Computer chip giant Intel has told Develop that it hopes to convince console manufacturers that its Larrabee chip will be an ideal processor for their next generation of games hardware.
The Larrabee chip is a many-core processor that is primarily targeted at the graphics space but can also be used for other computing functions. It’s Intel’s latest cutting edge chip and has been in the works for some time.
Early engineering versions of the chip are expected to arrive later this year, while consumer products using the hardware will be available by 2010.
And speaking to us in an exclusive interview, Aaron Coday, manager of the EMEA visual computing group, said that Intel had been in the meantime working closely with a variety of games industry partners to work out what kind of next-generation GPU developers want – and that console manufacturers are next.
“We’ve been working with a lot of game developers. All of the input and design of Larrabee comes with the involvement of various software firms in the industry. It’s very much driven by feedback from the industry, telling us the type of things they would like to do, and how can they do them,” explained Coday.
“It’s definitely something we would want to discuss with the console vendors, and hope that the architecture that we’re providing is something that is very compelling for them and be interesting.”
Coday described Larrabee as an “inflection point” for games developers, saying it will help return coding to easier single chip roots – but with the enhanced power of a next generation many-core chipset.
“Larrabee allows us to come full circle and have complete programmability, and still have all the processing power to do everything that we want to do,” he said.
Larrabee’s use of DirectX and OpenGL will also mean coders will find the chip easy to develop for, Coday claimed.
“Larrabee is going to be a DirectX and OpenGL solution. That means that for the majority of developers, if their resources are already strained, should not be a significant challenge for them at all. This is like any other graphics solution. And it will be performance competitive. But there are a few leading game companies out there that are saying ‘we want to push the envelope, we want to push the industry further.’ And they’re the ones that are going to work and experiment more on the Larrabee native interface as they go.
“In order to use Larrabee you don’t have to use this new native interface. You can continue to use it just like an OpenGL or DirectX solution. But that ability to go a little bit further to try things that you haven’t tried before, or that haven’t been possible before, that’s what the third interface provides for you.”
To read the full interview, click here.