New from Intel: It’s Mini-Cores!

Reprinted Articles

Intel LogoEditors Note: Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing the Bumpgate Series with some additional commentary, updates and information.  We are reprinting some of the often referenced articles that originally appeared on the Inquirer. Some will have added content, but all will be re-edited from the originals as per contractual obligations. You may see some slight differences between the two versions.

This article has had some of the original links removed, and was published on Monday, July 3, 2006 at 8:56AM.

MORE INTEL CODE names to out, three in fact, two dead one live. The interesting thing is not that they exist, but what they are, mini-cores.

The names are Kevet, Keifer and Larrabee (possibly Larabee, Laraby or Larraby), and they all are, or were, mini-core projects at Intel. Larrabee is the survivor, it was just given the go-ahead while Kevet and Keifer were axed. RIP whatever they were.

This brings up the question of what mini-cores are, and what are they intended for. More curious is why a sales-person in the PS3 section of the Roseville, MN Best Buy knew what they were?S|A

Updated May 17, 2010: There was an internal memo at Intel going around saying that winners and losers of the many many-core projects that were all the rage at Intel had been decided. Kevet and Keifer were now and quite suddenly dearly departed, Larrabee was the winner. From what I remember, the first two chips were multi-core server parts ala Larrabee, but with intentions of seeing how well far too many little cores would do on server loads. Think of something like Sun’s Niagara, but with many more cores.

It may have worked for some tasks, but 32 Pentium class chips on a carrier would have had an uphill battle for a lot of things. Some things just need a single fast core, and there is no getting around that until there is a big change in software and some fundamentally new algorithms developed for basic problems. Given how hard Intel people ridiculed Niagara, and are quick to point out that one Conroe core can usually beat it silly on many benchmarks, the right decision seems to have been made. Then again, there are some tasks where Niagara stomps those cores, but not many.

Lastly, when I was told this, the source also told me the fundamentals of the Larrabee architecture, then sworn to secrecy. It was truly annoying to have to bite my tongue for 6 months on the biggest x86 architectural news since the Athlon 64. -Charlie

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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 SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com 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 SemiAccurate.com, 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. FullyAccurate