Intel to use Larrabee graphics on CPUs

Replaces GenX in a few years

Update: Haswell is still far out and thus somewhat in flux. It is three to four CPU generations from now, and that is enough time for some radical changes in architecture. This is the short way of saying that the Larrabee instruction integration is not set in stone for Haswell, it could come in on the shrink of Haswell, or the next architecture. Time will tell.

ONE OF THE best open secrets in the industry is about Larrabee and it’s eventual integration into Intel’s core Core CPU line. It is going to happen, just a bit later than many expect.

The integration is set for the Haswell generation, just over three years from now. For those not up on the current Intel long term roadies, the current core is called Nehalem and it is followed by a 32nm shrink named Westmere due late this year. In late 2010, we have another core called Sandy Bridge. It is followed up by Ivy Bridge, a shrink to 22nm in late 2011. Late the following year, 2012, we will see the debut of a core called Haswell.

Even if some Intel execs dare not utter its name, Haswell was officially disclosed in slides at the Spring 2008 IDF in Shanghai. You can see the slide in question on CanardPC here. The specs of the chip itself are still a little fuzzy but given it is three years out that is to be expected. The one thing we can say for sure is that it will have Larrabee compatible graphics on die.

The current chipsets, soon to be CPUs, have GenX graphics. No, not the Billy Idol band, but the architecture that took the bottom of the market by storm with the 965G, and continued to set new lows with the G35 and G45, and it will soldier on for another 3 years before it is finally put down.

Although the GenX architecture is strongly rumored to have finally been done right in the G55 generation, it is running out of steam. Larrabee needs to have the surrounding software infrastructure built up, both drivers and compatible programs that hit the metal directly, before Haswell debuts.

Given how much work it takes to get a solid and capable driver set out, the Larrabee team has a lot of work ahead of them. It is going to be very interesting to see not only how well, but also how soon all this software gets fleshed out.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.