Intel Ditches ‘Tick-Tock’ for ‘Process-Architecture-Optimization’

Adopted in the troubled days of 2006 and Netburst, ‘Tick-Tock’ has served Intel well, pushing the processor firm ever forwards. Though it has served Intel well in the past, recent years have shown that the strategy has become untenable. It comes as no surprise now, that Intel has revealed the successor to ‘Tick Tock’, PAO, or better known as ‘Process-Architecture-Optimization’.

Unlike ‘Tick-Tock’, ‘Process-Architecture-Optimization’ carries a much more unwieldy title but it is the natural evolutionary step. While the old way was to introduce a new process on the Tick year  followed by a new architecture in the Tock year, PAO builds on the same idea. Under PAO, the first year is a new process node, which is based on a known architecture. This will then be followed the next year by a new architecture and finally, in the third year, Intel will optimize both the process and architecture for the final release on that process.

The perfect example is this upcoming generation where we saw Broadwell on the new 14nm node in 2014. That was followed the next year with the new Skylake architecture  in 2015 and then Kaby Lake, which is an optimized Skylake architecture still on 14nm will drop this year. The delays and costs Intel faced with 14nm and 10nm simply precluded them moving onto a new node in the 2 years ‘Tick Tock’ requires.

Moving to a 3-year cadence makes much more sense as Intel has already been slipping into a 2.5 year ‘Tick Tock’ cycle since the launch of Haswell/Haswell-Refresh. By changing it to 3 years, Intel is just accepting the reality that moving to newer process nodes is just going to be harder and longer.  PAO is the new normal as Moore’s law is dead and there is nothing anyone can do about until we move past silicon.

Intel Cannonlake Delayed Till Mid 2017 Could Help AMD in a Big Way

Despite all the bad news from AMD thus far, it looks like they’ll be getting a break for next year. According to a rumour, Intel is delaying their Cannonlake CPUs from late 2017/early 2017 to at least the second half of 2017. Given AMD’s launch of their new Zen CPUs will take place around the original Cannonlake launch date, AMD has a chance to make their 14nm offerings before Intel launches the 10nm Cannonlake.

After Sky Lake which launched a few months ago, Intel is expected to follow up with a 14nm refresh named Kaby Lake refresh in early/mid-2016. That was expected to be followed up by the 10nm refresh Cannonlake in late 2016/early 2017. With Cannonlake now pushed back, it pretty much confirms that Intel’s Tick-Tock will have to move to at least 1.5 years and likely closer to 2. Kaby Lake is set to target sales up to week 9/18 of 2017 meaning Cannonlake will come sometime afterwards.

With 10nm pushed back, AMD has the opportunity to launch their own 14nm Zen CPUs in late 2016 against Intel’s 14nm Kaby Lake. While the process nodes are different, on marketing, this is a win and likely a better showing in terms of power and die efficiency. It also means that AMD can target the holiday season relatively unaffected by a new Intel lineup. The delay for Cannonlake also means the Sky Lake architecture successor will be pushed back as well, giving AMD more time to catch up with Zen as Kaby Lake and Cannonlake are not expected to improve IPC too much.

A delay to Cannonlake also means that the rumoured core count increase for the mainstream platform won’t be out yet, giving AMD an opportunity to compete on core counts as well if their IPC falls short of Kaby Lake. Overall though, it drives home that fact that even with their massive resources, Intel is still hitting a wall with newer silicon processes and it’s time to start looking for a successor.

Thank you Benchlife for providing us with this information

Don’t Expect Socketed Intel Skylake with eDRAM

When Intel frist revealed that the eDRAM cache introduced with Iris Pro could be accessed by the CPU, many users were elated. CPU performance had long been relatively stagnant and extra faster cache would help improve performance. With up to 50GB/s in each direction, the relatively massive 128MB eDRAM L4 cache would bridge the gap between the large yet slow DDR3/4 and the small yet fast L3 cache. Unfortunately though, Intel has no plans to introduce this to socketed Skylake chips, limiting it to soldered BGA SKUs.

One reason many had hoped that Intel would introduce socketed Skylake with eDRAM was due to Broadwell. With the socketed i7 5775C and i5 5675C, Intel paired LGA 1150 Broadwell with 128MB of eDRAM as L4. What’s more, both chips were also unlocked and overclockable. Many had hoped that the unlocked Skylake SKUs or even a locked SKU would offer the same combination. Even with the lackluster overclocks, the 5775C can actually match overclocked 6700K in performance. This means a Skylake part with eDRAM would likely far surpass our current 6700K.

There is still room for Intel to add eDRAM to a socketed chip later on with the Kaby Lake refresh. Set for 2016, that will be little more than a minor refresh on the Skylake architecture and probably a drop in replacement on LGA 1151 motherboards. Even then though, we may not truly see eDRAM as a real option till AMD pressures Intel with Zen combined with maybe HBM or eDRAM.

Thank you TechReport for providing us with this information

Intel Confirms Death of Tick Tock – Kaby Lake to Replace Cannon Lake

In an ominous sign for the future, Intel has officially confirmed the delay of their 10nm process, used for Cannon Lake, till the second half of 2017. In its stead, the 14nm Kaby Lake will take its place for 2016. This confirms the earlier reports that Intel was facing difficulties in 10nm and was adding Kaby Lake to give them more time to work on Cannon Lake. This does seem to place doubts onto earlier information about “Ice Lake“.

CEO Brian Krzanich noted that the firm had already encountered difficulties with their transition to 14nm, which led to the stop gap Haswell Refresh. Kaby Lake will take a similar role as Haswell Refresh but for the Skylake microarchitecture, but will receive some “key performance enhancements” over Skylake. Kzranich also noted that the time frame for Tick Tock was likely to shift to 2.5 years instead of the previous 2 years as die shrinks get harder and harder to implement.

Intel has long kept ahead of the curve with the Tick Tock strategy, but it seems that they can no longer rely just on process technology to keep them ahead of competitors. This is the first official confirm we have for Kaby Lake, but given that the previously leaked slides have shown no real changes for the desktop SKUs compared to Skylake, these “key performance enhancements” may be limited to mobile.

Skylake is looking to be a good buy for those in the market today as it now seems guaranteed that it’s true successor won’t come till 2017. However, Cannon Lake will still be based on Skylake so really, the next major update won’t be till 2018. This should allow AMD to make a splash with their new Zen architecture in 2016 as long as it lives up to its hype. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out over the next few years.

Cannon Lake Goes Missing – Rumors Point to Ice Lake After Kaby Lake

The latest report on Intel’s roadmap shows an interesting turn of events. Intel is supposedly scrapping Cannon Lake, the 10nm chip series meant for 2017, in favour of Ice Lake. This chip will launch after Kaby Lake which itself, is set for 2016 as a replacement for the delayed 10nm architecture previously known as Cannon Lake. More interesting even is the suggestion that Intel will reintroduce FIVR, also known as Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator.

Intel first debuted the FIVR with their Haswell architecture, continuing to use it for the follow-up Broadwell. FIVR allow motherboards to be cheaper and simpler by reducing the number of different voltages that need to be supplied to the CPU package. The FVIR also allows Intel to better control voltages and in some cases, can improve overclocking. Skylake however, set to launch later this year, won’t have FVIR, opting to return to old systems. This change is due to the fact that the Skylake design team is different than the Haswell/Broadwell one.

If Intel does reintroduce the FIVR with Ice Lake, it being the direct successor to Skylake, it points to more changes than what a regular tock or die shrink would get. A return to FIVR would make some sense if we recall Kaby Lake. Kaby Lake is set to be a 14nm refresh of Skylake, meaning Ice Lake might actually be a combined Tick/Tock, meaning the Haswell team might also be working on Ice Lake, which given their past design practices, this makes sense.

At this point, this report hasn’t been confirmed yet so it might not be best to read too much into it. The constantly changing rumours coming out does seem to point to turmoil for Intel’s roadmap ahead. If Intel does slip up, it may be all that is needed for AMD to make a comeback with Zen.

Thank you HardwareLUXX for providing us with this information

More Reports Point to Intel i7-6700K Arrival in Q3 2015

Earlier we brought you a report on Intel’s planned launch for unlocked Skylake at Gamescom in August. Now another source is pointing to a Q3 2015 launch as well, making it seem very likely that the chips will arrive then. According to the source, Intel will probably release i7-6700K before IDF 2015 which starts August 18th, solidifying a launch date at Gamescom two weeks prior. Given that Broadwell just launched last month, Intel ahs a tight schedule for CPUs coming out.

As reported earlier the i7-6700K will feature a core clock of 4Ghz stock with a relatively small turbo to 4.2Ghz. The Skylake chip will also use DDR4 or DDR3L and the standard 8MB cache used by most mainstream i7s. As shown in leaked images, there will be no Crystalwell eDRAM cache, no solder but most importantly, the VRM will be moved back to the LGA 1151 motherboard. The VRM change alone will be worth moving to a new socket for overclockers. We also know that the chip will not come with a stock cooler which isn’t much of a loss given that it can’t handle any overclocking. Hopefully, Intel will pass on the savings for removing the cooler.

Given that rumours are suggesting plenty of 10nm delays, the i7 6700K will likely be a long-lasting chip. It’s hard to tell at this point if the rumoured Kaby Lake refresh in 2016 will include a replacement for the i7 -6700K though given potential competition from AMD’s Zen, Intel probably has one planned. With the chip se to arrive in little over a month, stay tuned for more information as we’ll be sure to bring it to you.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Intel Faces More Delays in 10nm Production

We brought you news earlier this week that Intel appeared to have delayed their 10nm Cannon Lake chips in favour of 14nm Kaby lake. Now more reports have emerged about the delays and yield issues Intel is facing with the transition to 10nm. Word in the industry is that Intel is further delaying their 10nm ramp up into 2016 meaning it’s very likely there will be no 10nm chips till late 2016 at the earliest.

The biggest issue appears to be 10nm yields are below expectations. With low yields, the new process isn’t able to offer any new value for Intel, meaning it makes financial sense to hold off on the transition. This delay is supported by news that a planned $6 billion upgrade to Fab 28 is also being delayed, pointing to a lack of urgency to hit 10nm from Intel. If 10nm delays pile up, the death of Moore’s law and Intel’s Tick Tock strategy are just around the corner.

Intel faces stiff competition from fellow semiconductor manufacturers TSMC and Samsung, both of whom are pushing their own 10nm process. If either of those firms is able to hit 10nm first, they could have a marketing coup as Intel has long been held to be the leader in process technology. Intel would still liklely have a qualitative edge as their process tends to be more advanced at the same node and not all nanometers are equivalent.

A delay to 10nm would also hurt Intel’s mobile plans. While Intel has good mobile architecutres, the backbone is based on a superior process technology that allows Intel to outperform competitors while being more cost effective and power efficient at the same time. If ARM competitors are able to catch up with their own 10nm chips, Intel will be forced to abandon their strategy of offering expensive subsidies to sell chips. AMD also has a chance to strike back in the desktop and server space if Intel is forced to stand still. While competitors will likely hit the same wall Intel has, parity may be enough for them to catch up.

Thank you SemiWiki for the information 

Death of Tick Tock – Intel Delays Cannon Lake for Kaby Lake

In a worrying sign for the semi-conductor industry, Intel appears to have delayed their 10nm process indefinitely. According to slides obtained by BenchLife, Intel no longer makes mention of Cannon Lake, the 10nm die shrink of Skylake. Instead, Kaby Lake will launch as its replacement for 2017, still at 14nm along with some refreshed Skylake processors.

Intel has previously faced significant difficulties in their transition to ever lower lithographies. Moving to 14nm was problematic, prompting a delay to Broadwell by nearly a year. While that single misstep didn’t signal the end of the alternating cycle of shrink and architecture change, another delay will be pretty troubling. Intel has previously expressed confidence that they would reach 7nm on silicon, but these delays aren’t inspiring confidence.

In terms of Kaby Lake, it seems largely to be the same as Skylake and in some ways, reminds us of Broadwell. Kaby Lake looks to be focused on being a mobile update. The desktop line continues on LGA 1151 but is still under the Skylake name which again reaffirms the mobile nature of Kaby Lake. Support for USB 3.1 is added for the PCH but AVX512 is not mentioned. The most interesting chip looks to be Kaby Lake-H which has 2x 128MB of eDRAM cache. This should be a big boon for the iGPU and acting as an L4 cache but may hit diminishing returns as results may not scale as well as before.

With Intel facing delays in introducing new processes and architectures, AMD has a golden opportunity to catch up. 2016 is also the year that AMD is introducing their new Zen CPU and APUs, which combined with a largely stagnant Intel, might provide a chance to reclaim market share. AMD may also have a counter for the eDRAM cache for the APU or even the CPU line with the now proven HBM. Next year looks be quite the set up for a rematch between AMD and Intel.

Thank you BenchLife for the information