First Generation Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7, which one is the right processor for your application?

It is hard to believe that another month has already passed and it is time for another installment of “Bo Knows”. In this month’s installment we will be helping you to decide which processor is right for your application.

Intel® has three types of processors to choose from within the Core i series 1st Generation processors (I will cover the 2nd Generation in a later article). The choices are the Core i3, Core i5 and the Core i7, but which one should you use in that 2808188 Mini-ITX motherboard you just purchased? To get an answer for this, we first need to know what the actual differences are between the processor families.

Let’s start with the Core i3. This processor is considered to be the low end, budget processor of the group, but this in no way implies that it is lacking the power needed to get the job done. The Core i3 is only available with dual cores, on both the mobile and desktop versions, but does take advantage of Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, that improves the performance in multi-threaded applications and is seen by supported operating systems as each physical core with two virtual processors. The Core i3 is lacking Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, the feature that allows for the processor to dynamically increase CPU clock speed in increments of 133MHz up to the processors maximum frequency when that extra processing power is required. All processors in the Core™ i3 family, both desktop and mobile, have integrated Intel HD Graphics. If your application does not need four physical cores or Intel’s Turbo Boost and you need to keep costs low, then this is the processor for you.

Next up is the Core  i5 processor. This is considered the mid-range and mainstream processor in the group. The Core i5 Desktop processors feature both dual and quad core versions, Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, Hyper-Threading and Intel HD Graphics on the two core versions only; the four core versions do not have the last two features on the 1st Generation Core i series processors.

The Core i5 Mobile processors feature two cores only, Hyperthreading, Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology and all have integrated Intel  HD graphics. These processors provide that extra boost of power that you need for CPU and graphic intensive applications. They may cost a little more than their Core i3 counterparts, but can still be kept well within a budget considering their processing power.

As Global American Inc. does not carry any boards that support the LGA1366 socket, the Core i7 processors that we will be discussing will be focused on the i7-8xx series desktop and all of the 1st generation mobile processors.

The Core i7 processors are considered to be the powerhouse of the family. The desktop versions feature four cores with Hyper-threading, Intel Turbo Boost Technology, but do not have the integrated Intel HD graphics.

The mobile Core i7 processors feature, dual core and quad core options with Hyper-Threading along with Intel Turbo Boost Technology. The dual core versions have integrated Intel HD graphics, but the quad core versions do not. The Core i7 processors are the priciest in the group, but they pack a lot of power for those power hungry applications that need it.

Hopefully this latest installment of “Bo Knows” helps clear up the differences in the selections that are available within the Core i series of processors, but if you are still unclear as to which option you require, our top notch sales and tech support teams can always be of more assistance.

Where’s my Sandy Bridge?

Welcome to the second installment of “Bo Knows”.

As many of you are probably already aware, in early January Intel released the 2nd Generation of Core i7/i5 (Core i3 will be in late February, early March) processors formally known as Sandy Bridge. These processors are paired with the Intel 6-Series Chipsets formally known as Cougar Point.

You may be asking yourself, where are Global American Inc.’s 2nd Generation boards then? First, I would like to let you know that we are working hard with our factories to get these boards out to our customer base, but unlike the commercial side of our field, the industrial and embedded boards take a little longer to come to market; sometimes as long as six months to one full year. There are a couple of reasons for this delay: the factories need to work out which chipsets and processors are going to have long term support, and the manufacturing lines need to be updated to support the new processes, but also still maintain the numerous processes that are still being supported for the next five to seven years. This is something the commercial market does not need to be concerned about, making it much easier to convert their factories over to the process.

“The time it takes for these products to be converted to the industrial/embedded field has improved over the years, and will continue to do so in the future.”

I want to take a moment here to also explain some unforeseen issues and delays that have arisen since the release of the new processors and chipsets. Intel announced on January 31, 2011, that a design flaw was discovered in the 6-Series Chipset that caused degradation of the SATA 300 ports (ports 2 through 5), causing a drop in performance over time (approximately 3 years, although heavier workloads can speed up this process) and eventually a loss of connection to the SATA devices. The newer SATA 600 ports were unaffected. The issue was strictly a chipset issue on revision B2 that required a silicon-based fix; the processors themselves were not affected. Intel did have a recall on the chipset, but has since begun to ship the B3 revision to manufacturers. Our customers will not need to worry about running into this issue.

I want to thank you for reading this installment of “Bo Knows” and please stayed tuned to the Coming Soon section of our website for updates on when to expect the latest boards to be released.