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Techies Balk At New Intel Chip Names

Vendor said yesterday that it would be simplifying its chips' names for consumers. But the public is wondering just how this idea simplifies anything.

Yesterday, Intel said it would ease the clutter of marketing names for consumers -- Core 2 Duo vs. Core 2 Quad, etc. In their place will be modifiers that more easily roll off simplified terminology: the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. Each is supposed to signal different features and benefits. So, upcoming processors such as Lynnfield (desktop) will carry the Intel Core brand but will be available as either Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 depending upon the feature set and capability. Clarksfield (mobile) will have the Intel Core i7 name.

Pretty simple. But not really very informative, according to visitors to the Intel Blog. Responding to the post by Corporate Communications Director Bill Calder, many long for the times when product names were indicators of specific chip information. For example, "286," "386 vs. 386 DX" and "486" told users at a glance what they were (or were not buying). Looking back, Intel's legacy of confusing monikers may have started when it renamed the 386 the 386 DX, ironically to avoid the confusion that would ultimately ensue.

As one post put it: "Please bring back clock speeds. I realize that the clock speed often decreases when you make an architectural change. But using the current scheme, I have to figure out which model I'm looking at, then go to wikipedia and try to map that model to a clock speed and bus speed. It's hard enough on Apple's site, where they tell you [that] you will get a Xeon 5500 series processor (for example). But try going to Dell's site, where you may have 15 processor options, with each workstation option listed by some variant of an Intel model number. Or try to figure out what a Core 960 really is."

It seems the marketing minds at Intel think that people can keep names and configurations straight when chips are referred to by names such as the Atom, Celeron, Pentium and Core. However, giving a numerical clue in the name regarding speed or other characteristics -- which would logically be notated with numbers -- is too confusing. The question is, for whom is this easier -- marketing folks or buyers?

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