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Intel Tick Tock Model

Tick-Tock Model for Intel® Microprocessor Advancement

A forward-thinking plan sets a swift pace for progress

Intel’s “tick-tock” model inspires confidence in the future of microprocessors and the devices that depend on them. Following this model, Intel commits to—and has successfully delivered—continued innovations in manufacturing process technology and processor microarchitecture in alternating “tick” and “tock” cycles.

A tick advances manufacturing technology

With a “tick” cycle every couple of years, look for Intel to advance manufacturing process technology and continue to deliver the expected benefits of Moore’s Law to users. The typical increase in transistor density enables new capabilities, higher performance levels, and greater energy efficiency—all within a smaller, more capable version of the previous “tock” microarchitecture.

For example, a “tick” will coincide with the Intel introduction of Tri-Gate transistors for the 22nm manufacturing process technology. Among its many benefits, this new technology will deliver better performance and extend the battery life of smartphones, tablets, and the new, incredibly slim Ultrabook™ devices.

A tock delivers new microarchitecture

In alternating “tock” cycles, expect Intel to use the previous “tick” cycle’s manufacturing process technologies to introduce the next big innovation in processor microarchitecture. Intel® microarchitecture advancements seek to improve energy efficiency and performance, as well as functionality and density of features, such as hardware-supported video transcoding, encryption/decryption, and other integrated capabilities.

These features mean better experiences for users. Advancements in microarchitecture have enabled a range of new capabilities, including built-in digital video processing with Intel® Quick Sync Video; faster, simpler connections between computers and other devices with Intel® Thunderbolt™ technology; and enhanced entertainment with Intel® Insider™.

The Tick-Tock model through the years

Sustained microprocessor leadership

Intel advanced computing significantly with Intel® microarchitecture code name Nehalem on the 45nm manufacturing process technology. In the “tick” that followed, Intel paved the way for faster computing speeds, reduced power consumption, and more sophisticated applications with the release of Intel® Core™ processor family on 32nm. During the subsequent “tock,” Intel vastly improved mainstream gaming, HD video, Web, and other user experiences with Intel® microarchitecture code name Sandy Bridge on 32nm process technology, in market in March 2011. Expect these alternating advances in manufacturing process and microarchitecture design to continue in the 3rd generation Intel® Core processor family, set for release in 2012.

Predictable processor advancements

Intel design teams work in parallel around the globe to deliver coordinated technology advances inspired by the tick-tock model. A yearly product cadence moves the industry forward in a predictable fashion that can be planned in advance. And while the world anticipates the 22nm manufacturing process technology, Intel is already working on 14nm manufacturing process technology—Intel’s next big process technology achievement.

Shaping the future

As Intel Sponsors of Tomorrow.™, Intel engineers continue to shrink transistor sizes, develop technologies, and release new microarchitectures in cadence with the tick-tock model. This structured, predictable approach is what puts Intel in a position to lead the industry today—and well into the future.

Investing in the industry

Thousands of vendors depend on Intel® processors for product development. To help them forge ahead with new product advancements, Intel invests heavily in research that drives innovations at the silicon level and establishes new, industry-wide standards. Combined with the predictability of Intel’s tick-tock model, these efforts promote faster, more efficient innovation throughout the industry—year-in and year-out.