Notes on Mobile Intel Processors
Intel is more or less the premier brand for PC CPUs, and has been since the 80s. Their chief competitor today, AMD, started off as a 3rd party manufacturer of Intel architectures. Intel remained number one up until the late 90s when AMD broke away with their own innovative chip designs. The two vied for superiority over the next decade until Intel began pulling ahead with their Core series of chips. AMD was an earlier adopter of the dual-core paradigm, where as much of Intel's efforts were put towards breaking barriers in clockspeed (with the Pentium 4 reaching OEM speeds up to 3.8GHz). Today, Intel owns the top of the market in terms of high-end performance, though much of the industry surrounding laptops is focused on low-power, low-heat chips.
Each successive generation of Intel microprocessor architectures introduces its initial wave of processors, and shortly thereafter a die-shrink which almost invariably provides substantial improvements over its predecessors as well as new features and instruction sets. The list of processor families under each microarchitecture shows only those used in laptops.
The Tualatin Pentium III was shown to outperform early versions of the Pentium 4, both in operations and efficiency. However, Intel decided to kill the processor in favor of the new NetBurst architecture, which was shortly revealed to be very ill-suited for mobile processing
- Pentium III-Mobile
The difference between the Pentium 4-M and the Mobile Pentium 4 is a FSB speed of 400MHz on the former and 533MHz on the latter. This generation of Intel processors was among the hottest running ever produced. Laptops utilizing them required much more efficient cooling systems, which led to bulkier designs and poorer battery life. The 533MHz FSB of the Prescott series doubled the energy need of the already power hungry Northwood.
- Pentium 4-M
- Mobile Pentium 4
- Mobile Pentium 4-HT
Intel turned back to the P6 architecture after the relative failure of the P4-M as a mobile processor. They expanded pipeline instructions over the original Pentium III, and introduced the expanded L2 cache first used in the NetBurst architecture. This architecture proved to be far more efficient per cycle than the P4-M, with some benchmarks showing a Pentium M outperforming a P4-M clocked at over a GHz faster.
- Pentium M
This is still essentially the P6 architecture with improved L2 cache and, in the case of the Core Duo, what amount to two Pentium Ms on a single die.
- Core Solo
- Core Duo
64-Bit Core 2 (2006)
Though still heavily inspired by the Pentium M's updated P6 architecture, this generation reintroduced the Intel 64 feature; 64-bit physical memory addressing never before seen in Intel's mobile processors. This processor architecture is possibly the most successful of Intel's, solidifying the growing gap with AMD, reuniting their mobile and desktop architectures, and replacing PowerPC as Apple's processor of choice. Shortly after the Core 2 began landing in mainstream computers, development of the Pentium 4's NetBurst architecture ceased altogether.
- Core 2 Solo
- Core 2 Duo
- Core 2 Extreme
- Core 2 Quad
- Core 2 Quad Extreme
The first of Intel's latest generations, the Nehalem still largely utilized the Core microarchitecture, though with many new features and upgrades. The features added include an integrated memory controller to alleviate the reliance of the earlier Core series' reliance on Front Side Bus, a greatly expanded L3 cache, independent L2 caches per core, the reintroduction of Hyper Threading, and Turbo Boost; a kind of OEM overclocking capability. This generation also introduced Intel's new naming scheme, which designates processor families on a five-star scale: Celeron, Pentium, i3, i5, and i7, respectively.
The second generation of Nehalem processors, Arrandale, also introduced an integrated graphics controller on the CPU die, a feature that would be vastly improved with it's successor.
- Core i3/i5/i7
Sandy Bridge (2011)
This generation is essentially the maturation of the Nehalem architecture, providing greatly improved performance from the on-die GPU, as well overall increased performance. The initial wave of processors suffered from a chipset flaw that would cause premature failure of SATA-II interfaces. Intel issued a recall of chips affected by the flaw by the end of 1Q 2011. Its second generation die-shrink, named Ivy Bridge, is expected at the beginning of 2012.
- Core i3/i5/i7
- Sandy Bridge
- Ivy Bridge