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


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  • FujiT - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    Some if you just don't get it.

    It's not about whether or not it can play crysis with 100 FPS and it's not as much about whether it can compete with AMD/nVidia (although that's important too).

    I see this chip as a beginning of a new revolution in computing. It reminds me a lot of a cell processor (although i don't know that much about architecture) where a smarter CPU will tell the dumber CPUs what to do. The ability to have a many core CPU with a mixture of really smart and dumber, but FP optimized cores will really make stuff like rendering a lot faster on a CPU, and would take programs such as F@H to the next level. The added perk is the fact that it's all x86 as anand pointed out.
  • DerekWilson - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    this is a pretty good observation ...

    but no matter how much potential it has, performance in games is going to be the thing that actually makes or breaks it. it's of no use to anyone if no one buys it. and no one is going to buy it because of potential -- it's all about whether or not they can deliver on game performance.
  • Griswold - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    Well, it seems you dont get it either. Reply
  • helms - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    I decided to check out the development of this game I heard about ages ago that seemed pretty unique not only the game but the game engine for it. Going to the website it seems Intel acquired them at the end of February.">">

    I wonder how significant this is.
  • iwodo - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    I forgot to ask, how will the Software Render works out on Mac? Since all Direct X code are run to Software renderer doesn't that fundamentally mean most of the current Windows based games could be run on Mac with little work? Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    Not really. Larrabee will be translating directx to its software renderer. But unless Microsoft ports the directX API to OSX, there will be nothing for Larrabee to translate. Reply
  • Aethelwolf - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    I wonder if game devs can write their games in directx then have the software renderer convert it into larrabee's ISA on windows platform, capturing the binary somehow. Distribute the directx on windows and the software ISA for mac. No need for two separate code paths. Reply
  • iwodo - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    If anyone can just point out the assumption anand make are false? Then it would be great, because what he is saying is simply too good to be true.

    One point to mention the 4Mb Cache takes up nearly 50% of the die size. So if intel could rely more on bandwidth and saving on cache they could put in a few more core.

    And am i the only one who think 2010 is far away from Introduction. I think 2009 summer seems like a much better time. Then they will have another 6 - 8 months before they move on to 32nm with higher clock speed.

    And for the Game developers, with the cash intel have, 10 Million for every high profile studio like Blizzard, 50 Million to EA to optimize for Intel. It would only cost them 100 million of pocket money.
  • ZootyGray - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    I was thinking of all the p90's I threw away - could have made a cpu sandwich, with a lil peanut software butter, and had this tower of babel thing sticking out the side of the case with a fan on top, called lazarus, or something - such an opportunity to utilize all that old tek - such imagery.

    griswold u r funny :)
  • Griswold - Monday, August 4, 2008 - link

    You definitely are confused. Time for a nap. Reply

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