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Intel's "Tick-Tock" Strategy Stalls, 10nm Chips Delayed

Accepted submission by takyon at 2015-07-16 16:03:45

Intel's "Tick-Tock" strategy [] of microarchitectural changes followed by die shrinks has officially stalled []. Although Haswell and Broadwell chips have experienced delays, and Broadwell desktop chips have been overshadowed by Skylake [], delays in introducing 10nm process node chips have resulted in Intel's famously optimistic roadmap missing its targets by about a whole year. 10nm Cannonlake chips were set to begin volume production in late 2016, but are now scheduled for the second half of 2017. In its place, a third generation of 14nm chips named "Kaby Lake" will be launched. It is unclear what improvements Kaby Lake will bring over Skylake.

Intel will not be relying on the long-delayed extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography to make 10nm chips. The company's revenues for the last quarter were better than expected [], despite the decline of the PC market. Intel's CEO revealed the stopgap 14nm generation [] at the Q2 2015 earnings call:

"The lithography is continuing to get more difficult as you try and scale and the number of multi-pattern steps you have to do is increasing," [Intel CEO Brian Krzanich] said [], adding, "This is the longest period of time without a lithography node change."

[...] But Krzanich seemed confident that letting up on the gas, at least for now, is the right move – with the understanding that Intel will aim to get back onto its customary two-year cycle as soon as possible. "Our customers said, 'Look, we really want you to be predictable. That's as important as getting to that leading edge'," Krzanich said during Wednesday's earnings call. "We chose to actually just go ahead and insert – since nothing else had changed – insert this third wave [with Kaby Lake]. When we go from 10-nanometer to 7-nanometer, it will be another set of parameters that we'll reevaluate this."

[I will convert the following to a table]

Intel Roadmap
Year Old New
2014 Broadwell (14nm) Broadwell
2015 Skylake (14nm) Skylake
2016 Cannonlake (10nm) Kaby Lake (14nm)
2017 10nm "Tock" Cannonlake
2018 ??? 10nm "Tock"

Original Submission