Monday, August 4, 2008
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM
"Intel has disclosed details on a chip that will compete directly with Nvidia and ATI and may take it into unchartered technological and market-segment waters. Larrabee will be a stand-alone chip, meaning it will be very different than the low-end--but widely used--integrated graphics that Intel now offers as part of the silicon that accompanies its processors. And Larrabee will be based on the universal Intel x86 architecture."
I was wondering what Intel was up to, and it seems they're doing what Intel does best: CPU stuff. Larrabee is really going to be a bunch of CPUs on a card, and not a GPU-based solution that early speculation thought it was going to be. CPU's tend to be vastly less efficient at 3D graphics than dedicated GPUs, which is why we've seen the industry adopt dedicated GPUs as the solution of choice for 3D gaming. Intel's approach is quite interesting - one the one hand, it seems foolish to ask a CPU to do a GPU's job. Having eight CPUs on a card might be an expensive, power-hungry approach.
On the other hand, if Larrabee could be leveraged to do other CPU-related tasks (such as video encoding), suddently we have a graphics solution that could have a huge impact on the overall performance of the system. Could you imagine encoding h.264 video, using he proper software, with 12 CPU cores? That would result in some serious performance. I'm really curious about what sort of price points Larrabee is going to come in at, and how easily their cards will function in the computer systems we have today. Looks like we have a while to wait: Larrabee won't hit until 2009 or 2010.