Intel Larrabee Graphics Cards Integrate 16 Cores

Larrabee cards are expected to make their debut in early 2009

You may still remember those rumors about Intel preparing to invade the dedicated graphics card market. Well, those rumors turn out to be actual grand plans for Intel. The upcoming dedicated GPUs from Intel are codenamed Larrabee and might integrate as much as 16 cores!

It seems that all those 16 cores are no mere GPUs. Instead, they look like x86 'mini-cores' that are interconnected with the use of short pipelines. Leaked information mentions something about four threads per core, amounting to a total of 64 threads for one graphics card. But in order to make this configuration work as a normal GPU, Intel attached a wide-vector unit to provide the needed vector instructions. The complete instruction set is actually derived from current CPU x86 extensions, and are supposed to be more efficient than instruction sets included in present-day GPUs. Because of this, Intel's future GPU could be used as an extension of the main CPU.

The whole idea is to blur the line between CPU and GPU. AMD plans the same thing with its Fusion and FireStream architectures, so, in two years, the first steps towards abandoning classic GPU architectures will storm the market. The concept of CGPU will rise and all this makes sense when you think about AMD buying ATI.

Just recently, Intel has gathered a group of important DRAM vendors at an undisclosed location in Munich, Germany. The main purpose of this meeting was to establish who will provide memory for the upcoming Larrabee discrete graphics solution. Intel is aiming at GDDR5 memory modules in 512 and 1GB capacities. In addition, Larrabee is said to implement the PCIe Gen2 interface, which should boost the performance even more.

Intel is expected to sample its discrete graphics solutions in 2H 2008, and this could integrate memory modules from Micron, Qimonda or Samsung. The release date is planned around Q1 2009.

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