used a 14 nm process with enhanced FinFET transistors. It boosted the performance and graphics capabilities of the CPUs, and added features such as native 4K video support, HEVC encoding/decoding, and Speed Shift technology. The eighth generation, codenamed Coffee Lake, was launched in 2017 and used a 14 nm process with refined FinFET transistors. It increased the core counts across the desktop lineup of processors for the first time in the ten-year history of Intel Core processors, a significant driver of improved performance versus previous generations despite similar per-clock performance. It also improved the graphics performance and overclocking potential of the CPUs.
Coffee Lake Refresh and Comet Lake (2018-2020)
The ninth generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Coffee Lake Refresh, was launched in 2018 and used a 14 nm process with further refined FinFET transistors. It increased the core counts for some models of processors, such as the Core i9-9900K with eight cores and sixteen threads. It also enhanced the performance and security of the CPUs, and added features such as solder thermal interface material (STIM) for better heat dissipation. The tenth generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Comet Lake, was launched in 2020 and used a 14 nm process with matured FinFET transistors. It increased the core counts for some models of processors, such as the Core i9-10900K with ten cores and twenty threads. It also improved the performance and connectivity of the CPUs, and added features such as Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) for higher clock speeds.
Rocket Lake (2021)
The eleventh generation of Core i CPUs, codenamed Rocket Lake, was launched in 2021 and used a 14 nm process with backported Cypress Cove cores from Ice Lake's Sunny Cove microarchitecture. It increased the IPC (instructions per cycle) by up to 19% compared to Comet Lake, but reduced the core counts for some models of processors due to power and thermal constraints. It also enhanced the performance and graphics capabilities of the CPUs, and added features such as PCIe 4.0 support,