Intel Corp. on Monday revealed several previously unknown details about its code-named Larrabee processors. Even though Intel once again reaffirmed that its Larrabee chips will be compatible with existing graphics application programming interfaces (APIs), the new architecture will be able to do much more than just graphics processing.
The Larrabee architecture includes a high-performance, wide SIMD vector processing unit (VPU) along with a new set of vector instructions including integer and floating point arithmetic, vector memory operations and conditional instructions. In addition, Larrabee includes a major new hardware coherent cache design enabling the many-core architecture. The architecture and instructions have been designed to deliver performance, energy efficiency and general purpose programmability to meet the demands of visual computing and other workloads that are inherently parallel in nature.
Tools are critical to success and key Intel Software Products will be enhanced to support the Larrabee architecture and enable unparalleled developer freedom. Industry APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL will be supported on Larrabee-based products, Intel promised. Nevertheless, the company proclaimed that Larrabee will also be compatible with x86 micro-architecture, which should ensure that it would be easier for software developers to make their applications run efficiently on the new type of microprocessors.
Besides, Intel also stressed that Larrabee will also support global illumination techniques, such as ray tracing, real-life physics in game titles, life-like display of human motion in medical imaging and so on.
The company said that visual computing is not limited to something that can be seen: with performance breakthroughs brought by multi-core microprocessors entirely new levels of interactivity will emerge. For example, new forms of game controllers that can understand human motion will enable users to become characters in their favorite games. In medical imaging patient sensors will feed real time information to enable doctors to perform interactive computed guided procedures.
In order to deliver on the promise of Visual Computing, a complete platform is required. This includes the multi-core CPU, chipset and graphics plus software and associated developer tools. Intel continues to increase its investment and pace in developing technologies, products and platforms that are fueling the pace of visual computing advancements.
Intel said it would demonstrate Larrabee later this year.