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Monday, August 06, 2007

Intel : Cadence & The Tick-Tock Model

Intel is coming back - quite impressively. Paul Otellini talks about the tick-tock model, the analogy being a clock, you know, a pendulum, so that every year, there’s something new. The cadence between microarchitecture and the silicon cycle is referred to as the "tick-tock" model . The term "tick-tock" comes from the steady recurrent ticking sound made by a clock. Each "tick" represents the silicon process beat rate, which has a corresponding "tock" representing the design of a new microarchitecture delivered in a cycle approximately every two years. This model minimizes the risk associated with the introduction of new silicon processes and microarchitectures by alternating the focus from silicon to microarchitecture. So every year, something substantial gets better. And it gets better in a big way. And either it gets faster, it gets cheaper, it gets smaller, it gets cooler, it gets more power-efficient. And that really brings the might of Intel to bear on delivering a very predictable cadence into the marketplace. Paul talks about a wide range of issues in the FT interview, with amazing insights. Some excerpts with edits:
On the need to change and the creativity comes from the outside : Intel has multiple teams, not so much in competition with each other, but parallel to each other, being able to implement new ideas. And this model of leapfrogging now, where we use one site to develop a product, and then the next site, you know, jumps on the next product, and the next site. And then they leapfrog each other. They’re building on each other’s cumulative experience. Internal competition is very healthy and as Paul sees it, things get better by competing internally than externall, and have these good ideas come from within.
- Communications as an integral feature to a computer, particularly around platform architectures, is absolutely essential to what we’re doing. And so I tend to look at things from sort of the machine or the user backwards, as opposed to the products outwards.
- Every television in every living room in the world is going to be connected to the internet at some point in time and it’ll happen first in mature countries, and then –and then spread to others. But the internet as a source of content, particularly user-driven content, is emerging.
- Healthcare is ripe for productivity, but it’s also slow to change for a whole bunch of reasons having to do with privacy and infrastructure. So this one is going to be a long – a longer hike than some of the others.
- The products that Intel builds need to consume less and less energy per desk. But we also need to drive the performance up to be able to do more things with computers. And so that’s been the focus of our energy efficiency, particularly – and it’s obvious in handhelds and notebooks
- The new generation of products that intel is designing are carbon negative!!
Read this the Spectrum of Risk Management in a Technology Company
Paul summarizes this : Our business is such that in the digital – particularly in the microprocessor side of the house, you must constantly reinvent yourself. And you know, we have a – if we do the math, almost – you know, 90 percent of the revenue that we get in December of any year is from products that we weren’t shipping in January of the same year. So if you don’t have this constant upgrade cycle, replacement cycle, built into your mindset, not planned obsolescence, but improvement to the point of driving a need for or a desire for someone to upgrade their computer, then there’s no future. And people could just – you know, it’s kind of like if we stopped building at the Pentium or something, and that was the last product we ever built, computers would not have gone any farther, and people wouldn’t be buying new computers, because they wouldn’t do anything new. So this desire to make things better, to improve, is really built into the DNA of the company. And I think has allowed us to embrace change in a very aggressive fashion, which I think is why we’re – we’ve been able to thrive.

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