How Many Cores in a Larrabee?

Initial estimates put Larrabee at somewhere in the 16 to 32-core range, we figured 32-cores would be a sweetspot (not in the least because Intel's charts and graphs showed diminishing returns over 32 cores) but 24-cores would be more likely for an initial product. Intel however shared some data that made us question all of that.

Remember the design experiment? Intel was able to fit a 10-core Larrabee into the space of a Core 2 Duo die. Given the specs of the Core 2 Duo Intel used (4MB L2 cache), it appears to be a 65nm Conroe/Merom based Core 2 Duo - with a 143 mm^2 die size.

At 143 mm^2, Intel could fit 10 Larrabee-like cores so let's double that. Now we're at 286mm^2 (still smaller than GT200 and about the size of AMD's RV770) and 20-cores. Double that once more and we've got 40-cores and have a 572mm^2 die, virtually the same size as NVIDIA's GT200 but on a 65nm process.

The move to 45nm could scale as well as 50%, but chances are we'll see something closer to 60 - 70% of the die size simply by moving to 45nm (which is the node that Larrabee will be built on). Our 40-core Larrabee is now at ~370mm^2 on 45nm. If Intel wanted to push for a NVIDIA-like die size we could easily see a 64-core Larrabee at launch for the high end, with 24 or 32-core versions aiming at the mainstream. Update: One thing we did not consider here is power limitations. So while Intel may be able to produce a 64-core Larrabee with a GT200-like die-size, such a chip may exceed physical power limitations. It's far more likely that we'll see something in the 16 - 32 core range at 45nm due to power constraints rather than die size constraints.

This is all purely speculation but it's a discussion that was worth having publicly.

Putting it all Together - Return of the Ring Bus Cache and Memory Hierarchy: Architected for Low Latency Operation
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  • NeonFlak - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    "Remember that Larrabee won't ship until sometime in 2009 or 2010, the first chips aren't even back from the fab yet, so not wanting to discuss how many cores Intel will be able to fit on a single Larrabee GPU makes sense. " Reply

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