Work at the Intel Visual Computing Institute could lead to a UI as seen in Minority Report

The best the competition can do, according to Intel

Larrabee graphics, according to Intel
Intel is thinking long-term with its "Larrabee" strategy

Intel Corporation will invest $12 million over the next five years into the new Intel Visual Computing Institute which opened yesterday. Located at Saarland University in
Saarbrücken, Germany, the Institute is Intel's largest collaboration project with a European university.

The Intel Visual Computing Institute is a new research center that will explore advanced graphics and visual computing technologies. Visual computing is the analysis, enhancement, and display of visual information to create real-time, realistic imagery that enhances interactivity with computers and other devices. Anti-aliasing can be thought of as an application of visual computing, as are advanced holographic display systems.

Most applications include games, but interactive three-dimensional data models used for scientific research, geology, financial services, and medical imaging are increasingly being explored. Intel's visual computing vision is "to realize computer applications that look real, act real and feel real". New visual computing and parallel computing algorithms are needed to achieve this vision.

The lab will conduct basic and applied research in interactive computer graphics and realistic user interfaces. One of the major foci of research will be Intel's terascale program, which examines how multiple computing cores can be used to produce higher-performance computing and life-like graphics. This will help Intel with development of its Larrabee x86 many-core GPU and its follow-on products, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2010 and built using a 45nm process. Although the first Larrabee products are expected to use up to 32 cores, a faster version built on Intel's 32nm process could feature up to 64 cores.

"Intel has collaborated with the world-class researchers at Saarland University in visual computing for a number of years," said Justin Rattner, Intel Senior Fellow and Chief Technology Officer. "Given the growing importance of visual computing technology, it made perfect sense to expand our relationship and form this new institute. We are confident that it will become an internationally recognized center and a driver for European leadership in the visual computing field."

The institute will employ a dozen researchers by the end of this year from a diverse group including Saarland University, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Intel wants to expand that group to sixty researchers over the next five years as Larrabee and its follow-on products start to appear.
One of the Institute's goals is to actively solicit other academic and industry partners to join the research activities over time. It will also partner with Intel's European hardware design labs in Barcelona, Spain and Braunschweig, Germany to optimize Larrabee designs. 
New software tools and driver-based optimizations are also expected to come out of the research at the Institute. This will be important for Larrabee, since Z-buffering, clipping, and blending will be done in software using a tile-based rendering approach. Order-independent transparency, irregular Z-buffering, and real-time ray tracing are also rendering features that could be implemented with Larrabee, but would require a lot of software development.

The Intel Visual Computing Institute will become a part of Intel Labs Europe (ILE). Formally opened on March 2, 2009, the Munich-based organization represents Intel's European lab network, consisting of 19 labs that employ more than 800 research professionals.

The Director of Intel Labs Europe is currently Professor Martin Curley, Professor of Technology and Business Innovation at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is also the Global Director of IT Innovation at Intel. The company has five research labs located in Ireland, as well as Fab 24.

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