Today, Intel Corporation is a giant in the processor market. It is easily the most popular (and in many opinions, the best) brand of processor available, and it has been for over a decade. Although Intel is seeing more competition now than ever, in the form of Apple computers and AMD, it still is the commanding company name in the processor industry. Their current line of processors, the Intel Core, is an ever-growing line that produces multi-core processor units and their i series. The latter type of processor is based on Nehalem microarchitecture, and is their most current type of processor.
Intel was founded in 1968 as a very small company, but it has been a well-known, innovative company throughout its history. Their name is a portmanteau of Integrated and Electronics, as opposed to the commonly assumed abbreviation of intelligence. It was co-founded by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, and was responsible for the development of the first commercial microprocessor in 1971. Since then, it has become the most popular brand of microprocessors, establishing itself as the premium brand of processor for Windows-based computers with the Pentium series of processors. The Pentium series debuted in 1993, near the beginning of the rise of both IBM, Windows and the personal computer, and the brand grew with it as Windows’ nearly unchallenged developer of processors. Intel grew with Windows, and the Pentium series remained the premier brand of processors until the mid-2000’s.
However, by the early 2000’s, Intel’s market began to shrink. This was caused by two events: first, as technology advanced, the demand for high-end processors shrunk, meaning that the majority of processors being sold were low-end models with less profit potential. Second, they encountered their first major competitor in AMD. Intel still occupies the dominant position in both high-and low-end processors, but with it’s virtual monopoly in the processor market broken, its growth has shrunk dramatically. However, the company received a boost in both revenue and exposure with its integration into Apple computers in 2007.
Today, Intel uses its different brands of processors to distinguish between their quality and price range: the Celeron series is, and has always been, their low-end brand of processors. Pentium has now become their mid-range brand, and their current high-end series is labeled Intel Core. Intel Core superseded Pentium as their high-end brand shortly after its creation in 2006. The brand’s name refers to it’s technology, which emphasizes the use of more than one processing “core” to handle a computer’s tasks. This meant that the competence of a single processor could effectively be multiplied by the number of cores present. So while Pentium processors were still faster as single-core units, the ability to use up to four processors cores rendered the previous technology obsolete. Although Pentium and Celeron processors are now also made with multiple cores, the Core brand is still used to signify processors with higher power outputs.
The most current line of Intel Processors are designated with the letter “i” and an odd number (i3, i5, and i7. The numbers correspond with the processor power in ascending order, so that i3 is the least powerful and i7 is the most powerful. The numbers do not refer to processing cores, as the sheer number of cores is no longer the primary calculator of processing power.
Processors are a major factor in the purchase of any new computer, as they are an integral part of a computer’s motherboard, and among the hardest pieces of a computer to replace. Other hardware factors, like the keyboard, mouse, screen, video card, hard drive, and memory are all easily replaced or added to, but a processor can’t be replaced without removing the entire motherboard. The price, time and risk associated with this makes it more convenient to buy a new computer, in most cases, than to replace a processor. Because of this, a processor should be one of the primary factors in choosing a new computer.