With the arrival of AMD's Ryzen, many are wondering how Intel will react to a new surge in competition in the x86 processor market. For years, Intel held the undisputed performance crown and many enthusiasts have grown tired of the chip giant's incremental updates that did not push performance upwards as fast as hoped.
In an interview with PC World, Venkata Renduchintala, president of Intel’s Client and Internet of Things businesses and its Systems Architecture Group, said his company is changing its approach to PC chip upgrades.
Transitions to smaller process nodes will be somewhat downplayed, instead the chip giant will focus on a new model that delivers "a yearly cadence of platform upgrade that actually gives meaningful performance improvements from the generation that preceded it."
“We’re going to be focused more on the generation by the amount of performance increment it will give us,” said Venkata Renduchintala, president of Intel’s Client and Internet of Things businesses and its Systems Architecture Group. “I don’t think generations will be tagged to node transitions.”
The performance benefits will matter more, and the process technology that lives underneath is going to be less conspicuous, Renduchintala said.
“We can translate that into more predictable cadence of product, which delivers meaningful performance to stimulate PC upgrades,” Renduchintala said.
Renduchintala also revealed that Intel hasn't decided yet whether the upcoming 10nm Cannonlake processors, which are expected in the second half of 2017, will be part of the 8th Generation Core processors or a new series.
In the past, Intel followed a tick-tock model, the tock represented a new architecture whereas the tick was a shrink of that architecture to a smaller process node. With the 14nm node, Intel's tick-tock model came to an end as the company struggled to keep up the same pace as in the past.
Kaby Lake became the third 14nm product and later this year Intel will launch a fourth 14nm chip called Coffee Lake, which will be marketed as the 8th Gen Core.
There will be parallel shipments of new 10nm and new 14nm chips later this year so it will be interesting if Intel calls both chips 8th Gen or whether the 10nm parts will adopt 9th Gen branding. Both products are expected to ship in the second half of 2017 and it seems Intel's marketing hasn't figured out yet how to handle this mess. We don't know a lot about Coffee Lake, other than Intel's claim that it will offer performance gains in excess of 15 percent versus the current Kaby Lake generation.
The PC World article also suggests there will likely be three or perhaps even four generations of chips on the 10nm node before Intel moves to 7nm, and that Intel will prioritize its server lineup over the consumer series. The former will be getting the first shot at upgrades.