Clarkdale Gets GPGPU Support

Video encoding will be achieved through task distribution among ten graphics engines

General-purpose processing of graphics processing units (GPGPU) is not a capability held by all current central processors. The GPGPU defines the process through which the CPU's tasks are offloaded onto the GPU, allowing the graphics processing unit to perform computations in applications that would normally be handled by the CPU. This operation is useful in that it allows software developers to stream non-graphics data by adding programmable stages and higher precision arithmetic to the rendering pipelines. Intel recently announced that its next-generation graphics circuits, which will be part of the Clarkdale CPU, would include support for GPGPU on video transcoding.

Intel's dual-core CPUs Arrandale and Clarkdale will probably be introduced on the same date, namely January 7. The Clarkdale is a strong processor with integrated graphics circuits that has 4MB of cache memory, dual-channel DDR3 memory controllers and support for the Hyper-Threading technology. Arrandale is essentially the same CPU aimed at mobile platforms. Both chips have a dual-core 32nm-based processor and 45nm node-based graphics and other system logic. Obviously, the central processing units have more than enough versatility of their own, so adding GPGPU support doesn't seem like a very noteworthy development.

Nevertheless, Intel announced that the Clarkdale would be capable of video encoding through a driver update that would allow it to distribute the computing tasks among ten graphics processing engines. This added feature increases the appeal of the upcoming platform and the fact that Intel finally acknowledged the importance of video transcoding through GPGPU might stir the end-users' confidence in the company's future products.

With this feature added to the already performance-packed CPU, one could speculate that general-consumer interest may have become more focused on Intel's upcoming chips. All that remains is to wait for the 2010 Computer Electronics Show in January and keep an eye out for further developments in the meantime.

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