Larrabee, Not Dead in the Strictest Sense

In a previous post, I said that Larrabee was dead. That post had some details about why I thought Larrabee wouldn’t have success as more revisions of the HW came out. As a response to that, a co-worker sent me this article which is an analysis of why Intel won’t buy NVIDIA. I wholly agree with the thesis of the argument. Intel won’t buy NVIDIA. However, there are a couple of reasons given in the article that I should cite here:

  • Larrabee isn’t dead. There will be successors to the v1 hardware.
  • Intel views x86 as the superior architecture and puts GPU architecture in general in a camp of things that will fade away.
  • Intel doesn’t see a future for SIMD GPU design. (i.e., It doesn’t do MIMD.)

Based on those points, one can see why Intel would continue to pursue Larrabee. SIMD programming is hard. It’s a waiting game until x86 outpaces SIMD GPUs in terms of utility, and Intel has deep pockets. In this regard, Larrabee isn’t dead. However, I think the timeframe is important. Will Larrabee outpace GPUs in the next 3 years? 5 year? 10 years? When I look at how things are shaping up, I don’t see it happening in the next 5 years. If that doesn’t happen, then Larrabee misses the console cycle which delays things a few more years at minimum just because so many developers will focus on the consoles.

When I say Larrabee is dead, I really mean it from the perspective of someone developing game technology and the perspective of what we’ll need to target for our next two or three revisions of technology. I don’t see Larrabee as an integral part of that vision. I see the next round of consoles, and PCs for that matter, adding some more CPU cores, continuing to have shared or largely shared memory, and having a wealth of spare SIMD compute power. Thinking about it, that would actually make for a good post to write up my logic on that. I don’t have the time right now, but check back.



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