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I bought HP Pavilion laptop & processor info is:

Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-3217U CPU @ 1.80GHz (4 CPUs), ~1.8GHz.

Please confirm whether it is 2nd or 3rd gen i3 processor?

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Intel's website has a quite good tutorial about how to read CPU codes. You can refer to that website and learn how to read generation number, what do alpha prefixes and SKU digits mean and more for a better understanding of Intel CPUs.

Take your CPU for example: Core(TM) i3-3217U CPU

Processor numbers for 3rd and 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors use an alphanumeric scheme based on generation and product line following the brand and its modifier. The first digit in the four-number sequence indicates the generation of processor, and the next three digits are SKU numbers. Where applicable, an alpha suffix appears at the end of the processor name, which represents the processor line.

So you have a 3rd generation i3 CPU with a SKU number 217. The U suffix implies the following:

Mobile ultra high energy efficient with TDP less than or equal to 11.9W

Meaning that under 100% load, your CPU can dissipate a total power of 11.9W. Note that a desktop CPU (say AMD FX-8150, an 8-core desktop CPU) has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 125W. Less power dissipation means lower energy consumption, which means longer battery life, which is suitable for a laptop.

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It's a 3rd Generation.

According to Intel's list "3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i3 Processors":

"Intel® Core™ i3-3217U Processor (3M Cache, 1.80 GHz)" is on the list.

You can check/learn all you need to know about your Intel CPU from Intel at their "Ark" site: http://ark.intel.com :)

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