If you follow the latest tech news, you might be curious about the codenames that get thrown out there. Some are known and thematic like Apple’s “big cat” names for Mac OS X and Google’s dessert names for Android (Ice Cream Sandwich, FroYo, etc.) Intel is another big one that uses a lot of codenames for each of its products or product lines like Nehalem, Ivy Bridge, and Sandy Canal but they don’t always have a clear reference.
Intel lists its public codenames at ark.Intel.com. Click “Products by Code Name” on the left hand column to see the long list of them with links to the products description and specifications. Unfortunately, it doesn’t reveal the reasons behind the codenames there.
There is also a page on Wikipedia listing the Intel codenames. In that table, however, it includes a column that lists the reference of the codename when there is a reasonable guess. In Intel’s case, a lot of the references seem to come from the map, often landmarks near the location of the Intel facility producing the product.
Many of these are in the American West, particularly in the state of Oregon (where most of Intel’s CPU projects are designed; see well-known project codenames). As Intel’s development activities have expanded, this nomenclature has expanded to Israel and India. Some older codenames refer to celestial bodies. There is a pattern with recent desktop processors. Since Core 2 all quad-core desktop processors tend to end in “field” (e.g. Kentsfield, Bloomfield, Lynnfield) and most desktop dual-cores end in “dale” (e.g. Wolfdale, Allendale, Clarksdale), with the exception of Arrandale, a mobile processor codename for the mobile i3/i5/i7s. Platforms consisting of a CPU plus a Southbridge end in “trail” (e.g. Bone Trail, Skull Trail, Pine Trail). Server processors for two sockets now end in “town” (e.g. Harpertown, Gainestown, Gulftown, Jaketown), while server processors for four or more sockets end in “ton” (Tigerton, Dunnington, Beckton).
For an even longer list to explore, you can check out the Wikipedia page List of computer technology code names.