Intel confirms chip-naming change

Intel hopes that a new naming scheme will wean buyers off clock-speed addiction

Intel has confirmed to ZDNet UK the truth of rumours that it is dropping speeds from future processor names. Instead, new chips will be christened with a model number, in a similar scheme long adopted by car makers. "Rather than have people concentrate on the gigahertz, we want people to look at the features that make up a particular processor," an Intel spokesman told ZDNet UK.

The new naming scheme will replace the speed with a three-digit number, starting with 3 for low-end chips, 5 for standard performance and 7 for the top of the range models. As now, mobile and desktop processors will be run as two separate brands, and existing brand names will be retained.

Celeron will now be known as Celeron D (for Desktop) or Celeron M (for Mobile), and the Pentium 4, M and 4M will also survive. Thus, the next desktop Celeron will be called something like Celeron D 300 while Dothan, the next upgrade to the Pentium M, will be the Pentium M 700, for example. Different combinations of speed, cache, front side bus and other technologies will be indicated by different numbers in the series.

"The intention is to increase the numbers with the feature count of a processor, not necessarily the performance," said Intel's spokesperson. "You won't be able to compare numbers directly. It will be easier to differentiate products within a family."

Dothan will be the first product to wear the new scheme when it is launched in May 2004, followed by the next revision of the Pentium 4 later in the second quarter. There'll be no 7 model Pentium 4 -- the Extreme Edition end of the market -- until Q4 of this year. Existing chips will retain their existing names, and the full product name will continue to include "Hyper-Threading Technology".

Although Intel is upfront about the similarities between the model naming convention and that long used in the automotive industry, it is keen to discourage people from using the word 'series' after the number.