Just when the GPU war looks like continuing indefinitely as a two horse race, Intel comes along to stir up the market. It’s Larrabee processor is due in 2009/10, and if initial speculation is anything to go by this could change the way GPU’s are used. There’s already been much talk about the use of the parallel processing power of current GPU’s for non-graphical tasks. Physics simulation is an emerging role, and Apple’s next OS, Snow Leopard, will include the ability to easily harness all that GPU power for programmers.
Larrabee is different to GPU’s currently available due to its use of multiple Pentium cores. They’re much improved over the original pentium cores, running a lot faster and incorporating newer technologies. The difference between Larrabee cores and a CPU like the Core 2 Duo is complexity. Larrabee is a simpler design that occupies a much smaller space, making a large number of cores in as small package possible.
Just how much the Larrabee chip can do is still a little fuzzy, and some sites are suggesting it will run applications as well as perform GPU and large number crunching duties. Does this mean current systems using a Core 2 Duo/Quad and Graphics card will be replaced by a Larrabee processor? From Dailytech.com,
Larry Seiler from Intel says, “What the graphics and general data parallel application market needs is an architecture that provides the full programming abilities of a CPU, the full capabilities of a CPU together with the parallelism that is inherent in graphics processors. Larrabee provides [that] and it’s a practical solution to the limitations of current graphics processors.”
If Larrabee performs as well as suggested this could be the biggest shake-up in system architecture for a long time. Convincing users that putting all your processing into one package is a good idea would be another matter.
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I’ve had some positive comments recently from people who have built a hackintosh using the same components I used. For anyone looking to base a system around the Core 2 Quad Q6600 Aria have a deal on as I type this (16:31 in the UK) for the Q6600 at £129.19 including VAT. Only 20 left at that price, and it’s the cheapest quad core processor I have seen so far. I’ve commented on my experiences of this previously so I won’t repeat it all again, just mention that mine is running great at 3Ghz with a heatsink and fan.
I finally had enough waiting yesterday and ordered the components for my hackintosh. And as if by magic 10.5.2 was released. I changed the motherboard from the GA-P35C-DS3R to the very similar GA-P35-DS3R. The only difference I can see is that the P35 board doesn’t support ddr3 memory, which I wasn’t interested in. I also ordered a 500Gb Sata hard drive. I paid the extra for AM delivery and started planning the build and OS install.
As expected, the parcel was delivered at 12:06. Why are these couriers never earlier than they have to be? An hour later the motherboard, CPU, fan and memory were installed in the CM stacker and the power went on. I was a bit nervous as this was the first time I had used a Core 2 quad, and they are tiny. Hard to believe there are four processors in there with a huge heatsink and fan sitting on top.
So the power went on, and nothing Read more…