Why Are Intel Processors Named After Lakes?

You might have noticed something common over the last few generations of Intel processors: they all end with lakes. Is there a reason why Intel is following this naming scheme? Or is it random, and they may change it when they release new processors?

Why Are Intel CPUs Named After Lakes?

At first glance, it can look like Intel does have a theme when deciding what to call their processors, i.e., lakes.

For example, the 8th generation Intel CPU is Coffee Lake, while the 10th generation goes by the codename Comet Lake. For the 11th generation, Intel decided to go with Tiger Lake.

Coffee Lake is an actual lake that you’ll find in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

If you look up Comet Lake, the search results show it’s in Summit County, Ohio. Tiger Lake is located in Polk County, Florida.

From the looks of it, Intel is scouring different lakes throughout North America and picking random locations.

However, it isn’t necessary that Intel only sticks to lakes. In fact, they have used a variety of locations, not necessarily inland water bodies.

For instance, Bloomfield, which refers to the Core i7 and Xeon CPUs launched in 2008, is also a township in New Jersey. In 2004, Intel decided to go with Prescott, a city in Arizona.

Again, from this, you can infer that Intel started out with cities before gravitating toward inland water bodies. 

This statement has some truth, but it isn’t the whole picture. If you go as far as 2007, Intel released Sandy Lake, which isn’t a real place or any location you’ll find on a map.

Initially, it was named Gesher. However, they changed it after finding out Gesher is also a political party in Israel.

In recent years, Intel decided to take a new approach. They chose geographical features like mountains and rivers instead of sticking with their previous naming conventions.

They also used names of cities in the past.

From all the examples we’ve shown, you may assume that they only stick to places in North America. While this is true in most cases, Intel has also used locations from other regions. 

When they launched a microprocessor in 2003, its codename was Banias, a location in Isreal.

Similarly, when developing one of their processors in India, it got the codename, Whitefield. This is a place in Bengaluru, India.

It may not be obvious, but this clarifies how Intel names its processors.

Not only does it stick with the theme of geographical features, but it also relies on the location where the processors are designed. 

Who Decides To Name Intel Processors?

As Intel has more than 121,000 employees worldwide, it’s interesting to know who makes the call for naming their CPUs.

Do they have dedicated staff who focus on finding the next best theme and naming scheme, or do they involve everyone?

Initially, it was the engineers who chose the codenames for their processors, and this makes sense. After all, as they were designing the chip, it would be convenient for them to select the names. 

These days, it’s no longer only the engineers who are involved but a wide variety of employees throughout the company.

This can include those responsible for handling branding and marketing for Intel. Perhaps, the legal team can also be a part of the process to ensure the next name they choose won’t put them in hot waters.

Why Can’t Intel Use Other Names for Their Processors?

Looking at how Intel follows a random naming scheme related to geographical features in North America, why don’t they use another theme?

Apple currently uses landmarks in California, like Ventura, Big Sur, and High Sierra, as codenames for their latest macOS versions. Earlier, they used names of big cats such as Tiger, Snow Leopard, and Lion.

We’re sure anyone can come up with better and more exciting names for Intel’s upcoming processors. 

However, it’s not as easy as picking a random name and sticking with it. The main problem every company wants to avoid when naming their products is trademark infringement. 

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, here’s a short description. You can think of it as a company using a trademark without authorization from the original license owner.

For example, Intel cannot call the next processor to release Big Mac. This is because McDonald’s trademarked Big Mac as one of their products. 

However, it’s not like Intel hasn’t tried different naming schemes in the past.

If you go back to the 90s, Intel launched a motherboard with the codename Batman’s Revenge. But as you can imagine, this could’ve caused significant problems.

To avoid trademark infringement, Intel decided to go with geographical features. 

Why Does Intel Use Codenames?

You wonder why Intel wants to use codenames for their processors when they can use something else. Wouldn’t it be better to scrap this practice and use something arbitrary?

While this can work, it can also cause several issues. Let’s look at why Intel continues following this practice in the first place.

Protect Trade Secrets

In the technology industry, the competition is immense. As every company is looking to one-up their competition, which gives them an edge and more market share, you can quickly start to see why anyone would want to protect their projects.

Leaked information may prove helpful for other companies in the same space, allowing them to tweak their products and enter the market faster than the original creator. 

Codenames aren’t new, as they’ve been used for hundreds of years. In World War I, codenames helped mask communication between military forces.

If the enemy intercepted the message, it wouldn’t be immediately apparent what the opposition wanted to attempt. 

Companies adopted this practice, and it helps them along similar lines.

When you use codenames for your products, only you and the people involved in the project will know what you’re talking about in the first place.

To an observer, let’s say, a rival company, they won’t have any idea what you’re referring to when you use a codename.

Maybe, it can be a processor, motherboard, or even something related to software.

At the same time, the codename doesn’t let others know whether the product will be a part of the next generation of processors.

For instance, let’s assume that you’ve never heard of Intel or the codenames it uses for CPUs. You’re in the market to buy a processor for your system.

If you were only to see Tiger Lake and Raptor Lake and nothing else, how do you know which one is new? Similarly, which of these two gives you better performance

As you can see, obscure codenames play an essential role in hiding crucial information that could benefit their competitors, especially in the developmental stages. 

Now, Intel can talk publicly about their processors under development with codenames and the press, and the competition will still have a faint or no idea about their products. 

Generate Interest for Processors

When you use codenames that have nothing to do with the product you’re creating, it can be challenging for your competitors and the press to know what’s going on.

Are you planning on launching a new processor with considerable changes, or will it be an incremental upgrade?

Will you implement the latest technology to give you a significant performance uplift, or will you focus on improving efficiency over everything else?

With this level of secrecy, everyone in the industry will be curious about your work.

When you decide to launch it, the buzz created during the development stage ensures all the eyes will be on your product on d-day. 

We can safely say that Intel follows this strategy, as every launch generates significant interest. 

How To Decipher Intel’s Codenames for Processors?

There isn’t really anything to decipher from the codenames Intel uses for their CPUs. As it is arbitrary, Intel isn’t hoping you’ll figure out everything about their latest processor by analyzing codenames.

In fact, you shouldn’t be relying on Intel’s codenames when buying CPUs for your system. As highlighted earlier in this article, you can’t say what you can expect from the processor until it launches.

Only once you have the specifications and tech reviewers get their hands on the product will you be able to make any meaningful comparisons. 

Another way to determine whether you’ll benefit from upgrading the CPU is to look at the product’s generation, not the codename. The higher the number, the better the processor. 

Remember that with every generation, the lower tiers of the newer generation may match the performance of higher tiers in the previous generation.

This means you don’t always have to go for the best in class to get top-notch performance

You can always shop from the latest offering and save some cash by getting the lower tiers. 

Will Intel Continue Using Lakes in Processor Codenames?

As Intel’s 12th generation CPUs went by the name Alder Lake and 13th generation as Raptor Lake, it is safe to say that they will continue along this part for at least three more generations.

This means the 14th, 15th, and 16th generations of processors will follow this naming scheme. For the 14th generation, it will be Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake. The 16th generation will go by Lunar Lake.

However, there isn’t additional information from Intel regarding what it plans to follow after the launch of the 16th-generation processors in the future. 

One thing is clear: Intel won’t use anything from the processor vocabulary and terminology to avoid confusion. 

How Can You Check if Your Intel CPU Is Named After a Lake?

If you don’t know the codename for the Intel processor on your desktop or laptop, you can find it easily. We’ve created a simple guide to help you get this information.

For Windows

  1. Turn on your desktop or laptop and wait for Windows to load fully.
  2. Press the Windows key and type the following – System Information.
  3. Open the search result System Information.
  4. Under the System Summary tab, look for Processor. It’s located in the right column under Item.
  5. Copy the processor name and search for it on Google. 
  6. Usually, the first search result will be from Intel. Open this link. 
  7. On Intel’s website, you’ll find the codename under Essentials.

There’s also another way to find the processor in your system. You need to use Windows Task Manager. Here’s how you can check for the CPU model.

  1. After booting into Windows, press one of the following key combinations: Ctrl+Alt+Del or Ctrl+Shift+Esc.
  2. This opens up Windows Task Manager. Now navigate to the performance tab.
  3. You’ll find the processor’s name in the top right corner of the Task Manager
  4. Copy everything before @, as this is all you need. 
  5. Search for the same on Google and find the search result from Intel.
  6. The codename will be visible below Essentials.

For macOS

  1. Power on your macOS device and enter the login details.
  2. Press Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight Search.
  3. Type Terminal and open the application.
  4. Copy and paste this code (sysctl -a | grep machdep.cpu.brand_string) and hit enter.   
  5. The result in the terminal will contain the name of the processor. Search for it online and open the result from Intel.
  6. The codename will appear below Essentials.

This method won’t only work for Intel processors. You can also use these techniques to know which manufacturer’s CPU is in your system.