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Timeline and Generations of Intel Processors | Advancement of Intel Processors

Intel | Generations of Intel Processors | Timeline and Generations of Intel Processor | Nehalem | Sandy Bridge | Ivy Bridge | Haswell | Broadwell | SkyLake | Kaby Lake | Coffee Lake | Cannon Lake/Ice Lake | Tiger Lake/Rocket Lake | Alder Lake | Raptor Lake

As we all know, Intel is well known for being a giant processor manufacturing brand. As we look behind about 10 – 15 years, there wasn’t any brand that stands in front of Intel. At that time, mostly Intel processors were used in all the computers. As time passes, the advancement of technology imparts the best out of the best Intel processors. But in today’s world, there is a brand that is known to be a good competitor to the Intel brand and is known as AMD.

Brief Timeline of Intel Processor Advancement

1. 1971 Intel ® 4004 processor

  • Initial clock speed: 108 kHz
  • Transistors: 2,300
  • Manufacturing technology: 10 microns.

2. 1972 Intel® 8008 processor

  • Initial clock speed: 800 kHz
  • Transistors: 3,500
  • Manufacturing technology: 10 microns.
Intel 8008 Processor

3. 1974 Intel® 8080 processor

Intel 8080 Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 2 MHz
  • Transistors: 4,500
  • Manufacturing technology: 6 microns.

4. 1976 Intel® 8085 processor

  • Initial clock speed: 3 MHz
  • Transistors: 6,500
  • Manufacturing technology: 3 microns.
Intel 8085 Processor

5. 1978 Intel® 8086 processor

Intel 8086 Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 5 MHz
  • Transistors: 29,000
  • Manufacturing technology: 3 microns.

6. 1982 Intel® 286™ processor

  • Initial clock speed: 6 MHz
  • Transistors: 134,000
  • Manufacturing technology: 1.5 microns.
Intel 286 Processor

7. 1985 Intel 386™ processor

Intel 386 Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 16 MHz
  • Transistors: 275,000
  • Manufacturing technology: 1.5 microns.

8. 1989 Intel 486™ processor

  • Initial clock speed: 25 MHz
  • Transistors: 1.2 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 1 micron.
Intel 486 Processor

9. 1993 Intel® Pentium® processor

Intel Pentium Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 66 MHz
  • Transistors: 3.1 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.8 microns.

10. 1995 Intel® Pentium® Pro processor

  • Initial clock speed: 200 MHz
  • Transistors: 5.5 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.35 micron.
Intel Pentium Pro Process

11. 1997 Intel® Pentium ll® processor

Intel Pentium ll Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 300 MHz
  • Transistors: 7.5 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.25 micron.

12. 1998 Intel® Celeron® processor

  • Initial clock speed: 266 MHz
  • Transistors: 7.5 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.25 micron.
Intel® Celeron® processor

13. 1999 Intel® Pentium® III processor

Intel Pentium lll Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 600 MHz
  • Transistors: 9.5 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.25 micron.

14. 2000 Intel® Pentium® 4 processor

  • Initial clock speed: 1.5 GHz
  • Transistors: 42 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.18 micron.
Intel Pentium 4 Processor

15. 2001 Intel® Xeon® processor

Intel Xeon Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 1.7 GHz
  • Transistors: 42 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 0.18 micron.

16. 2003 Intel® Pentium® M processor

  • Initial clock speed: 1.7 GHz
  • Transistors: 55 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 90 nm
Intel Pentium M Processor

17. 2006 Intel® Core™2 Duo processor

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 2.66 GHz
  • Transistors: 291 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 65 nm

18. 2008 Intel® Core™2 Duo processor

  • Initial clock speed: 2.4 GHz
  • Transistors: 410 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 45 nm
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor

19. 2008 Intel® Atom™ processor

Intel Atom Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 1.86 GHz
  • Transistors: 47 million
  • Manufacturing technology: 45 nm

20. 2010 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor

  • Initial clock speed: 3.8 GHz
  • Transistors: 1.16 billion
  • Manufacturing technology: 32 nm
2nd Generation Intel Core Processor

21. 2012 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor

3rd Generation Intel Core Processor
  • Initial clock speed: 2.9 GHz
  • Transistors: 1.4 billion
  • Manufacturing technology: 22 nm

Generations of Intel Core Processor

Whenever you see the various ranges of Intel processors, you might notice a thing that Intel releases its series of processors in a generation-wise manner. Do you know what’s the fact behind this? As we all know that technology is improving and updating rapidly as time and days are passing through. So, whenever the improved or better technology has been implemented in the processors, Intel releases its processors with the new edition. This series of new editions of processors are released by Intel in the form of a new generation. Basically, the sequence of releasing the processors in these generations starts after the commencement of Core i-series processors (i3, i5, i7, i9 CPUs).

However, the Generation of a CPU matters a lot in terms of performance and energy efficiency. For example, if we say that the i7 8th generation CPU is better than the i5 8th generation CPU then it is quite true. But if we say that the i7 8th generation CPU is better than the i5 9th generation CPU then this statement might be wrong. This is because these upgraded generation CPUs are better than the previous generation CPUs. In terms of previous generations, they are better in terms of process technology (nm technology) or micro-architecture which enhances its performance, high-end clock speed and power efficiency, etc. There are various generations of Intel processors.

Intel Core I series
                                                            Intel Core I series

1st Generation of Intel Core Processor- Nehalem

The 1st Generation of Intel CPUs is based on Nehalem micro-architecture. It is released by Intel in 2008. This microarchitecture is based on 45nm process technology. These processors have 731M to 2300 Million transistors of size 45nm each. In the performance section, the clock speed of first Generation Intel processors ranges from 1.06 GHz to 3.33 GHz. Nehalem series has a minimum of 2 cores and a maximum of 6 cores.

The cache memory of these processors has 64 kb per core of L1 cache, 256 kb per core of L2 cache, and 4 MB to 24 MB of shared (used by all the cores) L3 cache. Hyper-Threading technology was also reintroduced in this generation. It supports 1156 LGA sockets and 2-channel DDR3 RAM.

2nd Generation of Intel Core Processor- Sandy Bridge

2nd Generation Intel of processors was based on Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. It is introduced by Intel in 2011. Processors of this generation are based on 32 nm process technology. Transistors in this series of processors have 504 Million to 2.27 Billion transistors of size 32 nm each. Sandy Bridge is a successor of Nehalem micro-architecture.

The clock speed of this generation ranges from 1.60 GHz to 3.60 GHz. Nehalem series has 1 to 4 cores of normal CPUs, 4-6 cores in Extreme variants, and 2-8 cores in Xeon series processors at that time. The cache memory of CPUs of this generation has 64 kb per core of L1 cache, 256 kb per core of L2 cache, and 1 MB to 8 MB of shared L3 cache in normal variants 10-15 MB in extreme variants, and 3-20 MB of L3 cache in Xeon series processor. It supports an 1155 LGA socket and 2-channel DDR3-1066 RAM. This will give an 11.3 % increase in performance as compared to Nehalem(1st generation of Intel) Processors.

3rd Generation of Intel Core Processor- Ivy Bridge

Launched on April 29, 2012. 3rd Generation of Intel processors is based on Ivy Bridge micro-architecture which is based on 22 nm process technology. This micro-architecture has 2,104 (22 nm) million transistors situated in a single chip. It is the first generation that has tri-gate transistors.

In the performance section, its clock speed ranges from 1.4 GHz to 4.1 GHz. The cache memory of this architecture consists of 64 kb per core of L1 cache, 256 kb per core of L2 cache, and 2 MB to 8 MB shared (used by all the cores) of L3 cache. It consists of 2-4 cores in mainstream and 2-15 cores in the Xeon series. It supports LGA 1155, LGA 2011, LGA 2011-1, and LGA 1356, sockets with DDR3-1333 to DDR3-1600 RAM. This processor model consumes up to 50% less energy and will give a 25% to 68% increase in performance as compared to Sandy Bridge(2nd generation of Intel) Processors.

4th Generation of Intel Core Processor- Haswell

Haswell is the codename used by Intel for its 4th Generation processors. This generation was launched on June 4, 2013. Basically, Haswell’s micro-architecture was also based on 22 nm process technology but it introduced very low-powered processors mainly designed for convertible or hybrid ultrabooks with the suffix- ‘Y’. It consists of 1,4 billion transistors(about 5.56 billion in extreme variants) in a single chip.

In the performance section, these processors are improved by 3 to 8% as compared to Ivy Bridge. It consists of 64 kb per core of the L1 cache, 256 kb per core of the L2 cache, and 2-45 MB in the shared L3 cache. It also consists of a 128 MB L4 cache but for iris, Pro models only. The cores of these processors range from 2-4 cores for mainstream, 6-8 cores for enthusiast variants, and 2-18 cores for the Xeon series.

5th Generation of Intel Core Processor- Broadwell

The 5th generation of Intel processors was launched on October 27, 2014, and released in 2015. This Intel generation is based on Broadwell micro-architecture which is based on 14 nm(tri-gate) process technology. This generation consists of an additional 2-6 MB of shared and 128 MB of L4 cache(for Iris pro models only) memory. Physical specification includes 2-4 cores(mainstream), 6-10 cores(enthusiast), and 4-24 cores (Xeon Series). It supports some new sockets (LGA 1150, rPGA 947, BGA 1364, LGA 2011-v3) with 2-channel DDR3L-1333/1600 RAM.

6th Generation of Intel Core Processor- SkyLake

Intel released Skylake, the 6th Generation processor in August 2015. Skylake is just a new redesign on the same 14nm process technology which was initially introduced in Broadwell (Intel’s 5th generation architecture). This generation was launched in August 2015. According to Intel, its redesign makes a great difference in the increase in its CPU and GPU performance and low power consumption.

Its maximum clock speed reaches up to 4.5 GHz. The cache memory of this generation is the same as the previous generation for the L1 and L2 cache but there is 2 MB per core of the L3 cache. This architecture supports 2-28 cores of CPUs. Skylake is the last microarchitecture that has official driver support by Microsoft for Operating systems older than Windows 10.

7th Generation of Intel Core Processor- KabyLake

The Micro-architecture of the 7th Generation is known by Intel’s codename ‘Kaby Lake’ and was launched in August 2016. Kaby Lake began to ship their Kaby Lake chips for mobile OEMs in the Quarter phase of 2016 but Kaby Lake desktop chips were officially launched in January 2017. Kaby Lake is of course a refresh of Skylake architecture with few efficiencies and power optimizations. CPU Clock speed performance ranges from 1.00 GHz to 4.5 GHz. The number of cores ranges from 2 to 4 cores.

Kaby Lake is the first Intel platform that lacks the official driver support by Microsoft for Operating systems older than Windows 10. Kaby Lake was designed to improve the performance in 3D graphics and 4K video playback. It supports 1151 LGA sockets and has dual-channel support for DDR3L-1600 and DDR4-2400 RAM slots. Its L1 and L2 cache are the same as previous generations and the L3 cache is up to 8 MB which is shared by all the cores of the CPU. Kaby Lake is the first computer architecture that enables overclocking features for I3-branded CPUs.

8th Generation of Intel Core Processor- KabyLake-R

In 2017, Intel redefined Kaby Lake processors as their new 8th Generation CPUs. The specifications are the same as mentioned in the 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel processor but 8th generation processors support DDR4 RAM up to 2666 MHz frequency but lack DDR3L RAM support.

9th Generation of Intel Core Processor- Coffee Lake

Intel’s 9th Generation was launched in October 2017 but come on sale in early 2019. This generation was known by the Coffee Lake name suggested by Intel on behalf of their microarchitecture(Coffee Lake). This is the first generation platform for the commencement of a brand new I9 processor which reaches up to 5 GHz of clock speed in its activated turbo boost technology.

This generation brings gaming PCs to the next level. Because Coffee Lake processors break the limit of 4 cores per CPU. Now the new processors support up to 8 cores per CPU. It supports 1151 LGA sockets with altered pinouts to support more than 4 cores along with up to 16 MB of L3 cache. Since there are more than 4 cores then definitely it will impart heat enormously. To manage its thermal, intel attached Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) to its CPU instead of thermal paste which was used earlier in their previous generations.

10th Generation of Intel Core Processor- Cannon Lake/Ice Lake

Cannon Lake, Intel’s 10th Generation architecture, was introduced with all-new 10 nm process technology. It was released in late 2017 but production properly started in 2018 and began its sale in early 2020. This generation was best in power efficiency due to its small build form factor of 10 nm and due to minimum production of heat, the clock speed will also increase in this segment up to 5.3 GHz in its I9 unlocked high-end series processor. The I9 10th gen Processor is the World’s fastest mobile processor segment.

Ice Lake is the 2nd generation for the 10 nm CPUs.

They use BGA 1526 sockets and come with DDR4 RAM with 3200 MHz and LPDDR4X RAM with 3733 MHz frequency support. This is the first processor architecture by Intel that comes with integrated support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Thunderbolt 3 USB ports. This architecture is a boon for portable computing devices like laptops, mobiles, etc, because this architecture is most energy-efficient and releases less amount of heat hence improving the performance by increasing clock speed and battery life.

11th Generation Intel Core Processor- Tiger Lake/Rocket Lake

Intel’s 11th Generation, Tiger Lake architecture was launched on September 2, 2020, and this Tiger Lake architecture was availed from October 2020. The laptops with the latest 11th generation mobile processors (U) known to be Tiger Lake are availed first and then the other variants followed by the high-end variants are availed from the 1st quarter of 2021. Tiger Lake is the 3rd generation or optimization of the 10 nm build architecture.

Basically, it will fall a great impact on mobility devices. Its main features will be PCI Express 4.0 technology for SSD (solid-state drive), Thunderbolt 4, USB 4.0 support, LPDDR5 memory, and a great enhanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) Vision. Basically, Tiger Lake is introduced for laptop versions, and Rocket Lake is introduced for Desktop versions.

12th Generation Intel Core Processor- Alder Lake

Intel’s 12th Generation, Alder Lake architecture was launched on November 4, 2021, which is based on Intel 7 nm (previously referred to as Intel 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin) lithography. Intel combined hybrid technology for the first time which includes the mixture of bigger high-performance cores (Golden Cove) along with the smaller high-efficiency cores (Gracemont) as well in the PC (x86) lineup. Intel’s flagship I9 Alderlake processor is known to be the fastest processor in 2021 which got the lead of 13% increased performance in gaming as compared to its previous generation and twice the performance in productivity of content creation workloads.

The maximum clock speed of the top Alderlake’s chip is 5.2 GHz along with an L1 cache of 80 KB per Goden Cove core and 96 KB per Gracemont core. L2 Cache is 1.25 MB per Golden Cove core and 2 MB per Gracemont core and the L3 cache is equipped with up to 30 MB which is sharable to all the cores. Its main features are PCI Express 5.0 technology for SSD (solid-state drive), Thunderbolt 4, USB 4.0 support, LPDDR5 memory of 4800 Mhz, or LPDDR4 memory of 3200 MHz, and a great enhancement AI (Artificial Intelligence) Vision as compared to the previous generation.

13th Generation Intel Core Processor

Intel’s 13th generation of processors is codenamed Raptor Lake, representing the 13th generation of Intel Core processors. These processors employ a hybrid architecture, combining Raptor Cove performance cores with Gracemont efficient cores. Raptor Lake was launched on October 20, 2022, with expectations for the release of mobile versions by the end of the year. Similar to Alder Lake, Raptor Lake is manufactured using Intel’s Intel 7 process. During Intel’s Investor Meeting 2022, it was confirmed that Raptor Lake would feature up to 24 cores, consisting of 8 performance cores and 16 efficient cores. Importantly, Raptor Lake is socket compatible with Alder Lake systems (LGA 1700).

The development of Raptor Lake was driven by the intention to capitalize on process improvements before the arrival of Meteor Lake, as the next microarchitecture was likely to face delays. At CES 2023, on January 3, Intel announced the introduction of new desktop Raptor Lake CPUs and mobile CPUs. The lineup includes a new series known as N-Series processors, which exclusively feature energy-efficient cores.

In terms of competition, Raptor Lake enters the market following the launch of the AMD Ryzen 7000 series, which debuted approximately one month earlier on September 27, 2022.

Features of Raptor Lake processors include the presence of up to 8 Raptor Cove performance cores (P-core) and up to 16 Gracemont efficient cores (E-core). The L2 cache for the P-core has been increased to 2 MB, while the E-core cluster enjoys a 4 MB L2 cache. Additionally, these processors boast up to 36 MB of L3 cache. On the I/O front, Raptor Lake supports DDR5-5600 memory, offers improvements with the Z790 chipset, up to 20 PCIe 4.0 / PCIe 5.0 lanes, and up to 5 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbit/s) ports. The package incorporates third-generation Intel SuperFin transistors, enhancing both P-core and E-core maximum frequencies, and overall power efficiency.

Under the umbrella of Raptor Lake processors, there is a range of desktop and mobile variants. The desktop processors fall under the Raptor Lake-S category, with six unlocked SKUs released on October 20, 2022. Notably, the highest-end SKU, the 13900KS, can reach up to 6.0 GHz at the stock configuration and is slated to debut in 2023.

Common features of Raptor Lake desktop CPUs include the LGA 1700 socket, support for up to 128 GB of RAM (up to 192 GB of DDR5 RAM after a BIOS upgrade), and 20 PCI Express lanes (16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes). Some models feature integrated UHD Graphics GPUs, such as the UHD Graphics 770 with 32 EUs or the UHD Graphics 730 with 24 EUs. The maximum sustained power dissipation, known as Max Turbo Power, can be configured by the system vendor and may exceed the defined value for short durations. It’s worth noting that only specific CPUs offer ECC memory support when paired with a W680 chipset-based motherboard.

On the mobile front, Raptor Lake processors are categorized as Raptor Lake-HX, Raptor Lake-H, Raptor Lake-P, and Raptor Lake-U.

The Upcoming Generations

Looking ahead, there are plans for a Raptor Lake-S Refresh, set to launch in the second half of 2023. This refresh, considered the 13th generation, will utilize the 700 series chipset, while the subsequent release of Meteor Lake will be designated as the 14th generation.

Meteor Lake is a micro-architecture that is being planned by Intel. According to Rumours, it will be a refinement of 10-nm technology in 2022 and an all-new 7-nm Build technology raised in later 2023 with Meteor Lake. 

Also Read: History Of Intel | Timeline of AMD Processors

Also Read: Unveiling Intel’s 15th Gen Arrow Lake CPUs: Enhanced Performance and Advanced Architecture (Rumor)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of generations in Intel processors?

The generations of Intel processors represent the different iterations and advancements in technology, micro-architecture, performance, and energy efficiency of Intel CPUs over time.

How does the performance of an Intel processor vary between different generations?

Generally, newer generations of Intel processors offer improved performance compared to older generations. Factors such as process technology (measured in nanometers), clock speed, cache size, number of cores, and micro-architecture advancements contribute to the performance differences.

Which generation of Intel processors introduced the Core i-series CPUs (i3, i5, i7, i9)?

The Core i-series processors were introduced after the Nehalem micro-architecture, which belongs to the 1st Generation of Intel Core processors.

What are some key features of the 1st Generation Intel Core processors (Nehalem)?

The 1st Generation processors were based on Nehalem micro-architecture, featuring clock speeds ranging from 1.06 GHz to 3.33 GHz, 2 to 6 cores, and support for Hyper-Threading technology. They had various cache levels (L1, L2, L3) and supported 2-channel DDR3 RAM.

How did the 3rd Generation Intel Core processors (Ivy Bridge) improve upon their predecessors?

Ivy Bridge processors, based on 22 nm process technology, offered lower power consumption, enhanced CPU and GPU performance, and introduced tri-gate transistors. They featured clock speeds ranging from 1.4 GHz to 4.1 GHz, 2 to 4 cores, and up to 15 cores in the Xeon series.

What improvements were introduced in the 8th Generation Intel Core processors (Kaby Lake-R)?

The 8th Generation processors, also known as Kaby Lake-R, supported faster DDR4 RAM up to 2666 MHz frequency and offered improved thermal management. They maintained similar specifications to the 7th Generation (Kaby Lake) processors.

What is the significance of the 10th Generation Intel Core processors (Cannon Lake/Ice Lake)?

The 10th Generation processors introduced a new 10 nm process technology, which improved power efficiency. They offered higher clock speeds, reaching up to 5.3 GHz in the I9 high-end series, and integrated support for Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 USB ports.

How does Intel’s processor generation impact gaming performance?

Generally, newer generations of Intel processors provide better gaming performance due to advancements in clock speeds, core counts, and micro-architecture optimizations. However, other factors like graphics cards, RAM, and software optimization also contribute to gaming performance.

Can I upgrade my older-generation Intel processor to a newer generation without changing the motherboard?

In most cases, no. Upgrading to a newer generation Intel processor often requires a compatible motherboard that supports the specific socket and chipset of the new generation.

Are all Intel processors within the same generation equally powerful?

No, the performance of Intel processors within the same generation can vary based on factors like model, clock speed, cache size, and core count. Higher-end models within a generation often offer better performance than lower-end models.

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