At the Intel Developer Forum 2011 in San Francisco today, Intel announced that it has reached a “line-of-sight” position with regards to its next-generation transistor technology. After moving from a 90nm process early last decade to a 22nm process launching early next year, the company seems confident of its path to 14nm in the coming years. In fact, the CEO stated that Intel is already “beginning to tool factories to support it.”
The current plan involves migrating technologies to take advantage of the most recent “3D transistors” that are built into the Ivy Bridge platform scheduled for launch some time in the beginning of 2012. Later in 2013, Intel is promising to introduce the next-generation CPU microarchitecture in the form of the platform codenamed Haswell.
Migrating to Haswell falls in line with Intel’s traditional (since 2007, at least) “tick-tock” method of introducing new architectures. On a tick, the company performs a die-shrinking of the current microprocessor architecture and moves it onto a new manufacturing process. As an example, the upcoming move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge will be one of these ‘tick’ moves.
Tock is a bit more striking – it involves pushing Intel onto a completely new microarchitecture. The introduction of the Core platform was just such a ‘tock’ introduction, as well as the 2013’s introduction of Haswell.
Details were scarce as to what the transitions of Haswell or the future 14nm process might entail. The company did promise that Haswell would deliver substantial power savings over current generation hardware. It is important to remember that a savings of 10% would be substantial when it comes to how these chips use power. Intel is estimating that Haswell will show a savings of 30% connected power use, but that isn’t all.
In terms of overall platform power use, Intel CEO Paul Otellini claims that the 2013 Haswell launch has the potential to reduce connected platform power draw by an incredible twenty times. While many might assume that such improvements will only bear fruit for mobility efforts such as notebooks, ultrabooks and tablets; desktops and servers will enjoy such improvements as well. A desktop that today generates copious amounts of heat might run cool and silent by 2015. Additionally, data centers that spend thousands of dollars per month on cooling could offer the same level of computational performance without the need for all the A/C.