Intel Core i7 is an Intel brand name for several families of desktop and laptop 64-bit x86-64 processors using the Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge microarchitectures. The Core i7 brand is targeted at the business and high-end consumer markets for both desktop and laptop computers, and is distinguished from the Core i3 (entry-level consumer), Core i5 (mainstream consumer), and Xeon (server and workstation) brands.
The Core i7 name was introduced with the Bloomfield Quad-core processor in late 2008. In 2009 new Core i7 models based on the Lynnfield desktop quad-core processor and the Clarksfield quad-core mobile were added, and models based on the Arrandale dual-core mobile processor were added in January 2010. The first six-core processor in the Core lineup is the Gulftown, which was launched on March 16, 2010. Both the regular Core i7 and the Extreme Edition are advertised as five stars in the Intel Processor Rating. In January 2011, Intel released the second generation of Core i7 processors. Both the first and second generation of Intel Core i7 processors are rated as 5 stars in the Intel processor rating. The second generation of Intel core processors are based on the "Sandy Bridge" core and were updated in April 2012 with "Ivy Bridge".
In each of the first three microarchitecture generations of the brand, Core i7 has family members using two distinct system-level architectures, and therefore two distinct sockets (for example, LGA 1156 and LGA 1366 with Nehalem). In each generation, the highest-performing Core i7 processors use the same socket and QPI-based architecture as the low-end Xeon processors of that generation, while lower-performing Core i7 processors use the same socket and PCIe/DMI/FDI architecture as the Core i5.