Larrabee Chip Delayed/Cancelled

The news for the day is that the current hardware version of Larrabee, Intel’s new graphics processor, for the consumer market has been delayed (or cancelled, depending on what you mean by “cancelled”). Intel is not commenting on possible future Larrabee hardware, so the Larrabee project itself exists. I don’t see an official press release (yet) from Intel. The few solid quotes I’ve seen (in CNET) is:

“Larrabee silicon and software development are behind where we hoped to be at this point in the project,” Intel spokesperson Nick Knupffer said Friday. “As a result, our first Larrabee product will not be launched as a standalone discrete graphics product,” he said.

along with this:

Intel would not give a projected date for the Larrabee software development platform and is only saying “next year.”

The Washington Post gives this semi-quote:

Intel now plans its first Larrabee product to be used as a software development platform for both graphic and high performance computing, Knupffer said.

See more from The Inquirer, CNET, ZDNet, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Many more versions via Google News.

In my opinion, Intel has a tough row to hoe: catch up in the field of high-performance graphics, when all they’ve had before is the ~$2 chip low-end GMA series. This series probably has a larger market share in terms of units sold than NVIDIA and AMD GPUs combined (basically, any Intel computer without a GPU card has one), but I assume makes pennies per unit and by its nature is limited in a number of ways. Markets like high-performance computing, which make the most sense for Larrabee (since it appears to have the most flexibility vs. NVIDIA or AMD’s GPUs, e.g. it’s programmable in C++), is a tiny piece of the market compared to “I just want DirectX to run as fast as possible”. The people I know on the Larrabee team are highly competent, so I don’t think the problem was there. I’d love to learn what hurdles were encountered in the areas of design, management, algorithms, resources, etc. Even all the architectural choices of Larrabee are not understood in their particulars (though we have some good guesses), since it’s unreleased. Sadly, we’re unlikely to know most of the story; writing “The Soul of An Unreleased Machine” is not an inspiring tale, though perhaps a fascinating one.

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  1. Mauricio’s avatar

    “when all they’ve had before is the ~$2 chip low-end GMA series”

    Don’t forget the Intel740: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel740

    After I graduated from college, I almost went to work for that group in Orlando. Apparently I chose wisely…

  2. baxissimo’s avatar

    It seems to me more than coincidence that this announcement comes right on the heels of the demonstration of a 48-core “cloud computer on a chip” from another group at Intel. Looks to me as though a part like that is going to be much more appealing to high-perf scientific users than Larrabee. So Larrabee couldn’t even count on big wins in that market.

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