Intel has confirmed reports that it will not release its next-generation graphics processor widely known as Larrabee as a discreet GPU. Instead, most reports indicate that the company will move ahead with its many-core processor as a design and development platform aimed at graphics rendering and high-performance computing.
The idea behind Larrabee was relatively simple: combine a bunch of Pentium-class processor cores with coherent cache, add some SIMD vector and texture sampling units, and tie them all together with x86 instructions and write extensions where necessary. Viola! A super-fast general purpose CPU that's programmable with C/C++ and performs graphics processing too. Problem was, Larrabee was too slow. Initial performance figures were about a fifth of where they needed to be to compete with AMD and NVidia, according to Wikipedia. It also was widely reported that demonstrations given at IDC in September were unimpressive.
The news comes just weeks after the late-November revelation that IBM would not advance its Cell processor, found in Sony's PlayStation3. It's been rumored that Larrabee was under consideration by Sony as next in line, but I guess that rumor is now laid to rest.
Larrabee appears to have caused confusion right from the start. Intel's plan to produce a graphics processor first surfaced publicly in early 2007, amid media speculation and reports of a conflicted marketing message.