Intel is changing its naming scheme. Now both its Core “i” and Core “m” line of processors will bear the Core “i” label. That’s false advertising. Core “m” CPUs are slower than the Core “i” line and are fitted in fanless, slim PCs. They have a harder time handling multiple processes simultaneously and sometimes even face difficulty browsing the web. Core “i” processors are powerhouses and can handle the most daunting of tasks. They’re the gold standard for processing power. So you can see why uniting the m and i line under one label can cause confusion.
It’s going to start with this year’s Kaby Lake processors. i5s and m5s will both be listed under i5 categories; the same goes for the i7 category. Powerhouse laptops will still be fitted with the actual i5 and i7 chips but it’ll be harder to tell for the layman who just wants to get some work done on his laptop. For instance, Apple’s Macbook runs on a Core m processor while the Macbook Pro handles more demanding tasks with the Core i chip. Now there’s no difference in the labels.
Intel has countered that argument by saying that it’s making things less complex for its users and acting upon the feedback from its customers. Intel’s Scott Massey emailed The Verge to say that the lines between the i and m line are slowly blurring. In terms of form factor and performance, both chips are now almost similar.
Massey outlines how the Core m chips max out at 7 W of power while the minimum power required for the Core i line is 7.5 W so that isn’t as big a difference as people might think. He also argues that dual core and quad core chips have lived under the Core i line for years and that certainly hasn’t caused any outrage over confusion.
The label change is also to show the Core m family some love. The chips are always thought of as low performance while the Core i line is so well known as a standard of excellence. I’ve never even had a laptop that had an m chip in it. Probably never would have because why get second best when you can get the absolute best?
The decision makes financial sense too since, instead of having to promote the m chip, Intel can just keep selling the i line of processors that have years of trust built in to them.
However, if you’re still not convinced that the m line is for you, there is a small distinction between the two chips that will probably continue even when they’re labeled the same. The m line of CPUs has a “Y” in their model numbers, such as i5-7Y54, while the i line has a “U” at the end such as i5-7200U.