Intel ends "tick-tock" chip development model

Intel Skylake High Res

For nearly ten years now, Intel has been on a "tick-tock" processor design schedule. Intel would release a new manufacturing process, shrinking an existing design to a smaller size—this was the tick. Then it would introduce a new processor architecture that improved the efficiency and added new features—the tock.

Now, according to The Motley Fool, this model is being scrapped in favor of a new, three-step approach. In Intel's most recent 10-K filing (an annual report to the US Securities and Exchange commission), it states, "We expect to lengthen the amount of time we will utilize our 14 [nanometer] and our next-generation 10 [nanometer] process technologies, further optimizing our products and process technologies while meeting the yearly market cadence for product introductions."

There's also a handy image to show the differences in the two methodologies.

Tick Tock

As pointed out by Legit Reviews, the tick-tock model has already been on the way out. Haswell came as a sort of "semi-tock", followed by the Devil's Canyon refresh. Intel has similarly announced that Kaby Lake will be "refreshing" Skylake. The previously announced 10-nanometer Cannonlake is coming in 2017, Ice Lake is coming in 2018, and this will be refreshed by Tiger Lake in 2019. So we're already seeing the new three step method of Process, Architecture, Optimization being put into action.