This week, Intel is launching its new Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors and we expect to see a slew of systems equipped with them debuting at CES 2010. The most interesting of these these CPUs is the Core i5, a processor with mainstream pricing that Intel described to us as the company's "halo product." As we're going to see this chip popping up all over the place, we decided to answer five frequently asked questions about it.
1. Hyper-threading makes two cores seem like four. Originally available on the old Pentium 4 CPU, hyper-threading makes a triumphant return. Windows sees each of the processors two cores as a two different processors, allowing multithreaded apps (see our favorites) like Adobe Premiere Pro to utilize all the processor has to offer.
2. Core i5 overclocks itself with Turbo Boost. Based on heat and power conditions, the processor can raise the clock speed of its cores by a wide margin then lower them down again. When you are running a demanding, single-threaded application and only one of the two cores is being taxed, the active core can turbo up while borrowing power from its inactive sibling.
3. Graphics and memory controllers are built into chip. Intel has moved its integrated graphics chip and memory controller right onto the processor package, next to the CPU die. This allows the graphics and memory controllers to share power with the processor so that the graphics can "turbo up" when playing a game or a high def video. It also saves space on the motherboard so notebooks can be smaller and lighter. Notebooks with discrete graphics will be able to power off the integrated graphics.
4. Core i5 blows away Core 2 Duo. On our speed tests, the 2.53-GHz Core i5 chip converted photos and videos twice as fast as a 2.53-GHz Core 2 Duo. The difference was particularly stark when multitasking.
5. Core i5 offers a good compromise between low-budget Core i3 and high-end Core i7. Core i3 systems will sell for less than those with Core i5, but Core i3 lacks the all-important Turbo Boost feature. Core i7 CPUs have Turbo Boost also and reach higher speeds, but cost are designed for enthusiasts and power users with large budgets.