Designer’s Hardware Essential I


Designer’s Hardware Essential [CPU]


A quick overview of CPU

  1. Understanding CPU specification
  2. Intel CPU generation
  3. Xeon or Core i9?

Central processing unit (CPU) is the brain (processing and control unit) of the computer.

1. Understanding CPU specs

Intel Core i7-8650U @ 1.9GHz

Brand: Intel Core

Brand Modifier: Core i7

Generation: 8th (the first number of “8650”)

SKU Numeric Digits: 650 (the last three digits of “8650”)

Product Line suffix: U

1.1 Product Line Suffix

Based on its application, product line suffix can be categorized into two types:

laptop (mobile) and desktop.

Laptop product line suffix:

Low power, locked processing frequency (to balance battery life)

U (Ultra-low power) i7-8650U

Y (Extremely low power) i7-7Y75 (fanless)

HQ (High-performance graphics, quad-core) i7-7920HQ

Desktop product line suffix:

High-performance graphics, unlocked processing frequency

K (Unlocked) i7-7700K

HK (High-performance graphics, unlocked) i7-7820HK

1.2 Understanding Cores & Threads

Cpu as a single computing component (chip) can include multiple independent central processing units (cores). Core can consist of multiple basic ordered sequences of instructions (thread is also known as logical processor)


Laptop CPU usually features 2 cores, 4 threads to balance battery life. Only high-performance laptop CPU or desktop CPU features 4 cores, 8 threads or more.

Intel i7-5650U (2 cores, 4 threads) vs. Intel i7-6900K (8 cores, 16 threads)

1.3 Understanding Frequency

Frequency describes the rate at which the processor’s transistor open and close. The base frequency is defined under the CPU’s TDP. Max turbo frequency is the maximum frequency at which the processor is capable of using Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

Laptop CPU usually features lower frequency to balance battery life. Only high-performance laptop CPU or desktop CPU features 4 cores, 8 threads or more.

2. Intel CPU Generation

Different generations feature their specific microarchitecture.

4th Gen (2013): Haswell

5th Gen (2014-2015): Broadwell

6th Gen (2015): Skylake

7th Gen (2016-2017): Kaby Lake


The latest three generations all use the same 14-nanometer manufacturing process technology. The most significant improvement across three generations is better graphics performance in 3D graphics and 4K video playback. For example, in the 5th generation, a core i5 or core i7 model CPU can drive a 4k monitor at 60fps. However, due to graphics improvement on recent 6th and 7th generation, a core i3 or even m3 model CPU can drive multiple 4K monitors at 60fps.

3. Core i7 or Xeon?

People are usually confused by Intel’s “Core i7” and “Xeon” brand CPU because in some ways those two brands both represent high-performance CPU, however, in two ways.

First, the two brands target two different consumer market. Intel Core targets mid-to-high-end consumer market, such as business and gaming, while Intel Xeon targets non-consumer workstation and server markets.

Intel Core i9 Family


Compared with Intel Core i9 (the most powerful model of Intel Core until May 2017), Xeon processor not only features high performance but also advanced features for server and workstation. Here are a few

Intel Xeon Faimly

3.1 ECC Memory

Error-correcting code memory (ECC memory) is a specialized computer data storage for servers. It is stabler than regular memory because it can detect and correct the most common kinds of internal data corruption.

3.2 RAM

Xeon processors support larger than 64GB memory (the maximum memory for most of Intel Core Processor) to 128GB or even more to satisfy server’s need to process a large amount of data.

3.3 Multi-socket System

The motherboards for gaming PC or laptop usually have one slot for CPU. To process a large amount of data, motherboards for server feature two, four, or eight slots for Xeon processor.

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