Mike Abrash, founder of RAD Game Tools and former game programmer, talked about the Intel Larrabee project at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Abrash called it to most fascinating graphics architecture he's seen in 15 years, and believes Larrabee can be more efficient than GPUs from NVIDIA and ATI. He also said Larrabee will be power-efficient and flexible, but likely not as fast at raw graphics performance as other graphics chips.
Abrash likes the architecture and called it the most fascinating graphics architecture he’s seen in 15 years, because it lets the programmer determine how to set up and perform tasks in parallel. He said the Pentium cores on the processor make it more flexible than a traditional graphics chip. And he described how Larrabee can be more efficient than traditional graphics chips at performing “rasterization,” or putting the pixels that make up a graphic image on a screen.
But it remains to be seen if other programmers will find Larrabee as easy to program as Abrash, who is among the super geeks of programmers. Abrash noted that another highly respected graphics expert, Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, had a lot of input into creating Larrabee’s architecture. To make parallel programming easier, Intel is introducing more than 100 new instructions for Larrabee.