Intel Will Release New CPU Architectures Less Often

Intel Will Release New CPU Architectures Less Often

Intel is forgoing its traditional 2 years "tick tock" CPU development cycle to a lengthier 3 years one.

Intel adopted the tick-tock development model since 2007 to follow every microarchitectural change with a die shrink of the process technology. Every "tick" represents a shrinking of the process technology of the previous microarchitecture and every "tock" designates a new microarchitecture. Every 12 to 18 months, Intel released a tick or a tock.

The tick-tock model was broken in 2014 when Intel introduced a "refresh" cycle that introduced minor updates to the Haswell CPU architecture, buying a few more months for the following "tick."

In its annual 10-K filing [PDF] , Intel confirmed that it has lengthened its CPU development strategy by the introduction of a third "optimization" cycle. Going forward, each tock cycle that introduces a new CPU architecture will be followed by an optimization cycle before the next tick shrinks the die size.

"As part of our R&D efforts, we plan to introduce a new Intel Core microarchitecture for desktops, notebooks (including Ultrabook devices and 2 in 1 systems), and Intel Xeon processors on a regular cadence. 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."

It is getting increasingly difficult to shrink CPU die size as we come closer to limits of how far silicon chips can go, so it makes sense that Intel needs more time between each die shrink. Perhaps AMD could take advantage of the slower Intel development to finally catch up with its CPUs.