Pat Gelsinger, Intel senior vice president and co-general manager of the firm's Digital Enterprise Group, briefly talked about Larrabee and GPGPU languages such as CUDA during a Q&A session at Intel's 40 birthday party. Gelsinger claims programmers don't have the time to learn how to program for these new architectures and says CUDA will be nothing more than "an interesting footnote in the history of computing annals".
The problem that we’ve seen over and over and over again in the computing industry is that there’s a cool new idea, and it promises a 10x or 20x performance improvements, but you’ve just got to go through this little orifice called a new programming model,’ Gelsinger explained to Custom PC. Those orifices, says Gelsinger, have always been ‘insurmountable as long as the general purpose computing models evolve into the future.’
Gelsinger used the Cell architecture used in the PlayStation 3’s CPU as an example to prove his point. ‘It [Cell] promised to be this radical new computing architecture,’ said Gelsinger, ‘and basically years later the application programmers have barely been able to comprehend how to write applications for it.’
This, according to Gelsinger, is one of the major reasons why Intel’s forthcoming Larrabee graphics chip will be entirely based on IA (Intel Architecture) x86 cores. ‘Our approach to this has been to not force programmers to make a radical architectural shift,’ explained Gelsinger, ‘but to take what they already know – this IA-compatible architecture – and extend the programming model to comprehend new visual computing data-parallel-throughput workloads, and that’s the strategy that we’re taking with Larrabee.’
Larrabee, according to Gelsinger, will simply expand on a standard programming model. ‘It’s an IA-compatible core,’ explained Gelsinger, ‘and we’re extending it with a graphics vector visualisation instruction set that has full support for native programming models, full support for the graphics APIs like DX and OpenGL, and then this broad set of new programming models to go with it.’