updated 06:00 pm EDT, Tue September 22, 2009
Intel Maloney keynote leaked
A prematurely released copy of Intel's plans for a Wednesday keynote has surfaced a day in advance and has provided details of the company's plans for the near future. The release obtained by ZDNet has Intel executive VP Sean Maloney revealing that the company has started shipping its many-cored Larrabee graphics chip to developers ahead of a full release and demonstrating what it can do in real-time. The demo should show a custom build of the online shooter Enemy Territory: Quake Wars running with raytraced lighting, a feat which is technically difficult for any graphics hardware as it calculates the path of each ray of light rather than making "shortcut" calculations.
Larrabee is based on 32 Pentium-based cores that are optimized both to talk to each other and to run the vector math often used in graphics, especially in 3D. Intel's design counts on having fewer but more powerful cores than most dedicated graphics cards, which even in budget parts often have several times more cores that are individually limited. It should ultimately accelerate general-purpose computing tasks as a companion part but will focus on graphics first when it's fully ready in 2010.
The demo is also scheduled to include a live example of a 32 nanometer processor using Intel's late 2010 Sandy Bridge architecture, which builds the graphics core into the processor itself. Maloney is expected to talk about the much more imminent Westmere processors using the existing architecture (Nehalem) on 32nm.
Other elements of the keynote should include Gulftown, the codename for mainstream desktop six-core processors under the Core i9 badge, and Nehalem-EX, an eight-core Xeon variant due early next year and aimed mainly at servers rather than workstations.