Intel Larrabee - a GPU with x86 cores

Posted on Friday, Feb 09 2007 @ 20:16 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
The Inq got their hands on lots of details about the Intel Larrabee GPU project. The card will feature 16 x86 mini-cores:
What are those cores? They are not GPUs, they are x86 'mini-cores', basically small dumb in order cores with a staggeringly short pipeline. They also have four threads per core, so a total of 64 threads per "CGPU". To make this work as a GPU, you need instructions, vector instructions, so there is a hugely wide vector unit strapped on to it. The instruction set, an x86 extension for those paying attention, will have a lot of the functionality of a GPU.

What you end up with is a ton of threads running a super-wide vector unit with the controls in x86. You use the same tools to program the GPU as you do the CPU, using the same mnemonics, and the same everything. It also makes things a snap to use the GPU as an extension to the main CPU.

Rather than making the traditional 3D pipeline of putting points in space, connecting them, painting the resultant triangles, and then twiddling them simply faster, Intel is throwing that out the window. Instead you get the tools to do things any way you want, if you can build a better mousetrap, you are more than welcome to do so. Intel will support you there.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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