If you want our take on the architecture that is Intel’s Larrabee, and what benefits and challenges it has to address, check out our most recent article on the topic.
Intel already dominates the market for integrated graphics silicon: graphics functions integrated into Intel chipsets come virtually free on tens of millions of PCs shipped worldwide every year, an offer that many PC vendors find hard to refuse. The resulting less expensive PCs are, in turn, welcomed by consumers.
But the discrete graphics market is different creature. It is dominated by Nvidia and AMD’s ATI graphics chip unit. Both companies supply chips that easily rival–or best–any Intel chip in complexity. Nvidia’s latest chip, the GTX 280, boasts 1.4 billion transistors and 240 stream processors. In short, it is an extremely complex parallel-computing engine.
“Intel claims Larrabee is a graphics engine intended to outperform Nvidia’s GPU offerings. The audacity of this claim is startling,” according to a report issued by Ashok Kumar, an analyst at investment bank Collins Stewart. “Nvidia has had over 10 years to optimize the 3D graphics pipeline, the necessary drivers, the platform connections needed to supply the memory bandwidth required, and to work with the software and apps developers,” he writes. (Note: Kumar started coverage of Intel at Collins Stewart on September 4 with a “buy” rating.)