Intel Brings Back Larrabee & Coprocessor Paradigm For Knights Corner

There were two terms in the presentation on Intel's Many Integrated Core architecture that made us smile; the first one was 'coprocessor' and the second one was 'Larabee'.

For those old enough to remember, Intel popularised stand alone coprocessors back in the days of the original IBM PC with the 8087 floating point coprocessor, commonly known as the FPU.

Several generations later, Intel brought the coprocessor onto the chip itself and from the Pentium onwards, the coprocessor was now an integral part of the processor itself.

But history tends to repeat itself and with the rise of Graphics Processing Units, both Nvidia and AMD have started to work on General Purpose GPUs which may have prompted Intel to do the same and gave us Larrabee.

And while Knights Corner's Aubrey Isle silicon has its roots firmly in the microprocessing world, the fact that it uses GDDR5 memory and is powered using a Larrabee 1.6.197 kernel driver shows that it shares some affinity with a graphics card as well.

The first silicon, a D0 part, has 32 cores and is manufactured using Intel's 45nm process. Each core runs at 1.2GHz with four instruction threads each, 64KB L1 cache. Each die also has 8MB L2 cache and up to 2GB GDDR5 graphics memory.

What's more, Intel is more than likely to bring the Knights Corner, which is available as a graphics card right now, to a separate socket and ultimately to the same processor package as the CPU in the future.


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