So, first off we have to go over some background on how modern computers work. Modern computers run of the transistors. Transistors are essentially tiny switches the can be flipped on or off by the use of electricity. If you want to read more about transistors i’ll put a link here. A microprocessor is basically a series of these transistors arranged in a way so as to be able to compute mathematical problems. The Arrangement is vital of course, and is a very large field of study we call Microprocessor architecture. But just as important is the links between and making up these arrangements of transistors, call “bus” lanes or just bus. When computers were starting to be develop in the 70’s, they usually took up a entire room or hundreds if not thousands of square feet. This is due to the fact that in that time period and computer development computers used vacuum tubes. But thanks to the hard work of computer, material, electrical scientist and engineers we can not fit all that power onto our wrists. They did this by using semiconductors (a material that can conduct electricity under specific conditions ) and lasers/light to draw the microarchitecture onto these semiconductors.
Since the late 80’s Intel have released major cpu products in and “Tick, Tock” fashion. “Tick” being a major upgrade to the processor like a die shrink. A die is essentially the arrangement of buses and gates (transistors). “Tock” usually being a architecture refresh. Tock refresh usually involving adding features and refining the architecture. Tock upgrades usually involve the removing space in between blocks of transistors and crating more efficient paths for the electrons to flow. You can read more here. Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore famously stated computer processing power will double every 18 months due to this “die shrinking”. Moore’s law has essentially held true until recently. The problem is once you reach the dies sizes around 10 nanometers electrons stop flowing nicely in their bus lanes and skipping over into others. This causes errors in computation, so essentially we see a stop to moore’s law. Which leads us to the end or at least the slow down of the “tick” process of shrinking die sizes.
Scientist and engineers are hard at work at finding solutions to shrink Die sizes even more. They have been using 3 dimensional architecture and exotic for of lasers to guide electrons even better. We can see from intel that they have stopped releasing yearly die shrinks around 14 nanometers (aka broadwell architecture) first release in september ninth 2014. Their processing architectures Sky Lake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake have all been made with their 14 nanometer architecture. The next “tick” is their Cannon Lake architure which was supposed to be release in 2016 has been delayed till 2019.
What does this mean to the modern consumer? Well the pros of slower ticks are slower update cycles. That means consumers won’t have to buy a new product every few years. The cons are their device will stop getting more powerful or small as quickly.