Semiconductor behemoth Intel has presented at IDF in San Francisco, its first graphics chip for more than a decade, Larrabee, a discrete graphics processing unit that is the direct successor of the i740.
Showed by Intel senior research scientist, Bill Marks, the early version of the silicon appeared to be good enough to run a small demo of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, together with a six-core 32nm Gulftown processor.
Riyad Emeran, from Trusted Reviews, was far from impressed by the demonstration, saying that Intel's "obsession" with real time ray tracing doesn't necessarily translate into superior performance.
Other journalists have also reported that the "ray tracing demo" suffered a number of glitches notably a very slow framerate when an aircraft appeared on the screen.
Marks said that "This is a ray tracing demo", before adding that Intel took the content took the content, the textures, and geometry, pulled it out of that game and put it into their ray tracing engine.
The GPU is expected to be excellent at ray-tracing although there are doubts as to how it will perform in real raster-based games, the same used by AMD and Nvidia.
Sean Maloney, Intel's EVP for Sales and Marketing, confirmed that the chip will be integrated into a CPU and become a competitor to AMD's own Bulldozer proposition.
Larrabee is expected to be launched by the end of next year by which time, ATI and Nvidia will already have launched one more generation of video cards and entry level GPU's will have the raw power of a 10 year old super computer.
One thing is sure as well. Larrabee is a two-billion transistor 45nm chip which makes it not only very, very big but also very, very expensive.
The first few steps of Intel's Larrabee in public are baby steps, underwhelming and slightly confusing. However expect the giant to quickly get back on its feet and deliver a compelling solution within the next five years. Nvidia is the one most likely to suffer since it doesn't have the products portfolio of AMD.