Tech gossip: Larrabee is like a 2006 GPU, Fusion doesn't make sense

Posted on Monday, Aug 25 2008 @ 23:33 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
PC Pro brings some news from NVIDIA's NVISION event. The site had a chat with NVIDIA's GPU computing group general manager Andy Keane about Intel's Larrabee project:
"There's an incredible amount about Larrabee that's undefined," explained Keane, commenting on the specifications so far released. "You can't just say 'it's x86 so it's going to solve the massively parallel computing problem.'"
John Montrym, chief architect of the GT200 GPU, also raised doubts about Larrabee:
"They've put out a certain amount of technical disclosure in the past five weeks," he noted, "but although they make Larrabee sound like it's a fundamentally better approach, it isn't. They don't tell you the assumptions they made. They talk about scaling, but they disregard memory bandwidth. They make it sound good, but we say, you neglected half a dozen things."

"Every GPU we make, we always consider this type of design, we do a reasoned analysis, and we always conclude no. That's why we haven't built that type of machine."

"Intel is not a stupid company," he conceded. "They've put a lot of people behind this, so clearly they believe it's viable. But the products on our roadmap

are competitive to this thing as they've painted it. And the reality is going to fall short of the optimistic way they've painted it."
And blogger and CPU architect Peter Glaskowsky believes Larrabee, which will arrive in late 2009 or 2010, would have been a good chip in 2006:
"As [blogger and CPU architect] Peter Glaskowsky said, the 'large' Larrabee in 2010 will have roughly the same performance as a 2006 GPU from Nvidia or ATI."
The topic then switched to AMD, NVIDIA's guys admitted they underestimated ATI's product and suggest they're working on a new driver that will offer a performance boost for the GeForce cards:
"We underestimated ATI with respect to their product," he admitted. "We've looked very closely at this, and we know there are certain things we can do better. There will be improvements to things from all angles: there are some easy fixes in the software domain that will soon be forthcoming. Believe me, it's a very prime focus of ours."

Montrym ascribed the company's current embarrassment, at ATI's hands, to its earlier successes. "ATI has had the benefit for a long time of seeing Nvidia's products and having something to shoot for," he argued, "while Nvidia has not had the benefit of having someone to be shooting after."
Montrym and Keane also discussed the AMD Fusion project and said they believe the economics don't make sense:
"Joining both components on the same die doesn't buy you that much," he commented. "It's not like there's a real bottleneck there. And every square millimeter you add to the die is a very expensive millimeter. It's an incremental expense, not a linear function. It's cheaper to separate them."

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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