Intel details future -Larrabee- graphics chip


N

NV55

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10005391-64.html


Intel has disclosed details on a chip that will compete directly with
Nvidia and ATI and may take it into unchartered technological and
market-segment waters.

Larrabee will be a stand-alone chip, meaning it will be very different
than the low-end--but widely used--integrated graphics that Intel now
offers as part of the silicon that accompanies its processors. And
Larrabee will be based on the universal Intel x86 architecture.

The first Larrabee product will be "targeted at the personal computer
market," according to Intel. This means the PC gaming market--putting
Nvidia and AMD-ATI directly into Intel's sights. Nvidia and AMD-ATI
currently dominate the market for "discrete" or stand-alone graphics
processing units.

http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20080803/intel-larrabee-2-small.jpg

Larry Seiler (standing, middle), a senior Intel engineer, and Stephen
Junkins (sitting, right), an Intel graphics software architect, speak
at a briefing on Larrabee chip, due in 2009-2010.
(Credit: Brooke Crothers)

As Intel sees it, Larrabee combines the best attributes of a central
processing unit (CPU) with a graphics processor. "The thing we need is
an architecture that combines the full programmability of the CPU with
the kinds of parallelism and other special capabilities of graphics
processors. And that architecture is Larrabee," Larry Seiler, a senior
principal engineer in Intel's Visual Computing Group, said at a
briefing on Larrabee in San Francisco last week.

"It is not a GPU as many have mistakenly described it, but it can do
most graphics functions," Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, said in
an article he posted Friday about Larrabee.

"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," said Intel
spokesperson Nick Knupffer, alluding to the myriad ways Larrabee could
be used beyond just graphics processing. In addition to the PC, high-
performance computing and workstations are two potential markets that
were also mentioned.

Intel describes it in a statement as "the industry's first many-core
x86 Intel architecture." The chipmaker currently offers quad-core
processors and will offer eight-core processors based on its Nehalem
architecture, but Larrabee is expected to have dozens of cores and,
later, possibly hundreds.

The number of cores in each Larrabee chip may vary, according to
market segment. Intel showed a slide with core counts ranging from 8
to 48, claiming performance scales almost linearly as more cores are
added: that is, 16 cores will offer twice the performance of eight
cores.

The individual cores in Larrabee are derived from the Intel Pentium
processor and "then we added 64-bit instructions and multi-threading,"
Seiler said. Each core has 256 kilobytes of level-2 cache allowing the
size of the cache to scale with the total number of cores, according
to Seiler. And application programming interfaces (APIs) such as
Microsoft's DirectX and Apple's Open CL can be tapped. "Larrabee does
not require a special API. Larrabee will excel on standard graphics
APIs," he said. "So existing games will be able to run on Larrabee
products."

So, what is Larrabee's market potential? Today, the graphics chip
market is approaching 400 million units a year and has consolidated
into a handful of suppliers. "And of that population, two suppliers,
ATI and Nvidia, own 98 percent of the discrete GPU business."
according to Peddie.

"And the trend line indicates a flattening to decline in the
business...However, Intel is no light-weight start up, and to enter
the market today a company has to have a major infrastructure, deep IP
(intellectual property), and marketing prowess--Intel has all that and
more," Peddie said.


http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20080803/intel-larrabee-explanation-slide-small.jpg

Larrabee combines aspects of a CPU and GPU
(Credit: Intel)

Though more details will be provided at Siggraph 2008, some key
Larrabee features:

Larrabee programming model: supports a variety of highly parallel
applications, including those that use irregular data structures. This
enables development of graphics APIs, rapid innovation of new graphics
algorithms, and true general purpose computation on the graphics
processor with established PC software development tools.

Software-based scheduling: Larrabee features task scheduling which is
performed entirely with software, rather than in fixed function logic.
Therefore rendering pipelines and other complex software systems can
adjust their resource scheduling based each workload's unique
computing demand.

Execution threads: Larrabee architecture supports four execution
threads per core with separate register sets per thread. This allows
the use of a simple efficient in-order pipeline, but retains many of
the latency-hiding benefits of more complex out-of-order pipelines
when running highly parallel applications.

Ring network: Larrabee uses a 1024 bits-wide, bi-directional ring
network (i.e., 512 bits in each direction) to allow agents to
communicate with each other in low latency manner resulting in super
fast communication between cores.

"A key characteristic of this vector processor is a property we call
being vector complete...You can run 16 pixels in parallel, 16 vertices
in parallel, or 16 more general program indications in parallel,"
Seiler said.
 
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D

Dale E. Pontius

NV55 said:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10005391-64.html


Intel has disclosed details on a chip that will compete directly with
Nvidia and ATI and may take it into unchartered technological and
market-segment waters.

Larrabee will be a stand-alone chip, meaning it will be very different
than the low-end--but widely used--integrated graphics that Intel now
offers as part of the silicon that accompanies its processors. And
Larrabee will be based on the universal Intel x86 architecture.

The first Larrabee product will be "targeted at the personal computer
market," according to Intel. This means the PC gaming market--putting
Nvidia and AMD-ATI directly into Intel's sights. Nvidia and AMD-ATI
currently dominate the market for "discrete" or stand-alone graphics
processing units.

http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20080803/intel-larrabee-2-small.jpg

Larry Seiler (standing, middle), a senior Intel engineer, and Stephen
Junkins (sitting, right), an Intel graphics software architect, speak
at a briefing on Larrabee chip, due in 2009-2010.
(Credit: Brooke Crothers)

As Intel sees it, Larrabee combines the best attributes of a central
processing unit (CPU) with a graphics processor. "The thing we need is
an architecture that combines the full programmability of the CPU with
the kinds of parallelism and other special capabilities of graphics
processors. And that architecture is Larrabee," Larry Seiler, a senior
principal engineer in Intel's Visual Computing Group, said at a
briefing on Larrabee in San Francisco last week.

"It is not a GPU as many have mistakenly described it, but it can do
most graphics functions," Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, said in
an article he posted Friday about Larrabee.

"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," said Intel
spokesperson Nick Knupffer, alluding to the myriad ways Larrabee could
be used beyond just graphics processing. In addition to the PC, high-
performance computing and workstations are two potential markets that
were also mentioned.

Intel describes it in a statement as "the industry's first many-core
x86 Intel architecture." The chipmaker currently offers quad-core
processors and will offer eight-core processors based on its Nehalem
architecture, but Larrabee is expected to have dozens of cores and,
later, possibly hundreds.

The number of cores in each Larrabee chip may vary, according to
market segment. Intel showed a slide with core counts ranging from 8
to 48, claiming performance scales almost linearly as more cores are
added: that is, 16 cores will offer twice the performance of eight
cores.

The individual cores in Larrabee are derived from the Intel Pentium
processor and "then we added 64-bit instructions and multi-threading,"
Seiler said. Each core has 256 kilobytes of level-2 cache allowing the
size of the cache to scale with the total number of cores, according
to Seiler. And application programming interfaces (APIs) such as
Microsoft's DirectX and Apple's Open CL can be tapped. "Larrabee does
not require a special API. Larrabee will excel on standard graphics
APIs," he said. "So existing games will be able to run on Larrabee
products."

So, what is Larrabee's market potential? Today, the graphics chip
market is approaching 400 million units a year and has consolidated
into a handful of suppliers. "And of that population, two suppliers,
ATI and Nvidia, own 98 percent of the discrete GPU business."
according to Peddie.

"And the trend line indicates a flattening to decline in the
business...However, Intel is no light-weight start up, and to enter
the market today a company has to have a major infrastructure, deep IP
(intellectual property), and marketing prowess--Intel has all that and
more," Peddie said.


http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20080803/intel-larrabee-explanation-slide-small.jpg

Larrabee combines aspects of a CPU and GPU
(Credit: Intel)

Though more details will be provided at Siggraph 2008, some key
Larrabee features:

Larrabee programming model: supports a variety of highly parallel
applications, including those that use irregular data structures. This
enables development of graphics APIs, rapid innovation of new graphics
algorithms, and true general purpose computation on the graphics
processor with established PC software development tools.

Software-based scheduling: Larrabee features task scheduling which is
performed entirely with software, rather than in fixed function logic.
Therefore rendering pipelines and other complex software systems can
adjust their resource scheduling based each workload's unique
computing demand.

Execution threads: Larrabee architecture supports four execution
threads per core with separate register sets per thread. This allows
the use of a simple efficient in-order pipeline, but retains many of
the latency-hiding benefits of more complex out-of-order pipelines
when running highly parallel applications.

Ring network: Larrabee uses a 1024 bits-wide, bi-directional ring
network (i.e., 512 bits in each direction) to allow agents to
communicate with each other in low latency manner resulting in super
fast communication between cores.

"A key characteristic of this vector processor is a property we call
being vector complete...You can run 16 pixels in parallel, 16 vertices
in parallel, or 16 more general program indications in parallel,"
Seiler said.

Can anyone over 40 read about this without thinking of "Get Smart"?

D.
 
J

Jack

<snip>

: Can anyone over 40 read about this without thinking of "Get
: Smart"?
:
: D.

Ok Dale, I get it. Sort of like the antics in the "cone of silence",
eh? Too funny! :)

j.
 
R

Robert Myers

Can anyone over 40 read about this without thinking of "Get Smart"?
You have a track record of successful predictions about significant
developments in technology? It's probably not as big as
microcomputers, but the signs are the same: everybody's building one.

I'm way over forty, and I thought I understood microcomputers as soon
as I saw Visi-Calc running on an Apple II. I foresaw that graphics
would gobble cycles and bandwidth essentially forever and that the
most ordinary of users would need it. I missed on Itanium; or rather,
I missed on the value of exploiting predictability. If nothing else,
I'm apparently outnumbered on building "supercomputers" with vanishing
bisection bandwidth (which "scales"--to zero). I've got Larrabee
wrong? Possibly. Why are you so sure of yourself?

Robert.
 
K

krw

You have a track record of successful predictions about significant
developments in technology? It's probably not as big as
microcomputers, but the signs are the same: everybody's building one.

I'm way over forty, and I thought I understood microcomputers as soon
as I saw Visi-Calc running on an Apple II. I foresaw that graphics
would gobble cycles and bandwidth essentially forever and that the
most ordinary of users would need it. I missed on Itanium; or rather,
I missed on the value of exploiting predictability. If nothing else,
I'm apparently outnumbered on building "supercomputers" with vanishing
bisection bandwidth (which "scales"--to zero). I've got Larrabee
wrong? Possibly. Why are you so sure of yourself?

Wwwoooossshhhh!
 
D

Dale E. Pontius

Robert said:
You have a track record of successful predictions about significant
developments in technology? It's probably not as big as
microcomputers, but the signs are the same: everybody's building one.

I'm way over forty, and I thought I understood microcomputers as soon
as I saw Visi-Calc running on an Apple II. I foresaw that graphics
would gobble cycles and bandwidth essentially forever and that the
most ordinary of users would need it. I missed on Itanium; or rather,
I missed on the value of exploiting predictability. If nothing else,
I'm apparently outnumbered on building "supercomputers" with vanishing
bisection bandwidth (which "scales"--to zero). I've got Larrabee
wrong? Possibly. Why are you so sure of yourself?

Robert.
You're reading way the heck too much into this. I'm pretty sure you're
over 40, so evidently unlike me, you didn't watch way too much TV as a
kid. I was making no technology prognostication whatsoever, I was
merely commenting on the code name itself.

The sad thing is that I can't even remember much specifically about the
"Larrabee" character in "Get Smart", but the whole thing was funny.

D.
 
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R

Robert Myers

You're reading way the heck too much into this.  I'm pretty sure you're
over 40, so evidently unlike me, you didn't watch way too much TV as a
kid.  I was making no technology prognostication whatsoever, I was
merely commenting on the code name itself.

The sad thing is that I can't even remember much specifically about the
"Larrabee" character in "Get Smart", but the whole thing was funny.

I'm sorry for misreading the intent of your post. "Get Smart," like
"Man from Uncle" was, among other things, a showcase of stupid
technology tricks. "Get Smart" made the joke obvious. In "Man from
Uncle" the joke was more often on the viewer, as the technological
silliness was pursued with a very straight face.

There are already those who are dismissing larrabee as a stupid
technology trick because manufacturers can't think of anything else to
do with all that cache. The idea of using many much more simple cores
on a chip is at least as old as the mid-nineties.

My apologies for reacting so strongly.

Robert.
 
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R

Robert Myers

There are already those who are dismissing larrabee as a stupid
technology trick because manufacturers can't think of anything else to
do with all that cache.

Should have been "all those transistors." You can, of course, always
expand cache, and there might be at least a few who are wondering why
the manufacturers haven't done that (or added another level of cache).

Robert.
 

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