Things That Could Go Wrong

I had to write this section because as strong as Intel has been executing these past couple of years, we must keep in mind that in the GPU market, Intel isn't only the underdog, it's going up against the undefeated. NVIDIA, the company that walked into 3dfx's house and walked away with its IP, the company who could be out engineered and outperformed by ATI for an entire year and still emerge as dominant. This is Intel's competition, the most Intel-like of all of the manufacturers in the business, and a highly efficient one at that.

Intel may benefit from the use of its advanced manufacturing fabs in making Larrabee, but it is also burdened by them. NVIDIA has been building GPUs, some quite large, without ever investing a dime in building its own manufacturing facility. There's much that could go wrong with Larrabee, the short list follows:

Manufacturing, Design and Yield

Before we get to any of the GPU-specific concerns about Larrabee, there's always the basics when making any chip. There's always the chance that it could be flawed, it might not reach the right clock speeds, deliver the right performance and perhaps not yield well enough. Larrabee has a good chance of being Intel's largest die produced in desktop-like volumes, while Intel is good at manufacturing we can't rule these out as concerns.

Performance

As interesting as Larrabee sounds, it's not going to arrive for another year at least. NVIDIA should have even higher performing parts out by then, making GT200 look feebile by comparison. If Intel can't deliver a real advantage over the best from NVIDIA and AMD, Larrabee won't get very far as little more than a neat architecture.

Drivers and Developer Relations

Intel's driver team now is hardly its strongpoint. On the integrated graphics side we continue to have tons of issues, even as we're testing the new G45 platform we're still bumping into many driver related issues and are hearing, even from within Intel, that the IGP driver team leaves much to be desired. Remember that NVIDIA as a company is made up of mostly software engineers - drivers are paramount to making a GPU successful, and Intel hasn't proved itself.

I asked Intel who was working on the Larrabee drivers, thankfully the current driver team is hard at work on the current IGP platforms and not on Larrabee. Intel has a number of its own software engineers working on Larrabee's drivers, as well as a large team that came over from 3DLabs. It's too early to say whether or not this is a good thing, nor do we have any idea of what Intel's capabilities are from a regression testing standpoint, but architecture or not, drivers can easily decide the winner in the GPU race.

Developer relations are also very important. Remember the NVIDIA/Assassin's Creed/DirectX 10.1 fiasco? NVIDIA's co-marketing campaign with nearly all of the top developers is an incredibly strong force. While Intel has the clout to be able to talk to game developers, we're bound to see the clash of two impossibly strong forces here.

The Future of Larrabee: The Many Core Era and Launch Questions Final Words
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  • erikespo - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    another way to look as it is how man 143mm^2 squares does it take to make up 286mm^2?

    only 2 would only be 143mm x 286mm

    since 10 cores fit into 143 x 143, 20 will fit into 143 x 286mm
    286 x 286 (which is double that of 143 x 286mm) the 286mm^2 would fit 40
    Reply
  • erikespo - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_%28geometry%29">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_%28geometry%29

    helpful page to take you back to first grade

    and excuse my decimal point.. it is 204.49mm total per core or 14.3mm^2
    Reply
  • erikespo - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    Explain.

    lets use smaller numbers for you 2mm^2 is 2mm by 2 mm or 4 total mm

    double that and it is 4mm^2 or 4 mm by 4 mm or 16mm total..

    we are talking about area or 2 dimensions not 1 dimension.

    Same math applies to the article
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    No, you're way off. 2mm² is TWO square millimeters. (a rectangle 1x2 for example). Double that would be 4mm², which could either be 1x4 or 2x2.

    NUMBERmm² doesn't mean NUMBERxNUMBER mm, it means exactly what it says: NUMBER mm².

    Using your smaller numbers: 2mm² is not "4 total mm"; it is TWO mm². Saying it is 4 total mm doesn't even make sense. You _can't_ measure area in millimeters. You measure it in square millimeters, and there are two of them (_2_mm²).

    Here's an mspaint visual (if links work: http://img105.imageshack.us/my.php?image=squaremma...">http://img105.imageshack.us/my.php?image=squaremma...

    You're so sure you're right on this, it's really depressing :(
    Reply
  • darkequitus - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    I did not appriciate the writer creaming over every digital page they wrote. especially when Larrabee's performance is mainl at the moment based on INtel hype and nothing real. Reply
  • ZootyGray - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    THANK YOU.

    Somebody finally said it.

    The others prefer Eutopian illusion - aka the curse aka ntel antitrust. ntel has no grafx and the fools in the public buy "inside' and nvid and ati aren't exactly friends of the curse.

    welcome to the matrix. wakey wakey
    Reply
  • ZootyGray - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    and a 16 pager on maybe might could be should be = wannabe "employ-boy"
    - payday ? hooyeh. This is so disappointing for me. Credibility sags to a new low.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, August 05, 2008 - link

    Someone whose two posts contain about 10 complete words and no complete thoughts says Anandtech's credibility has sagged to a new low? Reply
  • ZootyGray - Tuesday, August 05, 2008 - link

    haha yeh - lots of room for thinking.
    or - if no thinkeez - ya gots der 16 pg inundation (that's a big word like marmalade) all based on nothing-is-real - you like that kind of brainwash? we don't know anything; but here's the tekspex?
    btw - did u get it? the matrix idea? watch the movie. cos here it is. pardon my loaded cryptic literacy.
    thx
    if you don't get it - well, that's what they want - a world of sleeping mob. never mind, that's just my concern.

    Reply
  • The Preacher - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    I don't really care about how good it will be executing some software renderer but I feel it is going to kick ass in scientific calculations. Matrix operations, FFT/convolution, tremendous bandwidth, double precission... I may write C++/x86 assembly code directly for it and I may put this into a rack of servers and use it through MPI. Give me a compiler with vector intrinsic functions for it and my dreams just came true! :) Reply

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