Another Itanium? Intel Freezes Larrabee Project

Intel's attempt to challenge AMD and Nvidia in the discrete GPU segment has been met with a massive setback as it was forced to review its Larrabee plans.

The project, which originally surfaced back in 2007, is Intel's second attempt to create a graphics chip although this time around, the semiconductor giant wanted to use traditional x86 cores coupled with custom vector processing units.

Intel has not officially cancelled the project but will change its focus from a consumer oriented project to a more corporate/scientific one (think high performance computers). Instead, Larabee will become a software development platform for internal and third party developers.

Nick Knupffer, Intel's Global Communications Manager, said in a statement that "Larrabee silicon and software development are behind where we hoped to be at this point in the project and as a result, our first Larrabee product will not be launched as a standalone discrete graphics product".

However, Intel still on track to launch its first chip with integrated graphics, codenamed Pineview, well before rival AMD's proposal, Fusion. Pineview will be targeting a new generation of netbooks scheduled to debut early next year and should in theory reduce costs, increase performance and extend battery life.

The semiconductor giant is also far ahead of both Nvidia and AMD when it comes to the combined number of integrated and discrete graphics modules shipped worldwide.

Our Comments

Whether it is a strategic move or one that is due to mismanagement, only time will tell. Larrabee is starting to look more and more like another Intel project, Itanium, which was supposed to herald a new generation of processors but ended up being a costly, miscalculated and misguided journey.

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