Sources at Intel earlier this week were careful to give the IT Examiner a lengthy briefing about “Larrabee”.
Of course, this multi core strategy has grabbed the media’s attention because it apparently sets up Intel against Nvidia and AMD-ATI, but the chip giant wants us to not necessarily think that’s all there is to Larrabee.
With multiple X86 cores on a discrete graphics card, it’s possible to do all sorts of powerful things that can’t be achieved by separate graphics processor units. It doesn’t even particularly matter if one or two cores “go west”, because there will be enough slack in the rest of the silicon to fill in the missing holes.
The big question is how these multiple cores in Larrabee will be implemented, and some of those questions are answered by an article we wrote earlier this week about the efforts of the Terascale lab at Intel.
It appears that one of the reasons that Intel is pushing for a graphics card implementation of Larrabee is because that is actually one of the easier applications to implement, particularly on the ray tracing front. But our Intel source seemed to be suggesting that the graphics implementation was, in some senses, proof of the general concept. True, to some extent it will upset Nvidia and of course AMD, but that appears to be a side effect compared to the overall “vision” of a heap of X86 cores all churning away at different tasks and getting lots of things done at once.
Now, unfortunately for me, I was around during the introduction of first the 8086, then the 286 and the 386 processor – naturally all the subsequent ones too. Intel held out great promise for both the 286 and the 386 but in the end was stymied by, we believe, limitations in the operating system, that being an MS based OS.
Yeah, sure OS/2 was around a little later on, but don’t forget that was called IBM-Microsoft OS/2 and Presentation Manager, and Big Blue was too myopic to see that once it had allowed Redmond into the equation, it was going to wriggle like a worm on a hook.
At that point, Intel didn’t care but right now Chipzilla has just got to care. And that at a time when the chip giant hasn’t got as much weight to throw about. X