From an article on FastCompany: Intel hasn’t lost its zeal for big leaps in computing, even as it changes the way it introduces new chips, and branches beyond the PC processor into other areas like computer vision and the internet of things. “Number one, too many people have been writing about the end of Moore’s law, and we have to correct that misimpression,” Mark Bohr, Intel’s technology and manufacturing group senior fellow and director of process architecture and integration, says in an interview. “And number two, Intel has developed some pretty compelling technologies … that not only prove that Moore’s law is still alive, but that it’s going to continue to provide the best benefits of density, cost performance, and power.” But while Moore’s law soldiers on, it’s no longer associated with the types of performance gains Intel was making 10 to 20 years ago. The practical benefits of Moore’s law are not what they used to be. […] For each new generation of microprocessor, Intel used to adhere to a two-step cycle, called the “tick-tock.” The “tick” is where Moore’s law takes effect, using a new manufacturing process to shrink the size of each transistor and pack more of them onto a chip. The subsequent “tock” introduces a new microarchitecture, which yields further performance improvements by optimizing how the chip carries out instructions. Intel would typically go through this cycle once every two years. But in recent years, shrinking the size of transistors has become more challenging, and in 2016, Intel made a major change. The latest 14 nm process added a third “optimization” step after the architectural change, with modest performance improvements and new features such as 4K HDR video support. And in January, Intel said it would add a fourth optimization step, stretching the cycle out even further. The move to a 10 nm process won’t happen until the second half of 2017, three years after the last “tick,” and Intel expects the new four-step process to repeat itself. This “hyper scaling” allows computing power to continue to increase while needing fewer changes in the manufacturing process. If you divide the number of transistors in Intel’s current tick by the surface area of two common logic cells, the rate of improvement still equals out to more than double every two years, keeping Moore’s law on track. “Yes, they’ve taken longer, but we’ve taken bigger steps,” Bohr said during his three-hour presentation.
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