How Many Cores are in i5
Processors Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7 have existed for 10 years or so, but some users still are perplexed every time they try to build their own systems and are forced to choose between the three. With the most recent 10th generation architecture (Intel Comet Lake) standing out for its great value for money for gaming, and the use of 6 cores and 12 threads, it is a good opportunity to give a review of Intel’s most popular processors.
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Everything you need to know about Intel Core i5
Intel Core i5 is a trademark of Intel, which is applied to various families of desktop and laptop processors. All of them are based on the x86-64 instruction set to ensure full compatibility with the entire PC ecosystem. Intel Core i5 processors have so far used Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake microarchitectures.
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If you want a simple answer, in general, Intel Core i7 is better than Intel Core i5, which in turn is better than Intel Core i3. These numbers are simply indicative of their relative processing levels, so they do not indicate the number of processor cores, far from it.
Its relative levels of processing power are based on a collection of criteria involving its number of cores, clock speed in GHz, cache size, as well as Intel technologies such as Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading. The more cores there are, the more tasks can be handled at the same time. The lowest number of cores can be found in the Core i3s, which currently have only four cores.
Currently, Intel Core i5 processors offer a six-core configuration, just like their bigger brothers, the Core i7. The difference is that the Core i5 lack Hyper-Threading, so they can only run six processing threads, while the Core i7 can run twelve threads thanks to the fact that they have Hyper-Threading. In highly threaded applications like video encoding, the lack of HyperThreading hurts the performance of the Core i5 versus Core i7 by as much as 20 percent or even more. That said, this chip is still faster than any Core i3 processor, as all of these fall one gamut below the Core i5.
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The first Intel Core i5 processor to hit the market used the Nehalem microarchitecture, this first processor was presented on September 8, 2009, as a conventional variant of the previous Core i7 based on the same Lynnfield core. The Intel Core i5 Lynnfield processors offered an 8MB L3 cache, a DMI bus running at 2.5 GT / s, and support for dual-channel DDR3-800 / 1066/1333 memory, and had Hyper-threading disabled. With the arrival of the Intel Core i7 and i5, a new feature called Turbo Boost Technology was introduced, which maximizes speed for demanding applications, dynamically accelerating performance to match the workload.
The first mobile Intel Core i5 processors were based on the Arrandale core, which in turn was Westmere’s downsizing to Intel’s 32nm manufacturing process. Arrandale processors were the first to offer integrated graphics capability, but only models with two processor cores. These chips were launched in January 2010.
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Intel Turbo Boost
Typically, the processor has a standard clock speed that partially determines how fast it runs. While the processor may reduce the clock speed at times to save power, the clock speed listed when purchasing the PC is the fastest clock speed you will receive unless you decide to overclock.
The clock speed of a processor is typically much lower than the actual maximum clock speed that the processor could achieve. The extra margin is not used just because the manufacturer needs to plan for the worst possible scenarios, which means that they need a processor that is sold as a 3GHz processor, can work at that speed in all conditions
However, Intel’s new Core i5 and Core i7 processors have a feature called Turbo Boost, which has the ability to dynamically boost a processor’s clock speed based on the available thermal headroom. Intel Turbo Boost monitors the current usage of a Core i5 or i7 processor to determine how close the processor is to maximum thermal design power or TDP. The TDP is the maximum amount of power that the processor should use. If the Core i5 or i7 processor sees that it is performing well within limits, Turbo Boost is activated.
Turbo Boost is a dynamic feature. There is no unmatched speed that the Core i5 or i7 processor will achieve when in Turbo Boost. It operates in 133Mhz increments and will scale until it reaches the maximum allowed, which is determined by the processor model, or the processor approaches its maximum TDP.
Before Turbo Boost, the option to buy a processor was a compromise. Low-core processors ran faster than many-core processors, simply because having more cores increases power consumption and heat generation. Some programs, such as games, favored dual-core processors, while other programs, such as 3D rendering software, favored more-core models . This posed the user the situation of having to choose, since it was not possible to have everything. Turbo Boost gets rid of this compromise since with this it is possible to offer processors with many cores, which are also capable of reaching very high frequencies when only using a few cores.
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Intel UHD Graphics
With the rise of 4K resolution multimedia content, Intel had to upgrade its integrated graphics processors to support HDCP2.2 on the DisplayPort and HDMI interfaces, although an external LSPCon is still required for HDMI 2.0. The UHD Graphics 630 graphics core with 24 Execution Units is essentially the same as the one used in the previous generation, although its multimedia capabilities have been improved to meet current demands. The UHD naming is mostly for marketing purposes now that UHD content and displays are more ubiquitous when the nomenclature first started. The most important change is the addition of HDCP2.2 support.
Core i5 8269U and Core i5 8259U are the only ones that mount an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 graphics core, much more powerful thanks to the fact that it contains 48 Execution Units. Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 also contains a small 128MB eDRAM cache, reducing the need for the graphics core to access system RAM, which is much slower than this eDRAM. This makes them the most powerful Core i5 processors to play with, as long as you don’t consider an AMD or Nvidia graphics card.
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8th generation Core i5 processors
There’s no question that AMD’s Ryzen processors challenged Intel’s position in the desktop PC market in 2017. Coffee Lake processors came in response to AMD’s Ryzen. Coffee Lake was the jump from the Core i5 and i7 to a six-core configuration, a big leap after ten years anchored in the four cores.
The Core i5 series typically offers enthusiasts the best performance for their money. Thanks to those two additional cores, the Core i5 was then faster than the previous generation Core i7 7700K in most games, and even in some applications. This means that the Core i5 Coffee Lake basically replaced the 7th generation Core i7s. In other words, then mid-range chips were able to accompany high-end graphics cards without becoming bottlenecks.
Intel Core i5 8400 and Core i5-8600K were the first to hit the market, both models offering six processing cores without Hyper-Threading. The differences between them are that the first one has the multiplier locked so that it is not possible to overclock it to improve performance. On top of that, they come down to clock speeds, thermal design power, and price. The Core i5 8400 features a base frequency of 2.8 GHz, which was at the time the lowest of all Coffee Lake-based processors, including Intel’s Core i3 models. This is because Intel wanted to maintain a 65 W TDP, while the Core i5-8600K scored 95 W, allowing the same silicon to adapt to a base frequency of 3.6 GHz.
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A priori, a low clock speed looks bad for performance, but remember that Intel’s Turbo Boost technology accelerates the frequencies within certain parameters. This allows the Core i5 8400 to be significantly faster in workloads that do not load all cores and can even reach 4 GHz of speed when using a single core.
Core i5 8400 and Core i5-8600K are based on an LGA 1551 interface but are not compatible with 200 and 100 series motherboards despite using the same socket. That means you will have to switch to a 300 series motherboard. The justification given for this is that the pin layout is different, so the socket is not really the same even though it has the same number. of contacts. All new desktop Coffee Lake processors are socket processors for using inappropriate motherboards with 300 series chipsets, including the Z370, H370, B360, H310, and the future Z390.
The K designation means that this processor is multiplier unlocked and can be overclocked to improve performance, all always subject to proper cooling, applied voltage, and chip quality. Two processors are never the same, so an operating frequency beyond the factory frequency cannot be guaranteed.
The following tables summarize the most important features of the current Core i5s:
|Intel Core i5 Coffee Lake for Desktop|
|Core i5 8600K||Core i5 8600||Core i5 8600T||Core i5 8500||Core i5 8500T||Core i5 8400||Core i5 8400T|
|Cores and Threads||6/6||6/6||6/6||6/6||6/6||6/6||6/6|
|Base frequency||3.6 GHz||3.1 GHz||2.3 GHz||3.0 GHz||2.1 GHz||2.8 GHz||1.7 GHz|
|Turbo boost||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||3.7 GHz||4.1 GHz||3.5 GHz||4 GHz||3.3 GHz|
|L3 Cache||9 MB||9 MB||9 MB||9 MB||9 MB||9 MB||9 MB|
|Integrated graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630|
|Chart frequency||1.15 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.05 GHz||1.05 GHz|
|PCIe Lanes (CPU)||16||16||16||16||16||16||16|
|PCIe Lanes (Z370)||<24||<24||<24||<24||<24||<24||<24|
|TDP||95 W||65 W||35 W||65 W||35 W||65 W||36 W|
|Intel Core i5 Coffee Lake for Laptops|
|Core i5 8500B||Core i5 8400B||Core i5 8400H||Core i5 8300H||Core i5 8269U||Core i5 8259U|
|Cores and Threads||6/6||6/6||4/8||4/8||4/8||4/8|
|Base frequency||3 GHz||2.8 GHz||2.5 GHz||2.3 GHz||261 GHz||2.3 GHz|
|Turbo boost||4.1 GHz||4 GHz||4.2 GHz||4 GHz||4.2 GHz||3.8 GHz|
|L3 Cache||9 MB||9 MB||8 MB||8 MB||8 MB||8 MB|
|Integrated graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Iris Plus 655||Iris Plus 655|
|Chart frequency||1.10 GHz||1.05 GHz||1.10 GHz||1 GHz||1.10 GHz||1.05 GHz|
|TDP||65 W||65 W||45 W||45 W||28 W||28 W|
9th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU: A facelift without major changes
The 9th generation of Intel CPUs, Coffee Lake Refresh, was based on the same architecture as the previous one but with improvements in manufacturing and hardware mitigations against attacks such as Specter or Meltdown.
This generation represented important changes in the band of Intel Core i3 and Intel Core i7, in addition to including Intel Core i9 on the desktop for the first time. But for the i5 everything remained practically the same, except for the increases in frequencies that occurred, subtle in some cases (+ 100MHz of turbo for the i5-9400) and more notable in others (+ 300MHz of the 9600K compared to the 8600K).
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8th and 9th generation laptops
These two generations were also very present in laptops, a big change coming in the 8th: for the first time, the low-consumption i5s (finished in U) had 4 cores and 8 threads, just like the higher-performance versions. These made them great options for uses that already go beyond purely basic and office automation.
In this sense, a specific CPU stood out a lot, the Intel Core i5-8250U, with base frequencies of 1.6GHz and turbo of 3.4GHz. It is not exactly a powerful option, but it was present in very cheap laptops, and still, in the middle of 2020 it continued to be, 2 years later. It has probably been one of the best-selling notebook CPUs in history, and it is no wonder.
Current Intel Core i5 CPUs
The current line of Intel Core i5 processors is part of its 10th generation of CPUs, with Comet Lake architecture. This is an architecture that comes to squeeze even more Intel’s 14nm manufacturing process than the previous one,
These processors, unlike the previous ones, return Hyperthreading technology to the i5. In fact, the entire line of CPUs in this family has 6 cores and 12 threads. This amount makes them the company’s best option for gaming, combining future-proof performance with a good price.
That said, we leave you the complete line of current Intel Core i5 processors.
|Model||Cores (Threads)||Base frequency||Turbo frequency on all cores||Turbo Boost 2.0||Turbo Boost|
|GPU||GPU clock speed||Smart cache||TDP||Memory support|
|i5-10600K||6 (12)||4.1 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.8 GHz||N / A||UHD 630||1.20 GHz||12 MiB||125 W||DDR4-2666|
|i5-10600KF||N / A|
|i5-10600||3.3 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.8 GHz||UHD 630||1.20 GHz||65 W|
|i5-10600T||2.4 GHz||3.7 GHz||4.0 GHz||35 W|
|i5-10500||3.1 GHz||4.2 GHz||4.5 GHz||1.15 GHz||65 W|
|i5-10500T||2.3 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.8 GHz||35 W|
|i5-10400||2.9 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.3 GHz||1.10 GHz||65 W|
|i5-10400F||N / A|
|i5-10400T||2.0 GHz||3.2 GHz||3.6 GHz||UHD 630||1.10 GHz||35 W|
As you can see, there are a variety of options in which we want to highlight its variants:
- Variant K, are the fully unlocked CPUs for overclocking.
- If it has the letter F it means that it is the same CPU as without that letter, but lacking integrated graphics. These are cheaper CPUs, ideal for gaming, where there will already be dedicated graphics.
- Versions T. These have much lower frequencies and therefore consume much less. They are not interesting to users, realistically.
Within this series, there are undoubtedly three options that are the most interesting: the Intel Core i5-10600K as one of the most powerful CPUs for gaming at a contained price, the i5-10400F as a cheap rival to the Ryzen 5 3600, and the i5-10400 as a perfect choice to combine price and power with acceptable integrated graphics, for example for graphic design PCs.
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2 architectures in the notebook band
Speaking now of laptops, it turns out that we have two different architectures within the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU family. This is due to the coexistence of CPUs with Comet Lake architecture at 14nm, focused on performance, and Ice Lake at 10nm, with higher energy efficiency but worse performance.
But the one that certainly interests me the most is Tiger Lake, launched in September with an improved 10nm process. They are still 4-core and 8-thread CPUs, but with improvements in frequencies, IPC, and integrated graphics that make them perform very well:
|CPU||Nuclei||Threads||GPU execution units||Freq. Graphics||TDP||Freq. Base||Freq. Turbo (1 core)||Freq. Turbo (All cores)|
The future of the i5
The future of the Intel Core i5 is in the next series of Rocket Lake-S CPUs, which are scheduled to launch in early 2021. These will continue to use a 14nm manufacturing node, making use of Cypress Cove cores that should allow a large increase in performance per core.
The point is that this generation will have CPUs with up to 8 cores, so it is not known what will happen to the number of cores of the i5: if they will keep the 6/12, they will return the 6/6 or they will go by some alternative route. Most likely, the 6 cores and 12 threads will remain as before.