Intel Moves Away From Tick-Tock Chip Production Cycle
The elongated schedule Intel introduced last year with its 14nm processors will continue through at least the 10nm chips, officials tell regulators.Intel CEO Brian Krzanich last year said that with 14-nanometer chips, the company was moving away from its "tick-tock" cadence for manufacturing processors by adding a third 14nm chip to its lineup, pushing back by a year the introduction of its first 10nm processor. Now the world's largest chip maker seems to be formalizing the new schedule. In a 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) March 22, Intel officials said they will continue introducing new microarchitectures for its Core PC and Xeon server chips on a regular cadence, but that the cadence will be stretched from the every-two-years schedule under the tick-tock process, possibly to as much as two-and-a-half years. The extended schedule that is being used for Intel's 14nm chips will be applied to the upcoming 10nm processors, with the first of those chips expected to be introduced next year. "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," the officials wrote in the filing.
For almost a decade, Intel has relied on the tick-tock cadence to enable it to keep up with Moore's Law—the idea proposed by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore more than 50 years ago that the number of transistors in a chip would double every two years—while continuing to shrink the size of its processors. On a tick year, Intel unveils a new smaller process—for example, when the company first moved to 14nm with "Broadwell." The tock happens the following year, when a new chip at the same size is introduced with a range of enhancements for improved performance and energy efficiency. In the 14nm family, it's represented by the "Skylake" processors.