Intel Core i3 processor families

Core i3 line of entry-level Core-branded microprocessors was introduced on January 7, 2010 at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Performance-wise and price-wise these are middle-class CPUs, positioned between more expensive and more powerful Core i5 and Core i7 microprocessors, and budget Pentium and Celeron processor families. Originally based on Westmere (enhanced Nehalem) micro-architecture, Core i3 CPUs were eventually transitioned to Sandy Bridge, and later to Ivy Bridge architecture. Common features of all Core i3 generations are dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, HD-capable graphics controller, and separate DMI interface to peripheral devices. All processors have per-core 256 KB level 2 cache, large level 3 cache shared between two cores, as well as support for basic and some advanced microarchitecture features, such as SSE4 instructions, and Virtualization and HyperThreading technologies. Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs also added support for Advanced Vector Extensions. As common with entry-level and budget families, Core i3 line doesn't include advanced technologies, or have some of its features crippled:

  • Currently (March 2013), the processors include only two CPU cores, as opposed to 4 cores in more expensive Core i5 and Core i7 families.
  • Core i3 CPUs have Turbo Boost Technology disabled.
  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) instructions are not supported;
  • Processors do not support Virtualization for directed I/O (VT-d) and Trusted Execution Technology features.

Intel Core i3 lineup currently consists of desktop and mobile Core i3 families. Desktop Core i3 microprocessors are packaged in 1155- and 1156-land Land-Grid Array (LGA) packages, and require socket 1155 or socket 1156 motherboards. Mobile Core i3 CPUs are manufactured in 1023-ball BGA, 1288-ball BGA or 988 micro-PGA packages. BGA processors are soldered directly on motherboards, and PGA processors utilize socket G1 or G2.

Use the filter below to display families that have specific feature(s) incorporated:

List of Core_i3 families

Intel Core i3-530 - CM80616003180AG / BX80616I3530 / BXC80616I3530
Author: gshv

Desktop Core i3 family spans four generations of processors, Westemere-based Core i3-5xx series, Sandy Bridge-based i3-2xxx, i3-3xxx Ivy Bridge series, and, finally, Haswell i3-4xxx CPUs. Different generations had somewhat different feature sets. Most notably, Westmere chips had 4 MB L3 cache and used socket 1156 (LGA1156).

The second Core i3 generation added AVX instructions, doubled DMI interface bandwidth, and had reduced power consumption and better graphics. The i3-2xxx processors utilized socket 1155, which was incompatible with the LGA1156. The size of L3 cache on these chips was decreased to 3 MB.

The third Core i3 generation had all of the features of its predecessor, and it further improved graphics performance and TDP. Slightly more efficient Ivy Bridge Celerons also featured new Float 16 (F16C) instructions, and they had greater memory bandwidth.

The fourth, and the last at the moment, generation of Celeron CPUs switched to different socket, called LGA1150, or socket 1150. These Haswell-based microprocessors added AES, AVX2 and FMA3 instructions, tremendously boosted graphics performance, and had a voltage regulator integrated on a chip. Some Haswell Core i3s had the size of L3 cache increased back to 4 MB.

Regardless of their underlying microarchitecture, all Core i3 CPUs have 2 cores, and support Hyper-Threading technology, which allows them to run 4 threads at once. The i3 desktop microprocessors have very decent performance, which is close to or exceeds performance of the fastest Core 2 Duo parts. Core i3s are not as fast as Core i5 and i7 CPUs, but they are priced much cheaper, and, consequently, have better price / performance ratio.

Picture of: Intel Core i3-530 - CM80616003180AG / BX80616I3530 / BXC80616I3530

Intel Core i3-350M Mobile processor - CP80617004161AC
Author: gshv

Mobile Core i3s run at considerably lower clock speeds than desktop CPUs, but they have much lower power dissipation - 35 Watt for mainstream parts, and 11.5 Watt - 17 Watt for Ultra Low Voltage parts. Similar to the Core i3 desktop family, mobile i3 processors span 4 successive microarchitecture generations, adding more and more features with each new architecture.

First generation of Core i3-3xx "Westmere" processors had 3 MB L3 cache, SIMD support up to SSE4, and they either required socket G1 or were soldered on the motherboard.

Core i3-2xxx "Sandy Bridge" CPUs introduced AVX instructions, had better integrated graphics and faster DMI interface. These microprocessors were either soldered on the board, or needed a socket G2, which was not compatible with the socket G1.

Core i3-3xxx "Ivy Bridge" parts featured improved CPU and graphics performance. These processors came with the same features and used the same socket as the second Core i3 generation, however Ivy Bridge parts could not be used to upgrade older 6-series motherboards.

In June 2013, Intel introduced Haswell-based Core i3 products, that had even better CPU and GPU performance, although the were not compatible with socket G1 and socket G2 laptops. New technologies on Haswell mobile processors were AVX2 and FMA3 instructions, and integrated voltage regulator. In addition to mainstream "M" and ultra low voltage "U" CPUs, Intel also released several "Y" models with TDP as low as 11.5 Watt.

Picture of: Intel Core i3-350M Mobile processor - CP80617004161AC

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At a glance

64-bit microprocessor
January 7, 2010
Technology (micron):
0.022, 0.032
The number of cores:
Frequency (GHz):
1.2 - 3.6
L3 cache size (MB):
3, 4