The Future of Larrabee: The Many Core Era

I keep going back to this slide because it really tells us where Intel sees its architectures going:

Today we're in the era of the multi-core array. Next year, Nehalem will bring us 8-cores on a single chip and it's conceivable that we'll see 10 and 12 core versions in the two years following it. Larrabee isn't actually on this chart, it remains separate until we hit the heterogeneous multi-threaded cores (the last two items on the evolutionary path).

It looks like future Intel desktop chips will be a mixture of these large Nehalem-like cores surrounded by tons of little Larrabee-like cores. Your future CPUs will be capable of handling whatever is thrown at them, whether that is traditional single-threaded desktop applications, 3D games, physics or other highly parallelizable workloads. It also paints an interesting picture of the future - with proper OS support, all you'd need for a gaming system would be a single Larrabee, you wouldn't need a traditional x86 CPU.

This future is a long time from now, but just as Pentium M eventually evolved into the future of desktop microprocessors from Intel today, keep an eye on Larrabee, because in 5 years it could be behind what you're running everything on.

Changing the Way GPUs Are Launched?

Here's an interesting thought. By the time Larrabee rolls out in 2009/2010, Intel's 45nm process will have been able to reach maturity. It's very possible that Intel could launch Larrabee much like it does its CPUs, with many SKUs covering a broad range of market segments. Intel could decide to launch $199 all the way up to $999 Larrabee parts, instead of the more traditional single GPU launch (perhaps with two SKUs) and waiting months before the technology trickles down to the mainstream.

Intel could take the GPU industry by storm and get Larrabee out into the wild quicker if it launched top to bottom, akin to how its CPU introductions work.

Shading Tiles with Larrabee (With Extra Goodies) Things That Could Go Wrong


View All Comments

  • bigboxes - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    What are you talking about? It's been nothing but good news for AMD lately. Sure, let Intel sink a lot of $$ into graphics. Sounds like a win for AMD (in a roundabout way). It's like AMD investing into a graphics maker (ATI) instead of concentrating on what makes them great. Most of the Intel supporters were all over AMD for making that decision. Turn this around and watch Intel invest heavily into graphics and it's a grand slam. I guess it's all about perspective. :) Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    You seem to be confused. Time for a nap. Reply
  • MDme - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    but AMD will have Cinema 2.0. did you see that demo? by 2010, AMD will have the RV990 or whatever...and Nvidia will have GT400? Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    Considering how long it took nVidia to release a single GPU significantly faster than G80, I'd be shocked if we wee GT300 by 2009/2010. however a GTX 295GT X2 ULTRA OC is not out of the question ;) Reply
  • shuffle2 - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    mm², how hard is that to write? >.> Reply
  • 1prophet - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    They need to hit one out of the park with the drivers (software)as well. Reply
  • jltate - Tuesday, August 5, 2008 - link

    I've got a bunch of comments, so I'll just list them all here.

    SSE doesn't have fused multiply-add operations. Larrabee does -- thus that 10 core processor could perform a peak of 320 floating point operations per cycle (it's mentioned in the SIGGRAPH paper).

    Larrabee's programming model is variable width -- the hardware can and likely will be augmented in the future to perform more than just 16 operations in parallel.

    The ring bus between cores was stated to be for each group of 16. Intel stated that for more than 16 cores they'd use "multiple short-linked rings".

    Also, the diagram only shows one memory controller on one side with fixed function logic on the other, not two memory controllers as you showed on page 5 of your article. However, Intel stated in the paper that the configuration and number of processors, fixed function blocks and I/O controllers would be implementation dependent. So in effect it could very well have a half-dozen 64-bit interfaces like G80.

    My forecast? This thing will rock. I for one simply cannot wait.
  • Laura Wilson - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    that's the truth

    they say they know this. it sounds like they know this ... we'll see what happens :-)
  • gigahertz20 - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    I'm going to predict Larrabee will provide a huge boost of performance over Intel's current crappy integrated graphic solutions, but will not be able to compete with AMD/ATI's and Nvidia's high end GPU's when it (Larrabee) finally launches. If Intel can deliver a monster that can push 100+ FPS in Crysis and doesn't cost so much that it breaks the bank like the current Nvidia GTX 280's, then they will have a real winner! When it finally launches though, who knows what AMD/ATI and Nvidia will have out to compete against it, wonder if Intel is just trying to push out a mainstream chip or go high end as well...guess I need to read the rest of the article :) Reply
  • JEDIYoda - Tuesday, August 5, 2008 - link

    dreaming again huh??? you people who want top notch performance without having to pay for it....rofl..hahaha Reply

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