Lines and markings of modern Intel processors

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September 8, 2016
11 minutes

By Jonny Gamer

When choosing a processor from Intel, the question arises: which chip from this corporation to choose? Processors have many characteristics and parameters that affect their performance. And in accordance with it and some features of the microarchitecture, the manufacturer gives the appropriate name. Our task is to highlight this issue. In this article, you will learn what exactly the names of Intel processors mean, as well as learn about the microarchitecture of chips from this company.


It should be noted in advance that solutions earlier than 2012 will not be considered here, since technologies are advancing at a fast pace and these chips have too low performance with high power consumption, and it is also difficult to buy them in a new state. Also, server solutions will not be considered here, since they have a specific scope and are not intended for the consumer market.

Caution The nomenclature below may not be valid for processors older than the above period.

Also, if you have any difficulties, you can visit the Intel website. And read this article, which tells about the technologies used in modern Intel processors.

Tick ​​tock

Intel has a special strategy for the release of its “stones, called Tick-Tock (Tick-Tock). It consists of annual incremental improvements.

  • Tick ​​means a change in microarchitecture, which leads to a change in socket, better performance and optimization of power consumption.
  • This means a decrease in the production process, which leads to a decrease in power consumption, the possibility of placing more transistors on a chip, a possible increase in frequencies and an increase in cost.

This is how this strategy looks for desktop and laptop models:


NehalemSo200945 nm
WestmereTeak201032 nm
Sandy bridgeSo201132 nm
Ivy bridgeTeak201222 nm
HaswellSo201322 nm
BroadwellTeak201414 nm
SkylakeSo201514 nm
Kaby lakeSo +201614 nm

But for low-power solutions (smartphones, tablets, netbooks, nettops), the platforms look like this:


Netbooks / Nettops / LaptopsBraswellAirmont14 nm
 Bay Trail-D / MSilvermont22 nm
Top tabletsWillow trailGoldmont14 nm
 Cherry trailAirmont14 nm
 Bay Tral-TSilvermont22 nm
 Clower trailSatwell32 nm
Top / mid-range smartphones / tabletsMorganfieldGoldmont14 nm
 MoorefieldSilvermont22 nm
 MerrifieldSilvermont22 nm
 Clower Trail +Satwell32 nm
 MedfieldSatwell32 nm
Medium / budget smartphones / tabletsBinghamtonAirmont14 nm
 RivertonAirmont14 nm
 SlaytonSilvermont22 nm

It should be noted that Bay Trail-D is made for desktops: Pentium and Celeron with index J. And Bay Trail-M for this mobile solution and will also be designated among Pentium and Celeron by its letter N.

Judging by the latest trends of the company, the performance itself is progressing rather slowly, while energy efficiency (performance per unit of energy consumed) is growing from year to year, and even soon, laptops will have the same powerful processors as on large PCs (although such representatives there is now).

Tick-Tock-Tock +

With the 7th generation of Kaby Lake, the company is moving to the Tick-Tock-Tock + strategy. The thing is that the miniaturization of the technical process for two years is now very difficult in technical terms. So + will have a well-developed So architecture on the current process technology, which may allow increasing clock speeds.

Main rulers


Intel initially missed the moment of widespread adoption of ARM processor architecture in mobile devices. Those less warmed up and pitied the battery of the first smartphones. In 2012, Intel, as part of the earlier line for netbooks and entry-level notebooks Atom, introduced its models for communicators in the form of SoC (system on a chip). They are marked with the letters Z and C. The old line has migrated to the Celeron and Pentium series.

If there is a combination of x3-C, then it means a series of low-cost processors of the SoFIA family, manufactured according to the 28 nm process technology. RK means the model was created in collaboration with Rockchip.

If the first letter is E, it means that the chip is intended for embedded systems.

The letter S or C stands for server solutions.

The letter Z stands for the vast majority of chips for portable devices (TDP < 4 watts). But besides her, there are other letter indices in the name, and this is what they mean:

  • D chips with a single-channel memory controller and for a lower display resolution (they are weaker than the corresponding models without this letter)
  • E, unlike D, has a single-channel 32-bit memory controller (weaker than D)
  • F differs from D in that it is created for a different BGA version (different socket).
  • G, unlike F, works with a 32-bit single-channel memory controller (weaker than F)

Now it is necessary to indicate how their position in the line is indicated in the numerical marking of the chips.


X5 E8Braswell
X7 Z8Cherry trail
X5 Z8Cherry trail
Z37xxBay Tral-T
Z27xxClower trail
Z25xxClower Trail +

The rest of the figures show the position in terms of performance among similar models.

Core M

These chips are among the company’s most energy efficient processors. They are designed so that they can be used without active cooling (cooler) and be content with passive cooling. The latest technologies are used here: Turbo Boost, Hyper-Threading, etc. Decent cache size. TDP varies from 3.5W to 7W, this is decided by the electronics manufacturer based on the cooling success. These chips have a very large Turbo Boost, which allows flexible adjustment of heat dissipation. This family was presented in the fall of 2014 at IFA 2014, as a demonstration of the transition to 14 nm process technology and the Broadwell generation in general. It was the transition from 22 nm to 14 nm that made it possible to achieve a significant reduction in the level of power consumption. They are proposed to be used for high-performance tablets and ultrabooks.

The first digit in the four-character code represents the generation.

  • 5 Broadwell
  • 6 Skylake
  • 7 Kaby Lake

The letter Y is always present in the name.

The rest of the numbers indicate the position of the model in the frequency family.

For the Skylake generation and subsequent ones, the differentiation of the model also occurs using the number at the letter m (the first digit of the last two). Where:

  • m3 (3) lower frequency
  • m5 (5) average frequency
  • m7 (7) higher frequency

The letter “a” means there is no possibility to lower the TDP to 4 W, in contrast to the model without this letter.

Celeron / Pentium

Let’s start with Celeron. These are budget low-performance processors. They have 1-2 cores, some models have Hyper-Threading technology. Their speed is explained by the small size of the cache of the second and third levels (L2, L3), small frequency and a small number of threads. Many technologies are missing, including Turbo Boost (mobile solutions have Burst). Designed primarily for simple office and multimedia tasks.

As for “hemp, which was once the leading series of the company, now they are positioned as budget processors. They are more powerful than Celeron, but weaker than Core i3. They have from 2 to 4 cores without Hyper-threading and Turbo Boost (mobile solutions have Burst) and other technologies of more expensive models. Also designed for office and multimedia. Can be used as low-end gaming processors due to the low cost and overclocking capabilities of some models, for example, Pentium G3258. This pebble may well compete with AMD’s cheap FX.

Mobile solutions are identified by letters that reflect their TDP.


N4W 7.5W
Y10 W 11.5 W
U15 W 17 W
M35 watts

Processors with the letter N refer to Intel Atom architecture.

If the first digit after 3 is for Pentium:

  • 5 Bay Trail-M.
  • 7 then Braswell.

Celeron, if after number 2 comes 8/9, then this is Bay Trail-M, and if the first number is 3, followed by 0/1, then it is Braswell.

As for other chips, things are as follows. First digit:

  • 1 Ivy Bridge architecture
  • 2 Haswell architecture
  • 3 Broadwell architecture
  • 3 and then 8/9 Skylake


  • 2 Ivy Bridge
  • 3 and then 5 Haswell
  • 3 and then 7/8 Broadwell
  • 4 Skylake

The rest of the numbers indicate the level of performance among similar processors

Among the desktop “stones, there is also a distribution by letter indices.


J10 watts
G, at the end of T35 watts
G50 W 55 W

Processors with the letter J represent the Intel Atom platform. And they qualify just like the letter N, except that J Bay Trail-D.

First digit:

  • No first digit (there should be 4) followed by 5 Sandy Bridge
  • 1 Ivy Bridge
  • 1, followed by 8/9 Haswell
  • 3 Skylake

Here’s how the Pentium:

  • There is no first digit (there should be 4 of them), and then 8 Sandy Bridge (several chips with an initial letter A are knocked out of this nomenclature)
  • 2 Ivy Bridge
  • 3 Haswell
  • 4 Skylake

The rest of the numbers have the same meaning as in the previous case.

Core i

Now let’s move on to the most famous processor family from Intel. This family started in 2009 and is by far the most technologically advanced and productive in the segment of custom chips (server processors cost a lot of money and serve a completely different purpose). This family, in turn, is divided into:

Core i3

In stationary PCs and laptops, they are equipped with 2 cores with Hyper-threading technology, but without Turbo Boost technology.

Core i5

Desktop computers are equipped with 4 cores without hyperthreading, but with Turbo Boost. Laptops usually have 2 cores with Hyper-threading or in the most powerful models 4 cores without Hyper-threading. All versions have Turbo Boost.

Core i7

In stationary computers, 4-8 cores are installed with hyper-threading technology and Turbo Boost. Laptops have 2 to 4 cores with Hyper-threading and Turbo Boost.

With the positioning of the models, everything is clear. From i3 to i7, both performance and price go up.


The first digit (there are 4 of them) means the generation of the chip

  • it is not Nehalem or Westmere, “the stones are equipped with Lynnfield and Clarkdale cores, respectively.
  • 2 Sandy Bridge
  • 3 Ivy Bridge
  • 4 Haswell
  • 5 Broadwell
  • 6 Skylake
  • 7 Kaby Lake

The exception here is the absolutely top “stones, in which this figure is 1 more than the given microarchitecture should have. They belong to families of the type “kernel architecture E. For example, Haswell-E. These chips are very expensive, they have a bunch of solutions for enthusiasts in their arsenal, and they also have a very large thermal package of 130 W 140 W.

Other numbers usually serve to identify a model in a family of similar ones, and this distribution is based on clock frequency.

The Refresh family usually offers nothing new. These are the same old chips without the “Refresh” prefix in the name of the microarchitecture, but with an increased clock frequency.

Now we need to deal with the letter indices:

  • X Extreme-edition chip
  • K unlocked for overclocking
  • P stands for disabled video core
  • T lowered TDP to 45W
  • S reduced TDP to 65W
  • Embedded E Chip, TDP 25W to 45W
  • C enhanced integrated graphics for LGA
  • R enhanced integrated graphics for BGA (nettops)
  • Y reduced TDP to 11.5W
  • U TDP 15W to 17W
  • M TDP 35W to 37W
  • Q 4 core
  • H enhanced integrated graphics

There are several clarifications:

  1. Starting with the letter Y are mobile processors.
  2. Chips with the letter E always stand for embedded systems. They also have their own hierarchy. Q 4 cores. L TDP 25W. T for LGA (not BGA). M for mobile systems, and therefore a lower TDP. U ultra-low power consumption (TDP 15W to 17W). C lack of integrated graphics.
  3. Extreme-edition in different types of devices has different meanings. For laptops, this indicates a very high TDP: 55 W 57 W, and for stationary PCs, it is unlocked for overclocking by a multiplier, which gives more flexible settings for overclocking, unlike K-processors.


Enough this time. If you want to know about server solutions, write in the comments. If you have any problems with the classification, then first read the section “Note. If this is not the problem, then write about this in the comments and we will try to fix it. For other problems related to the material, write there. We hope that our article helped you understand the marking and lines of Intel processors, as well as make the right choice.

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