Tick Tock – Fuelling the customer experience through processing power
Over three billion people worldwide are using computing devices today, and this figure is consistently rising. Computers are playing an increasingly significant role in our lives, and every year they’re getting faster and more powerful, addressing consumer needs at all levels. But what is driving these developments and how can we ensure we keep up with end-user demands?
Increasing processing power
Moore’s Law states that the density of transistors in an integrated circuit, or (micro)chip, doubles roughly every two years (figure 1). In essence, transistors switch small electric currents into larger ones, so you can imagine what happens when you put billions of them together. This is why we have the incredible compute capability and processing speed we see in microprocessors today.
Using the ‘Tick Tock’ mantra to improve the end-user experience
Intel provides microprocessors, and we’re working with them to ensure the development process consistently improves the end-user experience. My role in this involves running a series of tests, ranging from pure performance-based testing of the central processing unit (CPU), to looking at input/output, 3D graphics, memory, image filters and more, leading to an overall score for each system. Using a testing methodology combining many factors is important: what good is processing power alone if people don’t need it? Because of the transistor density available today, we are able to have both – hugely powerful devices that live up to the expectations of increasingly digital consumers, such as servers, desktop workstations, laptops, tablets, smartphones and Ultrabooks.
Depending on personal requirements, some individuals will require more capabilities and processing power than others. In computing, there are three distinct types of requirement: executive or highly mobile worker, mainstream and workstation. For executive, the CXO needs access, mobility and security from their device – mainly to communicate, i.e. send e-mails, monitor dashboard metrics and access back-end data centers from anywhere in the world. At the other end, the engineering or analyst workstation user is typically more stationary, using much more of the compute power when it comes to applications and workloads. With recent developments in compute capabilities such as the Ultrabooks, the lines are becoming blurred. With the ever increasing demand to use computers in mobile environments we will continue to see new platforms and new applications tested as they enter the market.
Fig. 2 - The three types of user devices: scores on performance, power and user experience
To ensure developments being made are in line with customer feedback, Intel typically releases one to two new processors per year based on their ‘Tick Tock mantra’. Here, the ‘Tick’ brings in new features and capabilities and the ‘Tock’ takes these features and improves their performance. This Tick Tock mantra is used because it allows a product to be brought to market quickly, without having to wait for all the new features to be 100% tuned at optimal performance levels. By releasing regular updates, through rigorous testing and listening to user feedback, we ensure that the updates are focused on addressing actual customer demand, at a time when it is required.
Forging alliances to bolster expertise
Working closely with Intel gives my team insight into how processors have evolved over the years, and offers us an opportunity to ensure the products are being updated in line with customer requirements. We make recommendations about when it's appropriate to move to the next processor, how it affects compute functions or even the business.
In the global economy, companies benefit from forging alliances to bolster their expertise. When this process allows you to get closer to the client experience, that’s when you know you’ve hit a winner.