For a nearly ten years now, Intel has been on a “tick-tock” processor design schedule. Intel would release a new manufacturing process, increasing the performance and power—this was the tick. Then it would introduce a new processor architecture that improved the efficiency and added new features—the tock.
Now though, according to The Motley Fool, this model is being scrapped in favor of a new, three-step one. In Intel’s most recent 10-K filing (an annual report to the US Securies and Exchange commission), it states “We expect to lengthen the amount of time we will utilize our 14 [nanometer] and out next-generation 10 [nanometer] process technologies, further optimizing our products and process technologies while meeting the yearly market cadence for product introductions.”
There’s also a handy image to show the differences in the two methodologies.
As pointed out by Legit Reviews, the tick-tock model has already been on the way out. Haswell came as a sort of “semi-tock”, and Intel has announced that Kaby Lake will be “refreshing” Skylake. The previously announced 10-nanometer Cannonlake is coming in 2017, Ice Lake is coming in 2018, and this will be refreshed by Tiger Lake in 2019. So we’re already seeing the new three step method of Process, Architecture, Optimization being put into action.