2010-2011 Processor Guide
Specifications effective July 1, 2011
Specifications will be reviewed and updated as appropriate.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) has developed this page to help Local Support Providers (LSPs) understand the many processor choices currently available. This guide does not cover enthusiast, workstation, or server processors.
ISC tracks thirteen different lines of processors. In most case, processor speed is no longer considered important, but the class of processor and the size of the cache is.
Netbooks and extremely low powered desktops
Atom: Intel's current low-end and low-power single and dual core processor, available on netbooks (single core) and low-powered desktops (dual core). Actual processor speed is still important with this processor.
Low power desktops and notebooks
Pentium Dual Core: Intel's previous generation low-end dual core processor, available on desktops.
Core 2 Duo: Intel's previous generation mid-range to high-end dual core processor, available on both desktops and notebooks.
Core i3: Intel's current low-end to mid-range dual core processor, available on notebooks and desktops.
Core i5: Intel's current mid-range dual and quad core processor, available on notebooks and desktops. Currently the center of the market.
Core i7: Intel's current high-end quad core processor, available on notebooks and desktops.
"Second Generation" - Competes with Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad
Athlon 64 X2: was AMD's first Dual Core Processor and is aimed for mid-high range systems, comparable to Intel's Core 2 Duo's.
Phenom: AMD's first Triple and Quad Cores aimed for high-end systems. Comparable to Intel's Core 2 Quad processors.
"Third Generation" - Competes with Intel's Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7
Athlon II: a family of multi-core processors spanning from the low to the high range. There are 1, 2, 3, and 4 core options. They are the most current offerings bearing the Athlon name.
Phenom II: a family of multi-core processors spanning from the mid to the high range. There are 2, 3, 4, and 6 core options available They are the successor to the original Phenom. Unlike the Athlon II they support DDR3 Memory.
AMD Notebook Only
Turion 64 X2: AMD's mid-high range mobile dual-core processor lineup. Competes with Intel's Core 2 Duo.
Athlon 64 Neo: AMD's ultra thin processor that compromises speed and power for small size and efficiency. Targeted at ultra thin notebook and netbook designs. Actual processor speed is still important with this processor.
Suggestions: ISC suggests Core i5, Core i7, and Phenom II processors for Performance PCs while suggesting Core i3 and Athlon X2 processors for Value PCs. Notebooks suggestions range from Core 2 Duos on the low-end to Core i5s and Core i7s on the mid and high-end - almost all notebook users will be well served by the Core i5.
For Further Information
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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