Intel said at its investor meeting that it's going to become a lot more active in the graphics market. The performance of their IGP graphics will be 10x faster in 2010 than in 2006 and the firm will also focus on a discrete graphics chip (Larrabee) and Ray Tracing technology:
The biggest change in the integrated graphics segment will be the move of the graphics cores from the chipset North Bridge into the CPU. It will happen when the inexpensive Nehalem processors also known as Havendale come out in the end of this year – beginning of next. As a result, integrated graphics cores will work faster with the memory subsystem, which will inevitably result into performance improvement for the low- to mid-range PC users. According to the forecasts made at the today’s meeting, by 2009 integrated graphics will work 6 times faster, while by 2010 it will be 10 times faster than in 2006, when the performance standard was set by i965G chipset. This still won't make integrated graphics a good choice for serious gamers, but it should make the operating systems work smoother, HD playback work better, and casual games look good.
Nevertheless, Intel is also considering to offer high-performance graphics solutions. They are going to introduce systems using an additional Larrabee processor that will enhance the potential of the integrated graphics cores. The developers describe this solution as highly parallelized micro-architecture with tremendous programming flexibility. In fact, Larrabee will consist of a several IA mini-cores with shared cache-memory and input-output system.
According to some preliminary data, the first Larrabee version will have from 16 to 24 cores, each with a 32KB L1 cache. The shared L2 cache will be about 4-6MB big. Individual IA cores will be connected via ring bus like the one used in Cell processors. The first Larrabee modifications will be manufactured with 45nm technological process, and the working frequencies of these processors are expected to be in the 1.7-2.5GHz interval. The expected TDP should be around 150W, however, please keep in mind that these are all very preliminary specifications.
This processor should allow the game developers to use image rendering techniques involving ray-tracing method. This method guarantees more realism than the traditional rasterization although requires much more computational resources than the contemporary systems can offer. The first Larrabee processors are expected to appear in the end of this year, however the first mass solutions of this class should come out no sooner than in the end of 2009 – beginning of 2010.