IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
8/8/2008
07:39 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Intel's Awful Code Names

Apple's relationship with Intel has done wonderful things for both companies. When Apple's engineers were managing the complicated transition from PowerPC chips to Intel silicon, Intel engineers were there to help. No doubt computer buyers are better off for this intermingling of talent.

Apple's relationship with Intel has done wonderful things for both companies. When Apple's engineers were managing the complicated transition from PowerPC chips to Intel silicon, Intel engineers were there to help. No doubt computer buyers are better off for this intermingling of talent.If only Intel's marketing department engaged with Apple's sales personnel in the same way.

Apple has a pretty good track record in terms of coming up with engaging product code names. Jaguar, Tiger, and Leopard may not be brilliant wordplay, but they're pretty good. The words are evocative and not particularly open to ridicule, as might be the case if Apple chose a code name like Shrew or Vole. Likewise, even for code names intended for internal use, like Dulcimer, the iPod's working title, Apple does well.

Intel, on the other hand, has some of the worst product code names ever, based on place names. Consider Harpertown, Penryn, Conroe, or Merom. It's like Intel's marketing people are just throwing darts at a map.

Back in the early '90s, Intel's 486 and Pentium chips had formidable-sounding code names: Triton, Mercury, Aries, and Saturn. Compare those with more recent ones that don't so much evoke anything as make you scratch your head: Whitney, Tehama, Colusa, and Canterwood. These aren't the sort of names that generate excitement. Sure, if you live in Colusa, it may be nice to get the nod from Intel. But in the wider world, the name isn't fraught with meaning.

Intel archrival AMD has done a bit better, having moved from the excessively whimsical names of dinosaurs in The Land Before Time (Sharptooth and Chomper) and the blandness of its K-series chips to code names like Mustang, Corvette, Sledgehammer, and Spitfire.

Granted, Intel has had a lot of chips to name -- Wikipedia has a rather lengthy list. But surely Intel can put a bit more effort into giving its chips distinct identities. The company is calling its new "many-core" architecture Larrabee.

It's a great name ... for a mule, or maybe for a necktie designed to double as a bib.

# # #

"What's that?"

"It's a 'Larrabee.' "

(Puzzlement.) "It's sorta wide for a tie."

"It's not just a tie. It's also a bib." (Silence.) "You know, for eating lobster and such. They advertise them on TV."

# # #

Next time, Intel, how about a code name that aims to convey something that might actually make you want to buy the product?

(I know your legal team is telling you to stay away from trademark territory, where all the interesting words live, but you've got to take some risks. And what better publicity could you get than a lawsuit?)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of August 14, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.