Intel to rebrand client chips once Meteor Lake splashes down
Game benchmark suggests 'Ultra 5' could replace names like 'Core i5'
Poll When Intel debuts its forthcoming Meteor Lake client processors, it could be the end of the chip giant's long-standing naming conventions for desktop and mobile processors.
Chipzilla today told The Register "We are making brand changes as we're at an inflection point in our client roadmap in preparation for the upcoming launch of our Meteor Lake processors."
"We will provide more details regarding these exciting changes in the coming weeks."
The Register asked Intel about branding after semiconductor analyst Dylan Patel on Monday tweeted "Imagine you're losing market share when you've been monopoly for decades, and your bright idea is to burn all brand recognition to the ground!"
"That's Intel's plan by removing the 'i' in i7 i5 i3. All the decades brand recognition being lit on fire for no reason!"
Patel labelled the rebranding a "horrible very short sighted move" that won't fix Intel's woes and "will cause more harm than good, as many buyers know + recognize the i7 i5 branding, they won't once it's changed."
"The new branding sounds bad with ultra strewn about + confusing scheme."
Patel's mention of "Ultra" branding appears to be a reference to this benchmark result for game Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation which lists a processor called "Intel Core Ultra 5 1003H".
Look, ma, no "i"!
- Cash-strapped Intel looks for $3B in savings to pursue '5 nodes in 4 years' dream
- Intel reminds everyone it's still cooking away on more PC processors
- AMD was right about chiplets, Intel's Gelsinger all but says
- Intel's 13th-gen CPUs are hot, hungry, loaded with cores
With Intel admitting it's about to rebrand, The Register feels the CPU mentioned in that benchmark is likely more than a glitch and is instead evidence of the forthcoming remonikering.
And perhaps it's about time. Meteor Lake is a big change for Intel – the processors are built from multiple chiplets assembled into a finished product, rather than the silicon-slinger's former approach of using a single die.
If Intel can't rebrand now, when can it rebrand? Given that the chip giant typically keeps a couple of generations of product on sale at a time, and unsold inventory can hang around for ages, distinguishing chiplet-powered processors from their predecessors with a fresh moniker could be sensible.
Getting people to buy them is another matter. Your correspondent typed this story on a 13th-gen Core i7 that features Intel's most recent step change – mixing performance and efficient cores – and it absolutely flies through everything I've been able to throw at it. AMD has offered chipletized desktop CPUs for a few years, yet they have not notably driven demand.
Indeed, PC sales are currently very muted. Bad economic news and machines bought during COVID-19 not yet showing their age – plus no major version of Windows on the horizon to drive a PC refresh cycle – suggests a new generation of chips will struggle to drive demand, with or without new branding. Intel's 13th generation certainly didn't boost sales.
Intel last week told investors "Meteor Lake product on Intel 4 is ramping production wafer starts for an expected launch in the second half of 2023."
Combined with the quote above that mentions "changes in coming weeks," your correspondent notes that the annual COMPUTEX gabfest in Taiwan kicks off on May 28, and has often been used by Intel to announce its latest desktop wares. The Register plans to attend the event, so will be in the room if Chipzilla makes the change to Ultra from the COMPUTEX stage.
While we await the news, let us know what you think of this possible rebranding in the poll below, or the comments. ®