Intel to change chip classification

Processor giant, Intel, has announced it will begin including a new numbering system in the branding of its processors to provide the retail market with greater clarity on the functionality of its products.

The three-digit numbering system, to be applied to all of Intel’s new processors, will differentiate both what brand family (such as Celeron or Pentium) the chip comes from and also what additional features it includes.

The 300 sequence of processors will be Celerons, any number starting with 5 (e.g. 500 series) will be Pentium 4 family and the Pentium-M (mobile) chip family will start with the number 7 (e.g. 700 series), Intel spokesperson, Dan Anderson, said.

A higher number in the second two digits of the number will indicate advancements in features within a chip family. For example, a 720 would have a higher front-side bus speed than a 715.

These second two numbers do not just indicate higher clock-speeds, but other aspects of performance such as front-side bus speed and cache, Anderson said.

The numbering system drew parallels with several other consumer technologies, he said.

Canon’s digital cameras for example, were named IXUS400 or IXUS450 – the branding and first digit might imply the same megapixels, while the second two digits indicated a different feature set.

“We have come up with this system to make it simpler for the consumer market,” Anderson said. “It will be a bit of a shift for the channel and the way it sells products, but we feel it is a clearer way of differentiating products.”

The new numbering system will be introduced in the second quarter (around May/June) with the launch of Intel’s Dothan chip family (the next generation of the Pentium-M processor, successor to Banias). It will then be featured on all upcoming Intel chip releases.

For more than a year, Intel’s competitor AMD has been calling for an alternative to ranking processors on the basis of clock speed.

Last year AMD launched a marketing campaign called the True Performance Initiative to debunk what it calls the "megahertz myth", or the belief that a PC processor's clock speed was the most important determination of performance.

AMD claims that Intel has been misleading customers about performance by labelling its processors by their clock speed, and that its model number rating system for its processors more accurately portrays a processor's overall performance.

Anderson said the new numbering system had been an Intel-only initiative.

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