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Larry Seiler and Stephen Junkins Speak at Intel Larrabee Brief  (Source: News.com)
Intel will begin sampling Larrabee in 2008 with products on market in 2009 or 2010

Today there are three main players in the graphics market producing hardware -- Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA. As the market stands right now, only AMD and NVIDIA manufacture discrete graphics cards with Intel sticking exclusively to on-board graphics that are common on the vast majority of notebook and desktop computers in the low and mid-range market.

Intel is looking to change that and will be bringing its own discrete products to market at some point. The discrete graphics cards from Intel will use the Larrabee architecture and according to eWeek; discrete graphics cards using the Larrabee architecture won’t be available until 2009 or 2010. EWeek does say that Intel will be sampling Larrabee in 2008.

Intel has begun talking about the Larrabee architecture and naturally, it feels that Larrabee is the best architecture out there. What makes Intel so enthused by its architecture is that the Larrabee core is based on the Pentium CPU and uses x86 cores. The use of x86 cores means that programmers and game developers can use the familiar programming languages -- like C and C++ -- that have been in use for a number of years, rather than having to learn a new programming language like NVIDIA's CUDA.

Intel says that its Larrabee is a many-core processor and eWeek reports that it will likely containing ten or more individual x86 processor cores inside the silicon package. Discrete graphics cards using the Larrabee architecture will initially be aimed at the gaming market. That means Intel is directly targeting AMD and NVIDIA with Larrabee.

Intel says Larrabee will support both DirectX and OpenGL APIs and it is encouraging developers to design new and graphic intense applications for the architecture. Larrabee will also bring a new era in parallel computing with developers being able to write applications for it using C and C++ programming languages.

Intel has combined the throughput of a CPU with the parallel programming ability of a GPU. Intel says that Larrabee will also contain vector-processing units to enhance the performance of graphics and video applications. The x86 cores feature short instructional pipelines and can support four execution threads with each core. Each core can also support a register set to help with memory. The short instructional pipeline allows faster access to L1 cache with each core.

Intel says that all cores on Larrabee will share access to a large L2 cache partitioned for each of the cores. The arrangement of the Larrabee architecture allows it to maintain an efficient in-order pipeline, yet allows the processor some benefits of an out-of-order processor to help with parallel applications. Communication between all of the Larrabee cores will be enhanced by using what Intel calls a bidirectional ring network.

Larry Seiler from Intel says, "What the graphics and general data parallel application market needs is an architecture that provides the full programming abilities of a CPU, the full capabilities of a CPU together with the parallelism that is inherent in graphics processors. Larrabee provides [that] and it's a practical solution to the limitations of current graphics processors."

According to News.com, one Intel slide shows that the performance of the Larrabee architecture scales linearly with four cores offering twice the performance of two cores. According to News.com core counts for Larrabee will range from 8 to 48 -- the exact core count for the Larrabee architecture is unknown at this time.



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By iocedmyself on 8/5/2008 8:57:59 AM , Rating: 1
Ah yes, my mistake i thought i had read the claim of 16 flops/clock but have looked at 4 or 5 articles on larrabee and couldn't verify. But really, still not very impressive. 32 cores is certainly better than 48, but it still doesn't compare to 1.

Up to 16 flops/sec leaves a whole lot of wiggle room, it's like those 1x - 16x dvd-r discs, sure you may have a burner that can write at 20x, but with that type of media you often have to endure speeds of 4x up to a peak of 8x.

Theorhetical performance doesn't mean dick, it's the common intel marketing practice that has often times translated into

"well, this one time while running a specialized application that was highly optimized for our hardware platform we acheived that performance, so it's technically true and looks alot better than the average performance of about 1/3 the speed"

when they release the baseline perhaps it will be more impressive, but even then it still falls far short of any kind of milestone.

Anything can look great on paper, and once you have the outline in front of you it's quite easy to start creating theoretical config's, clocks and performance numbers. though i did read something about the forthcoming SIGGRAPH paper quotes performance at

single-threaded performance of one of Larrabee's cores is roughly half that of a "Core 2" core, while the overall performance per watt of a Larrabee chip is 20× better than a Core 2 Duo chip"

Which could translate into anything from 2.5 - 12 Gflop/sec per core.. which is 80 - 384 GFlop/sec on a 32core package in single thread, with power consumption somewhere between 3 and 4 watters per core, which puts the 32 core discrete gpu at 96-128w TDP.

The fact that it won't be based off core 2 arch isn't a strong selling point when it's really the only decent arch they've launched in this century. Especially considering that the larrabee will in fact have x86-64 extensions, which will either be added as a marketing feature that never gets used, or could likely create loads of problems since...it's not intel's code.

It's always possible it could end up being a huge success, though it's about as likely as the bible being revised to include evolution.


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