Intel produces families of seemingly similar microprocessors. For example,
- the Core i5-3320M (2.6 GHz, 3 MB cache),
- the Core i5-3360M (2.8 GHz, 3 MB cache), and
- the Core i7-3520M (2.9 GHz, 4 MB cache).
Does (or likely would) Intel produce processors like these three
- on separate manufacturing lines;
- on the same manufacturing line, but in separate runs on different days;
- on the same line all in one, indiscriminate run, and only later -- at a test stage -- grade the processors, sort them by grade, and assign them model numbers accordingly; or
- in some other way I do not understand?
All of these seem plausible to me except maybe option 1, but what seems plausible to me may have little to do with how a firm like Intel actually manufactures parts.
Please feel free to construe the question broadly. I am most curious to learn the basics of how such manufacturing is organized in modern practice.
@Shantam gives a better word to use with the search engine: binning, rather than grading. Searching with @Shantam's word, one finds @nik's interesting comments three years ago on Superuser.com:
Actually, manufacturers are a smart lot. They 'bin' their produces into different levels of failures. A partly failed cache in a processor instance could become the 'lesser cache, cheaper version' instead of going into the trash bin. Works quite well with the amount of failures seen in fabrication and the surface area of such memory modules (entire cores are 'wired down to sell the instance as a lower range processor -- the Phenom X3?). Nothing wrong in this, and the overclockers are happy to know such things.
The overclocker angle goes this way, if a processor cannot run (heats up) beyond certain frequencies, it is binned to a lower freq target. You get a E6300 C2D (which an overclocker can push up to a higher one with better cooling and maybe good luck on the manufacturers strict 'binning' policies that might have erred towards the lower frequency bin.