3 min

Intel is going to change the naming of its consumer chips. The reason it provides for timing the rebrand in line with the launch of Meteor Lake: an array of new technologies, including the first dedicated AI engine on an Intel consumer chip.

Intel VP and general manager at Client Computing Group Sales Caitlin Anderson summarized the announcement as follows. “Our client roadmap demonstrates how Intel is prioritizing innovation and technology leadership with products like Meteor Lake, focused on power efficiency and AI at scale. To better align with our product strategies, we are introducing a branding structure that will help PC buyers better differentiate the best of our latest technology and our mainstream offerings.”

Intel cites that Meteor Lake will be the first generation on the Intel 4 manufacturing node. It will introduce time 3D packaging on an Intel consumer chip for the first time. This is something AMD had already ventured to do with certain Ryzen chips. It did so by placing cache on top of other components (3D-Vcache). However, even though Intel only mentions AI after that, that is explicitly a big step in consumer chip development. With an AI-supported Windows emerging, it seems that Intel wants to get integrated AI acceleration ready ahead of time.

Getting rid of the i

For those referring to Intel chips regularly, the rebrand will take some getting used to: the “i” in front of the number denoting the specific product is disappearing. Where, for example, “the Intel i5” was popularly known as a midrange chip, on will now habitually start referring to it as an “Intel 5.” In addition, mainstream and performance chips are now distinguished between the “Core” and “Core Ultra” product lines. There will be a Core 3, 5 and 7, while Intel is also offering a Core Ultra 5, 7 and 9 for challenging workloads such as programming, graphic design or gaming.

At the time of writing, is not yet entirely clear how it will characterize generations. The number+letter scheme at the end of each SKU will keep the same format as before. An example of this is, for example, the Core i5 13400F that is currently still being sold. 13 refers to the generation, 400 refers to the position the chip has within the product stack and the letter at the end gives some additional info. In this example, the F means that the chip is intended for desktops and does not offer integrated graphics.

What is unclear, however, is whether Intel is resetting the generation number. Meteor Lake would have been the 14th generation, but recently a Twitter account known as BenchLeaks noted that there was a test involving an Intel Core 5 “1003H,” indicating a reset of the generational numbering scheme.

Either way, it’s not surprising that Intel is pushing the generations back a bit. Ever since the 10th generation of Intel Core processors, an undesirably convoluted naming scheme has been apparent. Consider, for example, the various products 10700, 10750H, 10850K, 10875H and 10900. These are all pretty significantly different products, some desktop SKUs and others intended for laptops, despite their similar names.

Borrowing from styling

Before the familiar Core i-naming emerged, the Pentium trademark became famous the world over. However, where the name long implied that it was often the most potent offering Intel had in its product line, since the Core i3/i5/i7/i9 styling it has been relegated to a budget SKU. Anyone buying an Intel Pentium laptop in 2022 probably wasn’t expecting lightning-fast performance. Late last year, it was announced that Pentium was ceasing to exist, as was Celeron.

The striking thing is that Intel has moved closer to the styling of AMD’s Ryzen offerings. Intel’s major competitor switched to the Ryzen 3/5/7/9 naming scheme in 2017, complete with four digits and a generation number upfront. It was clearly conceived in the Intel tradition. Now, Intel is doing the same thing AMD did back then.

Branding for enterprise

Not only Intel’s regular chips are getting a rebrand. Similarly, it is coming out with vPro Enterprise and vPro Essentials to label devices made for commercial systems. These are likely to become mainstay offerings in the product stack that larger organisations are looking for.