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Intel moves further away from discrete GPUs

Posted: 28 May 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:graphics processor? Intel GPU? multicore?

Chip giant Intel Corp. has all but abandoned plans to release a high-performance stand-alone graphics processor, but will continue to develop multicore Larrabee architecture for the high-performance computing (HPC) market, the company revealed in a May 26 blog posting.

The company announced in December it would not release the first implementation of Larrabee, originally set for 2010. The move was seen as a win for competitors Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Nvidia Corp.

In Tuesday's blog posting, Intel spokesperson Bill Kircos expanded on the status of Larrabee, saying that Intel, "will not bring a discrete graphics product to market, at least in the short-term." Kircos said the company missed some key product milestones and determined that media and high-definition video, as well as mobile computing, are the important areas to focus on moving forward.

Nathan Brookwood, principal of Insight64, said Intel originally had two goals when it started down the Larrabee path: develop a multicore HPC processor and to deploy the same type of hardware as a high-performance graphics processor. Now it appears Intel is going to focus on the HPC market and never going to use Larrabee to build high-performance, discrete graphics GPUs, he said

"The graphics part turns out to be a distraction," said Brookwood. "The market for high-performance discrete GPUs is a very narrow market and, by any measure, it is shrinking. Why would Intel spend a lot of money to target a market like that?"

Intel remains focused on developing integrated graphics technologies for its processors, Kircos wrote.

The blog also states that Intel intends to introduce a multicore extension of its server product line, derived from Larrabee, at the International Supercomputing Conference in Germany.

According to Brookwood, efforts to continue building high-end GPUs with more and more power now appears to be a losing proposition. Even ATI Technologies, the graphics chip unit of AMD, has backed away from building high-end graphics processors over the past two years, he said. ATI has been targeting the mid-range graphics market and serving the high-end with multiple GPUs, Brookwood said. Only Nvidia is still trying to build "the most humungous GPUs," Brookwood said, suggesting it is "one of the reasons they have struggled" over the past 18 months.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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