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Intel’s CPU model names may soon be a jumbled mess of numbers and letters

Rumor has it Intel's 10th gen Comet Lake CPUs will add an extra digit to the model names.

Intel, maker of some of the best CPUs for gaming, has a decision to make, one which I hadn't put much thought into. As it heads toward yet another CPU launch, Intel has to decide where the hell it goes with its CPU model names. If the latest leaks and rumors are any indication, Intel will be adding another digit to its 10th gen Comet Lake lineup.

There's a bit to unpack there. We'll be taking a deeper dive into Intel's nomenclature soon, because it's way more confusing than it needs to be. That said, leaked roadmaps point to Comet Lake being the codename for Intel's 10th gen Core processor family, the one that will succeed Coffee Lake Refresh, or Coffee Lake-R (Core i9-9900K and so forth). And if those roadmaps are correct, Comet Lake will be yet another 14nm architecture (14nm++, specifically).

Now here is where things get interesting, and a little bit silly. Notorious leaker and Twitter user TUM_APISAK dug up a 3DMark database containing an unreleased CPU model: Core i5-10210U.

Intel has been using four-digit model names coupled with a letter (or letters, in some cases) for a long time now. For the most part, it was Intel's 2nd gen Core family that led the march from three digits to four digits, dating all the way back to Sandy Bridge (32nm). Before that, we had processors like the first-gen Core i7-990X.

As Intel continues to squeeze everything it can out of its 14nm node, we've already arrived at 9th gen CPUs that occupy the 9000 series, and it's run out of four-digit numbers. This is not something AMD has to worry about for a long time, because it's about to embark on only its third generation of Zen with its upcoming Ryzen 3000 series.

Intel doesn't have that same luxury, so another digit might be in the cards. In addition to the 3DMark entry, several 10th gen CPU names recently appeared on a Chinese-language forum, as spotted by our friends at TomsHardware. On top of that, another prominent leaker posted some supposed specs on Twitter.

According to all those leaks, here's what we're looking at for Comet Lake:

  • Core i7-10710U—6C/12T, 1.1GHz to 3.8GHz (4.6GHz single-core boost), 15W TDP
  • Core i7-10510U—4C/8T, 1.8GHz to 4.3GHz (4.9GHz single-core boost), 15W TDP
  • Core i5-10210U—4C/8T, 1.6GHz to 3.9GHz (4.2GHz single-core boost), 15W TDP
  • Core i3-10110U—2C/4T, 2.1GHz to 3.7GHz (4.1GHz single-core boost), 15W TDP

Those are all ultra-low power mobile processors (Comet Lake-U). There will also desktop variants (Comet Lake-S), presumably with more cores, more threads, and faster clockspeeds. And longer model names. If an Extreme Edition CPU comes out, we could be looking at something like a Core i9-10980XE. Why stop there? Might as well call it a Core i10-10980XE!

It's all a bit confusing, and while there might not be any end in sight, the good news for Intel is that a five-digit designation should last a very, very long time.

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