Intel’s Tick-Tock Model
Designed to maintain cadence in ongoing innovation of mainstream Intel® microprocessor technology, Intel utilizes the ‘tick-tock’ model. Using this model, Intel has successfully delivered next-generation silicon technology as well as new processor microarchitecture on alternating years for the past several years.
Tick (process technology advancement) – Fulfilling the prediction of Intel founder and technology visionary Gordon Moore, in what is popularly called Moore’s Law, Intel delivers a new silicon process technology every other year. This ‘tick’ of process technology advancement dramatically increases transistor density while enhancing performance and energy efficiency within a smaller, more refined version of the microarchitecture in production at the time.
Tock (new microarchitecture) – Delivering a new microarchitecture on alternating years, Intel is able to optimize the value of the increased number of transistors and technology updates enabled by the new process. Intel® microarchitecture advancements not only improve energy efficiency and performance, but increase functional density with features, such as hardware-supported video transcoding, encryption/decryption, and other integrated technologies.
For instance, Intel® microarchitecture code name Nehalem (a tock) was initially introduced on the 45nm process technology (a tick). The 2010 Intel® Core™ processor family was the 32nm ‘tick’ version of the Intel® microarchitecture code name Nehalem. Intel microarchitecture code name Sandy Bridge (tock), initially introduced on 32nm process technology, is the foundation of the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family. And, the 22nm tick of the 2nd generation Intel Core processor family is due to be in production at the end of 2011.