The industry’s worst-kept secret becomes official as Intel reveals the Core i3 processor, due for release in early 2010, as its ‘entry-level’ CPU built on the Nehalem architecture.
Intel’s Nehalem triple-play is almost complete, with the Core i3 – previously announced as a brand but without any description or positioning – being confirmed as an ‘entry-level’ processor line.
The chip, which is expected to be released early next year, will slide into a good-better-best scenario beneath the just-launched Core i5 and the Core i7.
“We’ll see the advent of the three Core brands into the market” explains Philip Cronin, General Manager of Intel Australia & New Zealand, “and the Core i3 will evolve into what will be the entry-level brand.”
“One of the single most interesting advances we’ve made is that we’re taking the Nehalem architecture and taking it right across Core i7, Core i5 and next year Core i3” Cronin predicts. “By the time we’ve delivered all three product lines into the market consumers will be faced with a very good choice.”
“The entry-level Core i3 if you need power but are on a bit of a tight budget, the mid-level Core i5 when you want solid performance and capability, and if you’re a real power-user you go for the Core i7.”
The Core i3 is expected to be derived from the same Lynnfield design as the new Core i5 and the second-gen Core i7 processors. However, it will sport only two cores instead of four, lack HyperThreading and rely on an integrated GPU baked into the same chip as the processor die.
It’s also speculated that the Core i3, along with the second wave of Core i5 processors, could use a hybrid model which will marry a 45nm graphics and memory controller to the first 32nm ‘Westmere’ CPU core. Westmere is essentially is a die-shrink of Nehalem which will lead to the arrival of a new 32nm-based ‘Sandy Bridge’ microarchitecture.