For making sure that consumers crave for the next generation of CPUs, Intel has produced chips based on the tick-tock cycle for the last decade. Owing to the already shrinking die sizes, it looks like the process may permanently become a three-step, according to financial documents. The company has already had significant issues going from 22- to 14-nanometers, and it extended the latter to a third generation with “Kaby Lake” chips.
This was the first break from the tick-tock cycle that was being followed for quite some time now. Intel has now confirmed that the longer rhythm, which it calls “process, architecture, optimization (PAO)“, will continue for its upcoming 10-nanometer chips.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tick-tock cycle, basically, during “tick” years, the chip giant upgraded its manufacturing technology to make circuits smaller, for its latest chips, for instance, the tick cycle reduced traces from 22- to 14-nanometers. During “tock” years, it uses the same circuit size and manufacturing technique, but changes the microcode, often drastically, to make chips faster and more energy efficient.
According to what Intel is saying for this move, the latest 14-nanometer chips were on a “2.5-year cycle,” and now it plans to introduce three different 10-nanometer chips yearly. With PAO, the overall pace of innovation by goes down effectively by a third, so, this would mean that consumers will have to wait an extra year before they notice any significant speed improvements.
The new process is a direct result of the difficulty in building chips with traces that are just 20 silicon atoms wide. “We expect to lengthen the amount of time we will utilize our 14nm and our next generation 10nm process technologies, further optimizing our products and process technologies while meeting the yearly market cadence for product introductions,” according to the respective documents.