Mac Update Cycle Faces Uncertainty as Intel Abandons Tick-Tock Strategy

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In its latest 10-K annual report (PDF) filed last month, Intel confirmed the end of its long-heralded "tick-tock" strategy of delivering new microprocessors to the market. Intel originally introduced the product cadence to the world in 2006 with the launch of the "Core" microarchitecture, alternating "ticks" of shrinking chip fabrication processes with "tocks" of new architectures.

    Over the past ten years, Intel has successively delivered new processor families based on this tick-tock cycle on a nearly annual cycle from its 65 nm manufacturing node all the way up until recently. The tick-tock release cycle allowed Intel to reestablish dominance in both the consumer and enterprise CPU markets and had given OEMs such as Apple a regular update cycle to rely on for annual product updates. But with chip updates stretching about beyond a yearly cycle in recent generations, Apple's product launch cycles have started to be affected.

    In the face of the difficulties in maintaining the tick-tock cadence, Intel has announced that the launch of Kaby Lake this year as the third member of the 14-nm family following Broadwell and Skylake will mark the official end of the tick-tock strategy. Instead, Intel will move to a new "Process-Architecture-Optimization" model for the current 14 nm node and the 10 nm node.

    This development is not unexpected, as semiconductor foundries have had increasingly tough times creating smaller process nodes as fabrication of smaller transistors has become increasingly expensive and complex. Transistors are rapidly approaching the physical limits of traditional semiconductor geometries, and the famous Moore's Law regarding transistor density has been formally acknowledged to no longer be valid.

    Intel has no doubt moved to this new release model in an attempt to get back to a regular product and platform cadence as it struggles with the technological challenges of bringing new fabrication nodes to volume production. As noted in our Mac Buyer's Guide, many of Apple's Macs have gone without update for the longest time since we began tracking them, though Apple has yet to update to the available Skylake microarchitecture for its Mac line. Some product uncertainty is due to continue as the launch of Intel's Kaby Lake microarchitecture has been recently delayed to the second half of 2016 after Skylake suffered similar setbacks last year.

    Article Link: Mac Update Cycle Faces Uncertainty as Intel Abandons Tick-Tock Strategy
  2. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    less competition

    no competition
  3. SSD-GUY, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

    SSD-GUY macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2012
    London, UK
    Great - Mac's now updated every 2 years, and in the case of the Mac Pro, every decade.
  4. knassar macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2015
    the Cloud
  5. macsrcool1234 macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2010
    ARM needs to step it up and give intel some more competition
  6. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Some of them are already not updated for more than 2 years, for instance the MacPro.
  7. Red Oak macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2011
    Could you imagine if Apple was dependent on Intel for its iOS processors? That would have been a disaster
  8. gugy, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

    gugy macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2005
    La Jolla, CA
    Man, the update cycles for Macs are awful.
    MacPro and Mac Mini are completely forgotten. MBP, iMacs and MacBooks are a bit better but still pretty long.
    Just look at the Mac Buyer's guide on MR and it is pretty depressing.
  9. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Apple-designed processors coming soon to Macs?
  10. natefanaro macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2016
    I call shennagians any time someone tries to directly relate some cpu/gpu chipset to the release of the latest Apple hardware. They consistantly put out new devices with year+ old chips in them.
  11. v0lume4 macrumors 68000


    Jul 28, 2012
    Color me ignorant if I'm wrong here, but will this not help get Macs back on a regular update cycle? Streamlined development process = less delays from Intel = less Mac delays?
  12. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    I'm sure there's no uncertainty about this at the Apple headquarters, seeing as they update some of their systems once every few years, so this won't be a big deal for them.
  13. SMIDG3T Suspended


    Apr 29, 2012
    Slow news day, never seen anything like it on MacRumours.
  14. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    Apple is always behind anyway so it plays in to their strategy.
  15. ghost187 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 18, 2010
    Steve said they considered atom processors for the iPad.
  16. macintologist macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2004
    Maybe Apple is secretly working on a plan to transition macOS to Apple ARM processors.
  17. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    They are getting there. Not quit ready but they are getting there.
  18. LCPepper macrumors 6502


    Aug 5, 2013
    United Kingdom
  19. killawat macrumors 65816

    Sep 11, 2014
    When you see a Mac story on the FP but it's just a technology brief :(
  20. 2457282 Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    The iPad pro with the A10 (or 11 or 12) is starting to look like real competition. Just need to get iOS up to snuff.
  21. ArtOfWarfare, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

    ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    I see three possibilities for Apple:
    - Stay with Intel. Have stagnant product lines.
    - Swap to ARM. Theoretically you might see a performance decrease, but I kind of doubt it... It seems to me that ARM performance has eclipsed low end Intel performance by now, and it's gaining ground on the higher end stuff that Apple uses in the rMBP.
    - End Mac. Move to iOS only. Until they get Xcode on iOS, I don't think it's feasible to end Mac. Unless they want to let Linux or Windows machines start programming iOS devices.
  22. dingclancy23 macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2015
    This is more of a reflection of computers optimizing for battery life and mobility rather than raw compute power. The money and the incentives are in mobile, so the economics of getting a 2x more transistors every 12 months is affected.

    If it weren't for mobile, and all computers are tied to an electric plug, Intel can invest all of its money to the next generation of computers, (quantum etc.), and recoup its investments.

    Now the goal is to get more power savings from the same chip so that you can make your device thinner...
  23. Val-kyrie macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2005
    So the question becomes, When is the best part of the cycle to purchase a Mac--at the shrink, at the introduction of a new architecture, or at the optimization? All have advantages and disadvantages.
  24. magicschoolbus macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2014
    I don't see this as a good move for intel.

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