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Intel could be changing the name of its Core CPUs and we're confused already

As if the whole Raptor Lake refresh and what Meteor Lake CPUs may or may not be inbound wasn't confusing enough, now we've got an odd name on the table.

Intel could be changing the name of its Core CPUs and we're confused already
2 minutes & 1 second read time

It looks like Intel might be preparing to change the name of its Core family of processors, departing from the terminology used for a long time now, namely (pun not intended) the Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 tiers of CPU.

This originates from a leak of an Intel processor via the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark database, an 18-thread CPU with the name 'Core Ultra 5 1003H', apparently switching the Core i5 naming scheme with Core Ultra 5.

At the time, it wasn't clear whether this might just be a different codename used for an engineering sample chip, but now, as VideoCardz points out, Bernard Fernandes, who is Intel's Director of Global Communications, has tweeted on the subject.

Fernandes observes that Intel is at an "inflection point" with the launch of Meteor Lake processors, and that the company is making "brand changes" as a result.

This doesn't directly reference the leak, or confirm that the Core Ultra 5 branding is what's incoming from Intel, but it's a reasonable enough assumption to read into this that this is what's happening.

We're told by another leaker, SquashBionic, that the 'Ultra' label may not apply to all incoming CPUs from Intel this year - which will purportedly be a mix of Meteor Lake and Raptor Lake refresh silicon - so only some will have the new branding slapped on them. Maybe.

Land of confusion

Confused? Well, join the club. The reaction on Twitter isn't pretty, and we can see why. Core i5 and so on are recognizable CPU names at this point, and anybody vaguely familiar with PCs realizes what they denote. Core i5 for mid-range, i7 for higher-tier, and i9 for flagship (with Core i3 at the low-end, of course).

Changing Core i5 to Core Ultra 5 just seems clunkier, and provides folks with no more information about the CPU. Indeed, in the case of a mid-range chip here, it gives a somewhat misleading impression that it's faster (or at least that's our feeling).

If anything, surely any 'Ultra' label should be reserved for the Core i9 range (Core Ultra 9 would make more sense - though we still don't like the name, and feel it's clumsy).

We shouldn't jump the proverbial gun and start getting worked up about a name change that we don't actually know the details of yet, but we can't help it, frankly. It may be that Intel has a different rebranding exercise in mind entirely, and the 'Ultra' label is simply a sample codename - and let's hope so.

If Intel is set to do away with the i5 and other existing brands, why not just switch tack entirely, and move to something different from 'Core' as well. Take the opportunity to really shake things up.

Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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