For the past decade, Intel has used a “Tick-Tock” strategy for producing new processors. For every “tick,” Intel would would produce a new chip using a new lithographic process (the move from 32nm to 22nm to 14nm, for example). Then the company’s next chip would be a “tock,” which means it would use the same manufacturing process, but feature updated microarchitecture.
But Intel has hit a roadblock in its move toward 10nm chips… and as we’ve already heard, the company’s next processor family (code-named “Kaby Lake”) will be the third set of 14nm chips, breaking the cycle.
Now Intel has pretty much verified that Tick-Tock is dead… or at least on hold for a while.
Motley Fool noticed language in a document Intel released to shareholders which confirms that Kaby Lake will be built on a 14nm processor, but that it will “have key performance enhancements as compared to” the 6th-gen Core “Skylake” processor chips.
Intel is also working on upcoming 10nm chips, but the filing says the company expects to “lengthen the amount of time” that 14nm and 10nm technologies will be used, and that instead of Tick-Tock, we can expect a new 3-stage development strategy: Process -> Architecture -> Optimization.
This allows Intel to continue cranking out new chips every year or so. But it remains to be seen just how much of a performance difference we’ll see between the Architecture and Optimization updates.