To some, it seems like only yesterday since Apple made Intel Core Processors standard in their laptops and desktops. Up until very recently, that was about the greatest change that had taken place for their computers’ CPU capabilities. The addition of new Intel i7 and i5 processors symbolizes the next plateau of performance for these machines. While these CPUs may not feature the muscle of some high end Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, the low-power consumption and intuitive use of CPU make them ideal for laptops and smaller desktop computers.
The first Intel Core i5 processor was released in 2009. This processor functionality lies somewhere between the less powerful Core 2 and the powerful Core i7 lineup. While being less powerful for essential computer functions, these processors come with integrated Turbo Boost technology to over-clock CPU speed when using processor-intensive applications. The initial Core i5 processor released in September of 2009 featured a Quad-Core 2.66 GHz processor and supported use of dual-channel DDR3 RAM. This same processor was used in other Intel models (the Core i7-8xx and the Xeon 3400 processors), however featuring different clock speeds and chipsets. Unfortunately for users of the initial i5 Core processor, hyper-threading was disabled on this model.
These Intel Core i5 processors found their way into mobile devices in 2010 (along with a few clock frequency and chipset augmentations). Along with the release of the mobile Core i5 came an update to the existing desktop version (the Core i5-6xx). Unlike its predecessor, this model featured hyper-threading, however only a 4 MB L3 cache.
It was not until the following year (2011) that the Core i5 series received its next major update. These new CPUs featured Quad-Core architecture, as well as an updated DMI bus (now functioning at 5 GT/s). While these processors feature low-voltage operation, they too lacked hyper-threading capabilities (except for the Core i5-2390T model). Like the previous rendition of the Core i5 brand, these processors offer an integrated Intel graphics processor unit, permitting use of the CPU as both a processor and GPU.
Apple soon incorporated the Quad-Core “Sandy Bridge” i5 processors into their iMac and MacBook Pro lineups (the MacBook Air and Mac Mini only feature dual-core versions of these CPU, with the exception of the Mac Mini server setup). These machines come with a few CPU clock frequency variations (up to Quad-Core 3.1 GHz with the iMac, and a Dual-Core 2.3 with the low-end MacBook Pro), but Intel Turbo Boost technology permits clock rates up to 3.6 GHz.