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How to tick tock

how to tick tock

Paul Lilly Jul 16, 2015

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Cannonballing into Cannonlake will have to wait

If you were hoping for a 10-nanometer successor to Skylake in 2016, Intel has some bad news. Challenges with the new manufacturing process have prompted Intel to delay its Cannonlake release until "the second half of 2017," according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

Cannonlake was supposed to replace Skylake in 2016 as the next "tick" in Intel's annual "tick-tock" cycle, meaning that it's a die shrink with a few tweaks, not a major new architecture. However, we're at the point in chip fabrication technology where continuing to shrink things gets increasingly difficult.

According to ComputerWorld . Intel is adding a new 14nm chip codenamed "Kaby Lake" to its roadmap to account for the delay. It will be "built on the foundations" of Skylake, but include performance tweaks to hold users over until Cannonlake comes out.

This bump in the road means a disruption in

the tick-tock cycle, which now places Intel on a tick-tock-tock schedule -- a first for the world's largest semiconductor player. In this case, Skylake is the tick and both Kaby Lake and Cannonlake are tocks.

The delay also stretches Moore's Law, which predicts that transistor counts will double every two years (it originally predicted a doubling every year in 1965, but was revised in 1975).

"These transitions are a natural part of the history of Moore's Law and are a by-product of the technical challenges of shrinking transistors while ensuring they can be manufactured in high volume," Krzanich said.

While the delay might be disappointing for some, it's part of the game. Intel faced similar challenges when going from 22nm to 14nm, which also prompted delay.

"The lithography is continuing to get more difficult as you try to scale," Kraznich added.

In the meantime, Skylake is rumored to launch on August 5 with the introduction of the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K.

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