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Intel Processor generations timeline and evolution

all generations of intel CPUs

Whenever you purchase a new laptop or a computer, the first thing the seller tells you about is the CPU and its generation. For example, This an Intel 9th generation laptop, or that computer is powered by Intel 10th generation CPU.

So, what exactly are these Intel generations? And, how they have improved over time? Below there is a full timeline of Intel processor generation and their evolution over time.

Generations of Intel Processor

Intel processors have become better and better over generations. The main difference between different generations is the architecture. They also got better RAM support, cache support, and overclocking capabilities over time. New generation CPUs also managed to achieve higher clock speed and became far more energy-efficient. Let’s go take a look at all the Intel CPU generations one by one.

Nehalem – 1st Gen Intel processors(2008)

The very first generation of Intel processors was based on Nehalem microarchitecture. They were launched back in November 2008. The Nehalem processors were the first to get the Intel Turbo Boost 1.0 technology. After getting discounted in Core & Core 2 processors(2006), hyper-threading technology also made comeback in Nehalem CPUs.

  • Process Size: 45nm
  • Transistors: 731 million to 2300 million
  • Clock speed: 1.06 GHz to 3.33 GHz
  • Cores: 2-6 in normal/4-8 in Xeon
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 4 MB-24 MB shared by all cores
  • Sockets: LGA 1156, LGA 2011, Socket G2
  • RAM: 2-channel DDR3-1066
  • Intel turbo boost 1.0

Sandy Bridge – 2nd Gen Intel processors(2011)

After Nehalem came sandy bridge intel CPUs in 2011. However, they were first demonstrated in 2009. Unlike Nehalem Sandy bridge also supported integrated graphics. They also had about 11.3% performance improvements over the last-gen CPUs.

  • Process Size: 32nm
  • Transistors: 504 million to 2.27 billion
  • Clock speed: 1.60GHz to 3.60 GHz
  • Cores: 1-4 in normal/4-6 in extreme/2-8 in Xeon
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 1 MB-8 MB shared by all cores/10 MB-15 MB in extreme/3 MB-20 MB Xeon
  • Sockets: LGA 1155, LGA 1366, LGA 1567
  • RAM: 2-channel DDR3
  • GPU: HD graphics, HD graphics 2000, HD graphics 3000, HD graphics P3000
  • Intel Turbo boost 2.0

Ivy Bridge – 3rd Gen Intel processors(2012)

About a year after the release of Sandy Bridge, 3rd generation Ivy Bridge Intel processors were released. They were backward compatible with Sandy Bridge and supported Microsoft Windows XP.

These processors provided a 3% to 6% CPU and 25% to 68% GPU performance boost while being 50% energy efficient. But on the other hand, they also generated more heat. They were also the first ones to have tri-gate transistors.

  • Process Size: 22nm
  • Transistors: 2104 million
  • Clock speed: 1.4GHz to 4.1 GHz
  • Cores: 2-4 in normal/2-15 in Xeon
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 2 MB-8 MB shared by all cores
  • Socket: LGA 1155, LGA 2011, LGA 2011-1, LGA 1356, Socket G2
  • RAM: DDR3-1333 to DDR3-1600
  • GPU: HD graphics 2500, HD graphics 4000, HD graphics P4000
  • Intel Turbo boost 2.0

Haswell – 4th Gen Intel processors(2013)

The 4th generation of Intel processors called Haswell was released in 2013. They were built on the same 22nm process as Ivy Bridge. However, it delivered an overall 3% performance boost while consuming significantly less power. The heat was still an issue as they got even hotter than the last generation.

Haswell brought new sockets and DDR4 technology to the table. They also partially supported thunderbolt 2.0 technology.

  • Process Size: 22nm
  • Transistors: 1.4 billion to 5.56 billion
  • Clock speed: 1.1GHz to 4.4 GHz
  • Cores: 2-4 in normal/6-8 in enthusiast/2-18 in Xeon
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 2 MB-45 MB shared by all cores
  • L4 cache: 128 MB (iris Pro only)
  • Sockets: LGA 1150, rPGA 947, LGA 2011-v3
  • RAM: Dual channel DDR3/ DDR3L, DDR4
  • GPU: HD graphics 4200, HD graphics 4400, HD graphics 4600, HD graphics 5000, Iris 5100, Iris Pro 5200
  • Intel Turbo boost 2.0

Broadwell – 5th Gen Intel processors(2014)

Broadwell was the 5th generation of Intel processor which was released in 2014. At just 14nm, processor size was very small, resulting in significantly less power consumption.

5th Gen CPUs were Direct3D-12 ready and also supported OpenGL 4.4. Broadwell also brought Intel Turbo boost 3.0 with them

  • Process Size: 14nm
  • Transistors: 1.9 billion
  • Clock speed: 1.2GHz to 4GHz
  • Cores: 2-4 in normal/6-10 in enthusiast/4-24 in Xeon
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 2 MB-6 MB shared by all cores
  • L4 cache: 128 MB (iris Pro only)
  • Sockets: LGA 1150, rPGA 947, LGA 2011-v3
  • RAM: DDR3, DDR3L, DDR4
  • GPU: HD graphics 5300, HD graphics 5500, HD graphics 5700p, HD graphics 6000, HD graphics 6100, HD graphics 6200, HD graphics 6300p, HD graphics
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Skylake – 6th Gen Intel processors(2015)

In 2015, Intel designed their Broadwell processor and called them 6th generation, Skylake CPUs. Skylake redesign changes brought greater CPU and GPU performance improvements even more power efficiency. Those changes were also carried out to upcoming generations of Intel processors.

While overclocking was around for a while, But Skylake “K” series CPUs were the reason why it got so popular. They also supported DMI 3.0 and thunderbolt 3.0 as well as HDMI 2.0 with 4K resolution.

  • Process Size: 14nm
  • Transistors: 1.9 billion
  • Clock speed: up to 4.5GHz
  • Cores: 2-28
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 2 MB per core
  • L4 cache: 128 MB (iris Pro only)
  • Sockets: LGA 1150, rPGA 947, LGA 2011-v3
  • RAM: DDR3, DDR3L, DDR4
  • GPU: HD 530, Iris Pro 580, HD 510, Iris 540, HD 520, HD 550, Iris 550, HD 515
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Kaby Lake – 7th Gen Intel processors(2016)

Intel introduced 7th generation Kaby Lake processors in 2016. They were very similar to Skylake but with power optimization architecture. The new graphical architecture of Kaby Lake also improved 3D graphics and 4k video playback performance. It was the first architecture to introduce overclocking in the i3 CPU. Surprisingly Kaby Lake didn’t have an L4 cache.

  • Process Size: 14nm
  • Clock speed: 1.0GHz to 4.5GHz
  • Cores: 2-4
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 8 MB shared
  • Sockets: LGA 1151, LGA 2066, BGA 1356, BGA 1440, BGA 1515
  • RAM: DDR3, DDR3L, DDR4(upto 64GB)
  • GPU: HD 630, HD 610, HD 615, HD 620, Iris Plus 640, Iris Plus 650, HD P630, UHD 620, UHD 615, UHD 617, UHD
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Kaby Lake R – 8th Gen Intel processors(2017)

There isn’t much of a difference between Kaby Lake and Kaby Lake R(Intel 8th generation) processors. Kaby Lake-R had re-designed multiple micro-architectures. They supported quad-core hyperthreading, something that was missing in the last generation. Intel managed to achieve 15W TDP on them by cutting down base clock speed. However, because of the same turbo boost, there wasn’t much impact on performance.

  • Process Size: 14nm
  • Clock speed: 1.0GHz to 4.5GHz
  • Cores: 2-4
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 8 MB shared
  • Sockets: LGA 1151, LGA 2066, BGA 1356, BGA 1440, BGA 1515
  • RAM: DDR3, DDR4(up to 64GB)
  • GPU: HD 630, HD 610, HD 615, HD 620, Iris Plus 640, Iris Plus 650, HD P630, UHD 620, UHD 615, UHD 617, UHD
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Coffee Lake Refresh – 9th Gen Intel processors(2017)

The original coffee Lake CPUs were 8th generation. Intel 9th generation processors were introduced in 2017 with Coffe lake refresh architecture. These new CPUs had 8 core for the first while maintaining super fast clock speed. Of course, with more core and clock speed came more heat. So Intel used an integrated heat spreader (IHS) instead of thermal paste to manage temperature better.

  • Process Size: 14nm
  • Clock speed: 1.8GHz to 5GHz
  • Cores: 2-8
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core
  • L3 cache: 16 MB shared
  • Sockets: altered LGA 1151 with more core support
  • RAM: DDR4-2666 2-channel up to 128 GB
  • GPU: GT2, GT3e
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Comet Lake/Ice Lake – 10th Gen Intel processors(2019)

Comet Lake is a 14nm 10th generation Intel desktop processor. And, Ice Lake is 10th generation, mobile processors. This generation came with Wi-Fi 6(802.11ax) and thunderbolt 3.0. These CPUs supported BGA 1526 socket and faster LPDDR4X RAM.

  • Process Size: 14nm(desktop)/10nm(mobile)
  • Clock speed: up to 5.3 GHz(desktop)/ 4.1 GHz(mobile)
  • Cores: 2-10(desktop)/2-4(mobile)
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core(desktop)/80kb per core(mobile)
  • L2 cache: 256KB per core(desktop)/512kb per core (mobile)
  • L3 cache: 20 MB shared(desktop)/8 MB shared(mobile)
  • Sockets: BGA1526, LGA 1200
  • RAM: Up to LPDDR4X at 3733 MHz
  • GPU: Gen11 based
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Tiger Lake/Rocket Lake – 11th Gen Intel processors(2021)

The latest and greatest 11th generation architecture includes Tiger lake mobile CPUs and Rocket Lake desktop CPUs. Rocket Lake uses sunny cove CPU cores which increased IPC(instructions-per-clock) by 19%. They also support 8K resolution, Dolby vision, and 12-bit HDR 10.

Tiger lake processor made a great impact on the laptop processor. They have even faster clock speed and some improvements like PCIe 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, USB 4.0, and LPDDR5 memory support.

  • Process Size: 14nm(desktop)/10nm(mobile)
  • Clock speed: up to 5.3 GHz(desktop)/ 5 GHz(mobile)
  • Cores: up to 8(desktop)/2-8(mobile)
  • L1 cache: 64 KB per core(desktop)/80kb per core(mobile)
  • L2 cache: 512KB per core(desktop)/1.25 MB per core (mobile)
  • L3 cache: 16 MB shared(desktop)/24 MB shared(mobile)
  • Sockets: LGA 1200, FCBGA1449, FCBGA1787
  • RAM: DDR4-3200/LPDDR5-5400
  • GPU: Gen12 based
  • Intel Turbo boost 3.0

Alder Lake – 12th Gen Intel processors(2021)

Intel is currently working on 12th generation Alder Lake processors. They will be releasing at the end of 2021(not an official date). Alder Lake will bring a new LGA 1700 socket along with PCIe 5.0, LPDDR5 RAM, and DMI 4.0 support. It could possibly be a redesign on 10nm architecture, however, most of the details about them are currently unknown.

FAQ

What generation is Intel on? – Currently, Intel 11th generation is the latest however it will be replaced by Alder Lake by the end of the year

How to check Intel Processor Generation in windows 10/windows 7?

Go to Start and type” system information”. In system information, you can check the processor tab. It will tell you the name of your CPU.

The First Number of the processor is your CPU generation. For Example, if the processor name is Intel Core i5-10600K then it will be a 10th generation processor.

What is the latest generation of Intel processors? – Coffee Lake CPUs were discounted in June 2021. As of now, we can consider Comet Lake/Ice Lake(10th gen) and Tiger Lake/Rocket Lake(11th gen) latest processors.

Which generation of Intel processors is best? – One simple answer to this question isn’t possible. most of the time newer generation would be better than the previous one. However, you have to check each CPU individually for its performance

For example. Intel Core i5 8th generation 8600k is faster than Intel core i5 10th generation 10400T.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs Intel 10th Gen Core i9-10900k Benchmarks

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