Citing delays in both the silicon and software, Intel says the multicore x86 graphics superslab is on hold due to a “reset” of the company’s GPU strategy.
With a raft of new Core processors, the sixth-gen Centrino ‘Calpella’ platform and the shift to 32nm, 2010 looked set to be a bumper year for Intel. But there’s a fly in the ointment – the much-vaunted Larrabee graphics processor has stepped halfway back to the drawing board.
First revealed in 2008, was to deliver a multicore graphics engine built around a new x86 microarchitecture and released as a 3D card for the high-end consumer market – putting Intel in direct competition with ATI and Nvidia.
Looking inside Larrabee: Intel wanted to pack the GPU with multiple processing cores
Larrabee’s unique ‘hybrid’ design mixed elements of both conventional CPU and GPU design and was to be complemented by its own software stack, sitting atop an embedded ‘micro-OS’ operating system baked into the Larrabee card’s on-board memory chip.
Well, that was the plan. But faced with delays in both the Larrabee’s silicon and the associated software, Intel has canned the first-gen Larrabee processor and flicked the ‘reset’ switch on its entire GPU strategy.
“Larrabee silicon and software development are behind where we hoped to be at this point in the project” according to Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer.
“As a result, our first Larrabee product will not be launched as a standalone discrete graphics product. Rather, it will be used as a software development platform for internal and external use.”
As part of the move, Larrabee will be repositioned – at least in the short term – as a ‘test-bed’ platform for developers wanting to play with multicore graphics and possibly high-performance computing applications.
A discrete multicore GPU is still on the roadmap, but it may not be Larrabee – at least, not as we’ve come to know it.