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Intel aims x86 at GPU market

Aug 4, 2008 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Intel says it will “target the personal computer graphics market” as early as next year with a new chip employing multiple Pentium-based cores. “Larrabee” offers claimed support for DirectX and OpenGL, and may compete with the discrete graphics processing units (GPUs) offered by AMD/ATI and Nvidia.

Details of the architecture, code-named Larrabee, are detailed more fully at a paper the company plans to present next week at the Association for Computing Machinery's SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles. But — while it kept a lid on exactly how many x86 cores Larrabee-based chips will ultimately sport — Intel reportedly provided some highlights for journalists at a briefing last week.

“It looks like a GPU and acts like a GPU, but actually what it's doing is introducing a large number of x86 cores into your PC,” Intel spokesperson Nick Knupffer said, according to Cnet.com. Intel also presented a graph showing how Larrabee's performance ramped up linearly as the number of cores was increased from eight to 48.

According to a fact sheet on Intel's web site, Larrabee will offer the following features:

  • A pipeline derived from the dual-issue Pentium processor, but with significant modern enhancements such as a wide vector processing unit (VPU), multi-threading, 64-bit extensions, and sophisticated pre-fetching
  • A select few fixed function logic blocks to support graphics and other applications
  • A coherent on-die second-level cache, allowing efficient inter-processor communication and high-bandwidth local data to be accessed by CPU cores, making the writing of software programs simpler
  • A native programming model supporting a variety of highly parallel applications, including those that use irregular data structures
  • Task scheduling that is performed entirely with software, rather than in fixed function logic, so rendering pipelines and other complex software systems can readily adjust their resource scheduling
  • Four execution threads per core with separate register sets per thread, said to allow the use of a simple efficient in-order pipeline, while retaining many of the latency-hiding benefits of more complex out-of-order pipelines when running highly parallel applications
  • A 1024 bits-wide, bi-directional ring network, for “super fast” communication between cores
  • Full support for IEEE standards for single and double precision floating-point arithmetic
  • Support for the industry-standard DirectX and OpenGL APIs (application programming interfaces)

Further information

For more details on Larrabee, see coverage on our sister site eWEEK.com, here. The paper, “Larrabee: A Many-core x86 Architecture for Visual Computing,” is apparently now available to ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) members at the organization's website, here.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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