Intel discrete graphics chips confirmed

Monday 22nd January 2007, 12:12:00 PM, written by Tim

Six weeks ago, job descriptions for Intel's Larrabee Development Group caused widespread speculation that the chip giant would be re-entering the discrete graphics marketplace. These speculations have now been confirmed with Intel actively recruiting for its Visual Computing Group, the official name for the Larrabee project. The page notes that the group will first focus on "developing discrete graphics products based on a many-core architecture targeting high-end client platforms," with lower-end products, including graphics products integrated with CPUs, to follow later. Precisely what this means--what exactly is a many-core architecture in this context, and what's the timeframe for the new chips?--is still anyone's guess.

One thing to keep in mind is that Intel's fab utilization has decreased over the past year. Intel would certainly like to use its spare capacity for something, rather than waste money by idling fabs. Considering that it is initially targeting the high-end segment (with its historically higher margins), it would thus seem likely that any future GPUs from Intel would be manufactured in-house, just as the i740 was in days of yore. It will also be interesting to see what, if any, advantage its superior process technologies will give them.

Therefore, after months (if not years!) of rumors, a milestone has been reached. Intel now has, in their own words on their own site, declared, "Look out, NVIDIA and AMD/ATI, here we come!"

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