AMD says of Larrabee: "GPUs are hard to design and you can’t design one with a CPU-centric approach that utilizes existing x86 cores."
Over the weekend we learned that Intel has pulled the reins back on Larrabee, the chip giant's supposed answer to the GPGPU question.
Although we already knew that Larrabee wasn't going to be a world beater in the world of 3D gaming, it proposed new thinking that excited game developers and engine programmers such as Tim Sweeney, the mastermind behind the Unreal Engine.
Designing some of the world's best CPUs, Intel's attempt to make a new GPGPU was marred by delays that would have made the product uncompetitive.
We decided to ask AMD for its take on the Larrabee situation, as it's a company that also has to juggle both CPU and GPU development. Of course the story for AMD is different due to the acquisition of graphics specialist ATI.
"From the outset, we have seen Larrabee as further validation of the importance of visual computing. We continue to assert that GPU technology is essential to the computing experience, today and tomorrow," Dave Erskine, Graphics Public Relations of AMD, told Tom's Hardware. "AMD is the technology leader in GPU technology for 3D graphics, video and GPU Compute."
Having both a CPU and graphics market already established, AMD is in a unique position with its integration strategy.
"With only CPU, or GPU, a company is limited in its ability to respond to the needs of the industry," Erskine added. "AMD is the only company in command of both GPU and CPU IP portfolios, and in response to the clear direction of the computer industry we’re bringing CPU and GPU together in Fusion."
Larrabee's architecture was different from today's GPUs because it was based on a Pentium P54C design uses the x86 instruction set. The nature of the design makes Larrabee better suited to the term of the GPGPU – but it's one that AMD doesn't see as the right one to go with.
"It really comes down to design philosophy," said Erskine. "GPUs are hard to design and you can’t design one with a CPU-centric approach that utilizes existing x86 cores."
What does AMD propose instead? Erskine explains, "We’re entering a new era in PC computing and it requires that visual computing technologies drive the pace of innovation. We call this Velocity. AMD Velocity builds on our already established GPU design cycle to achieve a faster pace of innovation than AMD previously achieved with a CPU-only development focus. AMD velocity is designed to deliver performance breakthroughs via teraFLOPS-class GPU compute power in tandem with performance and low-power x86 core options. We expect this will result in a clear, compelling platform differentiation for AMD, and the delivery of the best APU on the market every year."