While looking for more details about some upcoming laptops, I noticed that the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 14 inch notebook, which supports up to an Intel Core i7-1355U Raptor Lake processor, will also be one of the first notebooks to support some of least powerful Raptor Lake chips. Entry-level configurations could be available with Intel Core i3-1305U or Intel Processor U300 chips.

And then I did a little more digging and discovered that while Intel unveiled those chips in January, the company didn’t really explain that the Intel Processor U300 is kind of in a category of its own.

On paper, the chip is actually a lot like the Core i3-1305U. Both are 15 to 55-watt chips based on 13th-gen Intel Core architecture and both are 5-core, 6-thread chips that have a single Performance core paired with four Efficiency cores and Intel UHD graphics.

But the Intel Core i3-1305U processor has a little more cache, slightly higher top CPU speeds, and better graphics (with a higher max frequency and 16 more execution units).

Meanwhile the Intel Processor name was unveiled earlier this year for the company’s Alder Lake-N lineup, which includes chips like the Intel Processor N50, N97, N100, and N200 (as well as the Core i3-305 processor). Intel is using the Intel Processor name as a replacement for the Celeron and Pentium branding that was used for previous-generation low-cost, low-power chips based on Intel Atom architecture (like the company’s Jasper Lake, Gemini Lake, and Apollo Lake chips from recent years).

But it turns out that those chips, which feature up to 8 Efficiency cores, but no Performance cores, are all grouped in the Intel Processor N-series.

The Intel Processor U300, meanwhile, is a 13th-gen chip that’s one of only two chips in the Intel Processor U-series (the other is the U300E, which is a slight variation designed for embedded applications).

Intel used to divide its low-cost Pentium mobile chips into Pentium Silver (N-series chips based on Atom architecture) and Pentium Gold (U-series chips based on Core architecture). As the company moves away from its Celeron and Pentium branding, it seems like Intel is sticking to that strategy… but now with the Intel Processor N- and U-series names.

The lineup is still a little confusing, given just how blurry the lines between Intel Processor and Intel Core can be. For example, the Intel Core i3-N305 processor is an Alder Lake-N chip with 8 Efficiency cores and 1.25 GHz Intel UHD graphics with 32 execution units. Intel says it earned the Core i3 name because it offers performance that’s similar to other Core i3 chips. But only supports up to 16GB of RAM.

The Intel Processor U300, meanwhile, is a 1P + 4E chip with 1.1 GHz Intel UHD graphics featuring 48 execution units, support for up to 64GB of RAM, and a much higher turbo power limit. But it’s not a Core i3 chip? Beats me.

Here’s a spec comparison of a few budget chips just to show how messy Intel’s current lineup can be:

ChipCoresThreadsMax CPU freqCacheMax RAMGPUPowerFamily
Core i3-1305U5 (1P + 4E)6Up to 4.5 GHz (P-core)
Up to 3.3 GHz (E-cores)
10MB64GBIntel UHD (64EU / up to 1.25 GHz)15-55 WhRaptor Lake
Intel Processor U3005 (1P + 4E)6Up to 4.4 GHz (P-core)
Up to 3.3 GHz (E-core)
8MB64GBIntel UHD (48EU / up to 1.1 GHz)15-55 WhRaptor Lake
Core i3-N30588Up to 3.8 GHz6MB16GBIntel UHD (32EU / up to 1.25 GHz)15WAlder Lake-N
Core i3-N30088Up to 3.8 GHz6MB16GBIntel UHD (32EU / up to 1.25 GHz)7WAlder Lake-N
Intel Processor N20044Up to 3.7 GHz6MB16GBIntel UHD (32EU / up to 750 MHz)6WAlder Lake-N
Intel Processor N10044Up to 3.4 GHz6MB16GBIntel UHD (24EU / up to 750 MHz)6WAlder Lake-N
Intel Processor N5022Up to 3.4 GHz6MB16GBIntel UHD (16EU / up to 750 MHz)6WAlder Lake-N

The Raptor Lake chips can also support up to DDR5 or LPDDR5x memory with speeds up to 5200 MT/s, while Intel Alder Lake-N chips top out at 4800 MT/s.

Anyway, on paper the Intel Processor U300 looks like it should more powerful than a Core i3-N305 in most respects, although I suppose real-world performance may vary depending on the task. But it does make me wonder whether Intel’s decision to rebrand its entry-level chips has actually made anything easier to understand… or harder.

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6 replies on “Intel Processor U-Series bridges the gap between N-Series and Intel Core i3 (or does it?)”

  1. Intel has done so little with low powered chips its why Apple dumped them. Even the one in my laptop a 1235u claims to be 15 watt but peaks at 55 watts. They are so inefficient that Intel had to create a sort of hybrid setup of P and E cores just to ring in some sanity with power. I mean even AMD U series wiped the floor with battery life and performance on P core only chips. But in all seriousness both Intel and AMD focus on bread and butter performance desktop chips. U series has never been anymore then a energy saving chip basically castrated and unless things change a lot will always be that way. This is what Apple saw as the end of the road.

  2. I wonder why they chose “U”. I’m sure it’ll be confused with CPUs with the “U” at the end. Either U* or *U (where * is a glob/wildcard).

    Plus “Processor” is also part of the full name like “Core”. An Intel processor is different from an Intel Processor.

    1. U has always been Intel’s Low power (Remember Ultrabook marketing) I think it may have originated from the original Pentium Ms that were labeled ULV[ultra low voltage] These had a 5W TDP at the time. We also see U in use in the Celeron 807UE [Sandy Bridge], but its breakout by itself as a series occurs on Haswell (intel 4th gen) and all the articles at the time say U stands for Ultrabook 🙂
      https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/06/the-u-is-for-ultrabook-intels-low-power-dual-core-haswell-cpus-unveiled/
      There has been a U-series ever since, Usually in the name, except for Icelake and Tigerlake which broke this model (Still u-series jsut not in name), skipped 2 generations and is now back in the traditional naming Scheme that I think works well for Intel. It becomes too informational dense with the G monitors added and they got a lot of bad press from that {Gamers Nexus}

      N is ancient and has always meant Atom :), it appears to be taking over what was traditionally Y for the lowest power now. The first atom was a N270 released mid 2008 powering the first netbooks. The small cores I believe are descendants of Atom so only fitting they carry the N moniker.

  3. Thats Successor to Pentium Gold 8505 which had 1 P core and 4 E cores.

    So Pentium Gold became Intel processor U series

    Pentium silver became Intel processor N series.

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