Intel confirms programmable, multi-core chip

Intel’s Larrabee chip will be a multi-core, programmable part that will use a tweaked version of the x86 instruction set and will have at least one teraflop of processing power. Intel expects software developers to craft specialized applications for the processor, giving them a boost on some of the most demanding workloads. Intel expects to demonstrate a Larrabee chips, likely with tens of cores, next year. Intel is also working to advance similar types of accelerators that will connect to systems via PCI Express. In addition, it’s hyping FPGA co-processors that slot into Xeon sockets.

Some more details are provided at Ars Technica. The chip will likely be produced about 2009.

The part appears to be an offshoot of Intel’s terascale processor labs project. The company today demonstrated a non-x86, 80-core chip reaching 2 teraflops, while consuming 191 watts of power. The same chip hit one teraflop at 46 watts and 1.5 teraflops at 93 watts.

Larrabee looks set to compete against so-called GPGPUs or general purpose graphics processors. AMD has been touting the GPGPU concept (AMD plans the Fusion processor) as a way for a broader set of software developers to take advantage of the strong performance demonstrated by graphics chips from Nvidia and ATI (now part of AMD).