Intel's Larrabee Architecture Disclosure: A Calculated First Moveby Anand Lal Shimpi & Derek Wilson on August 4, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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Oooh this is dangerous.
It started with Intel quietly (but not too quietly) informing many in the industry of its plans to enter the graphics market with something called Larrabee.
NVIDIA responded by quietly (but not too quietly) criticizing the nonexistant Larrabee.
What we've seen for the past several months has been little more than jabs thrown back and forth, admittedly with NVIDIA being a little more public with its swings. Today is a big day, without discussing competing architectures, Intel is publicly unveiling, for the first time, the basis of its Larrabee GPU architecture.
Well, it is important to keep in mind that this is first and foremost NOT a GPU. It's a CPU. A many-core CPU that is optimized for data-parallel processing. What's the difference? Well, there is very little fixed function hardware, and the hardware is targeted to run general purpose code as easily as possible. The bottom lines is that Intel can make this very wide many-core CPU look like a GPU by implementing software libraries to handle DirectX and OpenGL.
It's not quite emulating a GPU as it is directly implementing functionality on a data-parallel CPU that would normally be done on dedicated hardware. And developers will not be limited to just DirectX and OpenGL: this hardware can take pure software renderers and run them as if the hardware was designed specifically for that code.
There is quite a bit here, so let's just jump right in.