What Is an Intel Core I5 Processor?


The Intel Core i5 processor belongs to semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp.'s flagship Core family of 64-bit personal computer microprocessors, or central processing units. Introduced on Sept. 2009, it is one of the successors of the Core 2 brand, positioned above the entry-level i3 but below the i7. As of 2011, there are two generations of production for the i5.

Manufacture And Microarchitecture

  • Intel Corp. manufactures most Core i5 chips as dual-core processors, meaning that they have two cores that they use as processing units. A few, however, are designed as quad-core processors. The first-generation Core i5 chips comprise quad-core CPUs with the 7xx/S model number, dual-core chips of the 6xx series, and dual-core CPUs with 4xx and 5xxM/UM model numbers. These are code-named Lynnfield, Clarkdale and Arrandale, respectively. The i5-2xxx-brand named CPUs, introduced on February 2011, constitute the second generation and are code-named Sandy Bridge. Only the Lynnfield chips use the 45 nanometer mode of semiconductor fabrication, while the others rely on the newer 32-nm manufacturing process.


  • Each Intel Core i5 has a clock speed, which denotes how fast it carries out its basic operations and is usually measured in gigahertz. The desktop PC processors under the Core i5 brand has a clock speed range of 2.3GHz to 3.6GHz. The laptop PC chips -- which Intel calls Mobile processors because they are specifically designed for laptops and its smaller, stripped-down version called the netbook -- have a lower clock speed range, at 1.06GHz to 2.66GHz. Regarding data transmission rate, each processor offers 2.5 billion or 5 billion transfers per second.

Smart Cache And Power Consumption

  • Each Core i5 desktop chip has a Smart Cache -- a small memory bank that it uses for high speed access to computer data -- containing 3, 4, 6 or 8 megabytes of space, while the Mobile CPUs are restricted to 3 MB. With a power consumption range of 17 to 35 watts, the Mobile chips are more energy efficient than its desktop counterparts, which provide a 35-to-95-W range.

Graphics, Memory And Technologies

  • Each Intel Core i5 contains an integrated Intel HD Graphics and memory controller. Also included is a Turbo Boost feature that increases original clock speed. For instance, the i5-680 desktop processor, which is the fastest within the i5 family, can achieve a peak processing speed of 3.86GHz with Turbo Boost. Other technologies of the Core i5 include hyper-threading for improving multitasking, virtualization for integrating several computer environments into a single machine, SpeedStep for improving performance without sacrificing energy efficiency and Execute Disable Bit as an anti-virus measure.

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