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Pentium, Schmentium: Decoding CPU Names

Know The Processor Inside Your Computer Case?, Continued

Interestingly, the numbering scheme appears to be aligned closely to what the car industry has been doing for ages. We just don't buy that the similarities with the low-cost Celeron 300 series, mainstream Pentium Processors in the 500 range and premium devices numbered at the 600, 700 and 800's are coincidental. I suppose everybody knows BMW's 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 series; clearly, this wheel was invented by the Bavarians.

With Intel's expansion into new markets and its ongoing platform strategy outpacing BMW's introduction of new models, it is just a matter of time until Intel runs out of options for numbers. They will either have to look at how Mercedes and Lexus are numbering their cars, or take a different approach to numbering its processors. According to our sources, we should not expect Intel to introduce a transparent naming system for its processors. It's rather tough to keep track of all different models across the processor families without an in-depth study of Intel's website, as we will explain on the following page.

Of course, this is a trend that is not only driven by Intel - AMD is also quickly learning how to confuse channel partners, system builders, retailers and consumers. The "QuantiSpeed" rating that AMD introduced in 2000 was often criticized as a deceiving way to describe what's inside a processor package. But in AMD's defense, it was certainly the right marketing strategy to counter Intel's GHz superiority. Today, AMD does not need to classify its processors according to their features - every Athlon model is up to date and equipped with the same functions.

Still, AMD is caught in a trap again; it cannot properly communicate its advantage in the area of power consumption per unit of performance. With this need for differentiation, AMD decided to add a power designation into the naming structure of the Turion 64 processor, and in so doing, gained ground on the way to creating its own Da Vinci code.