Haswell: Origin of an Intel Codename

How Intel adopted the name of a small Colorado town as the codename for its flagship processor.

Intel’s flagship chip architecture and upcoming processor, codenamed “Haswell,” will be introduced at Computex in Taiwan amid much fanfare and is expected to inspire a range of sleek touch-based devices. But according to the man who came up with the codename the naming process was pretty mundane.

Intel Haswell Chip

"Haswell" is the internal codename of 4th generation Intel Core processors.

“It’s not very romantic at all,” said Russ Hampsten about the process. “I’ve done a bunch of them and they’re actually more painful than romantic.”

Intel’s legal department takes some fun out of the naming process, according to Hampsten and others, requiring that internal codenames be existing geographical, non-trademarked places in North America that can be found on a map. “Molalla” was originally considered as the codename and met the legal conditions, but Hampsten, a strategic product planner in the Intel Architecture Group, nixed the name even though it was derived from a town in his native Oregon.

“No one could spell it or pronounce it so we looked for something a little bit better,” he said.

Hampsten took the naming project home with him. Late one night while sitting with his laptop on a “boring brown couch in his living room” he found Haswell, Colo.

“I did a zip code search for something easy to spell, simple and catchy,” he said. “I started with Oregon and then moved out by state while staying in the West. I wanted a city at the time. I didn’t want to go for a mountain range or something like that.”

After running the finalists through a self-performed trademark search, Hampsten submitted “three or four” options to Intel attorneys and Haswell, population 68, according to the 2010 census, became the codename for what is officially called 4th generation Intel Core processors.

“But that’s the easy part,” he said. “Then you have to get the team to buy into it. On that front, luckily there was no major pushback. I don’t think anyone said it’s great, it’s fantastic, but they said it was fine — we just need a name.

“I like ‘Haswell.’ It’s quick, easy, everyone knows how to pronounce it. We’re a worldwide company, and sometimes if you have things that are hard to pronounce or spell people mess it up. I’m an old engineer. I’m practical, not too romantic in my ways, so I kinda like it simple and easy.”

Haswell: Origin of an Intel Codename

How Intel adopted the name of a small Colorado town as the codename for its flagship processor.

Intel’s flagship chip architecture and upcoming processor, codenamed “Haswell,” will be introduced at Computex in Taiwan amid much fanfare and is expected to inspire a range of sleek touch-based devices. But according to the man who came up with the codename the naming process was pretty mundane.

Intel Haswell Chip

"Haswell" is the internal codename of 4th generation Intel Core processors.

“It’s not very romantic at all,” said Russ Hampsten about the process. “I’ve done a bunch of them and they’re actually more painful than romantic.”

Intel’s legal department takes some fun out of the naming process, according to Hampsten and others, requiring that internal codenames be existing geographical, non-trademarked places in North America that can be found on a map. “Molalla” was originally considered as the codename and met the legal conditions, but Hampsten, a strategic product planner in the Intel Architecture Group, nixed the name even though it was derived from a town in his native Oregon.

“No one could spell it or pronounce it so we looked for something a little bit better,” he said.

Hampsten took the naming project home with him. Late one night while sitting with his laptop on a “boring brown couch in his living room” he found Haswell, Colo.

“I did a zip code search for something easy to spell, simple and catchy,” he said. “I started with Oregon and then moved out by state while staying in the West. I wanted a city at the time. I didn’t want to go for a mountain range or something like that.”

After running the finalists through a self-performed trademark search, Hampsten submitted “three or four” options to Intel attorneys and Haswell, population 68, according to the 2010 census, became the codename for what is officially called 4th generation Intel Core processors.

“But that’s the easy part,” he said. “Then you have to get the team to buy into it. On that front, luckily there was no major pushback. I don’t think anyone said it’s great, it’s fantastic, but they said it was fine — we just need a name.

“I like ‘Haswell.’ It’s quick, easy, everyone knows how to pronounce it. We’re a worldwide company, and sometimes if you have things that are hard to pronounce or spell people mess it up. I’m an old engineer. I’m practical, not too romantic in my ways, so I kinda like it simple and easy.”