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Intel Core CPU Brand Shakeup: Say Bye To The ‘i’ And Hi To ‘Ultra’

Dylan Martin

For future releases, the chipmaker is getting rid of the ‘i’ in its Intel Core i5, i7 and i9 processor brands while adding the ‘Ultra’ name to its ‘most advanced’ CPUs for PCs and laptops. Intel will also start doling out Intel vPro Enterprise and Intel vPro Essentials badges for commercial systems.

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Intel is shaking up its Core CPU brand and making what it’s calling the “biggest” changes yet since the name was introduced to the PC market 15 years ago.

The changes, announced Thursday, will begin with the next generation of Intel Core CPUs, code-named Meteor Lake. They include the removal of the “i” from processor tiers such as Intel Core i7 or Intel Core i5, the removal of the generation in front of the brand (like 13th-Gen Intel Core), and the introduction of the “Intel Core Ultra” name for its “most advanced” processors.

[Related: Apple ‘Completes’ Transition From Intel With M2 Ultra-Based Mac Pro, Exec Says]

The company also announced that it has evolved the brand for its Intel Evo premium laptop program and will now label Evo-verified designs with “Intel Evo Edition.” In addition, Intel plans to dole out new Intel vPro labels for commercial systems using vPro processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said it’s making the changes to help customers better “identify the right client solutions from Intel’s industry-leading partner ecosystem for their compute needs.”

“Our client road map demonstrates how Intel is prioritizing innovation and technology leadership with products like Meteor Lake, focused on power efficiency and AI at scale,” said Caitlin Anderson, vice president and general manager of Client Computing Group Sales at Intel, in a statement.

“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 offering,” she added.

What Will The Intel Core Brand Changes Look Like?

With Intel planning to get rid of the “i” from processor tiers for future releases, partners will no longer see processor names like Intel Core i7 or Intel Core i3 and instead see Intel Core 7 and Intel Core 3.

The company is also moving the processor’s numbering after the word “processor” in names for individual CPUs. This means that instead of having a name like “Intel Core i7-1260P processor”, it will be “Intel Core 7 processor,” followed by the numbering.

Intel said it has yet to determine how the final numbering for each processor will look, but it did say that the numbering will continue to denote the generation of the processor.

However, Intel said, it will no longer note the processor generation in front of the CPU brand. This means the company will not say, for instance, “14th-Gen Intel Core processor” in any marketing materials for the next generation of CPUs. Thus, the processor’s generation will only be determined from its numbering.

One of the other major changes to Intel’s 15-year-old client CPU brand is the introduction of the “Intel Core Ultra” name for what it’s calling the “most advanced client processors.”

The company said it will use the Intel Core Ultra name to highlight processors with a “significant shift in architecture and design” and to differentiate those CPUs from “mainstream” offerings.

Intel plans to apply the Intel Core Ultra name to processors across different tiers.

For instance, this means there will be an Intel Core Ultra 5 processor, an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor and an Intel Core Ultra 9 processor, according to the company. These chips will exist in addition to standard Intel Core 5, Intel Core 7 and Intel Core 9 processors in future generations.

An executive at Intel distribution partner ASI in Fremont, Calif. said he finds it helpful that Intel will identify premium processors with the Intel Core Ultra brand, which he found reminiscent of Intel’s Extreme processors, like the Core 2 Extreme, from the early 2000s.

“I like the idea of using Ultra and expanding it to the entire family of processors, so you’ll know within each class—5, 7, 9—which ones are the premium within that class of processor,” said Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI.

When Will Intel Start Using The New Core Branding?

Intel has previously said that it plans to launch the upcoming Meteor Lake client processors in the second half of this year, which means the new branding will appear then.

Echoing previous teases for Meteor Lake, the company on Thursday said the next-generation processor family will represent an “inflection point” in its client CPU road map.

There are multiple reasons Intel believes the upcoming processor generation is a big deal: Meteor Lake will be the first client CPU manufactured on its Intel 4 process node. It will be the first client design using chiplets enabled by Intel’s Foveros advanced 3-D packaging technology.

The CPU will also “deliver improved power efficiency and graphics performance,” Intel said. And, for the first time, it will feature a dedicated AI engine the company is calling “Intel AI Boost.”

Tibbils said channel partners will likely want to know how Intel plans to educate the market on the Intel Core brand changes coming with the Meteor Lake processors.

“I would imagine that would probably be their biggest question: ‘How are you going to make sure that everybody is up to date on what this is?’” he said.

How The Intel Evo And Intel vPro Brands Are Changing

Meteor Lake will also usher changes for the Intel Evo and Intel vPro brands.

Intel debuted the Intel Evo brand in 2021 to denote premium laptops that have passed verification tests for several key experience indicators such as 9.5 hours or more of real-world battery life, wake from sleep in less than 1 second, fast-charging capabilities and biometric login capabilities. The brand grew from premium laptop verification efforts that Intel first detailed in 2019.

Until the Intel Evo change is instated later this year, laptops in the Intel Evo program carry an Intel Evo badge. With the change, Intel is changing that label to “Intel Evo Edition.”

There are also label changes coming for Intel vPro, the company’s platform for commercial processors with extra security and management features.

These changes will result in new “Intel vPro Enterprise” and “Intel vPro Essentials” badges for commercial desktop PCs and laptops.

These labels represent the changes introduced last year to the Intel vPro platform, which saw standard, enterprise-grade processors gaining the Intel vPro Enterprise name and the introduction of commercial processors with fewer features for small and medium-sized businesses called Intel vPro Essentials.

Intel also plans to debut an “Intel vPro Evo Edition” label that indicates commercial laptops with vPro processors that have been verified under the Intel Evo program.

Tibbils said the new Intel vPro labels will be helpful, because when Intel moved to bifurcate the vPro CPUs into enterprise and SMB segments last year, there was some confusion over which systems supported the new SMB-focused vPro Essentials processors.

“They came out with vPro Essentials, and it was really hard to identify what that was, which products supported it and which ones didn’t, so I think this will make that a lot easier as well,” he said.

Learn More: CPUs-GPUs
Dylan Martin

Dylan Martin is a senior editor at CRN covering the semiconductor, PC, mobile device, and IoT beats. He has distinguished his coverage of the semiconductor industry thanks to insightful interviews with CEOs and top executives; scoops and exclusives about product, strategy and personnel changes; and analyses that dig into the why behind the news.   He can be reached at dmartin@thechannelcompany.com.

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