The second long-spike article that I’ve resurrected is regarding Intel’s decision to downgrade its Larrabee platform release into a Software Development Kit, written back in December.

Larrabee SlideIf you’ve been awaiting the debut of Intel’s Larrabee multi-core graphics processor with bated breath, there’s been a bit of a hiccup: the system has been downgraded to the status of ‘software development platform’, at least for now.

Although Intel had previously promised that Larrabee-based products would be launching in the first quarter of 2010, the company has chosen to make a rather late announcement that it wasn’t being exactly honest with that launch date. As reported by PC Magazine, company spokesman Nick Knupffer admits that “Larrabee silicon and software development are behind where we had hoped to be at this point in the project,” and states that “as a result, our first Larrabee product will not be launched as a standalone discrete graphics product, but rather be used as a software development platform for internal and external use.

While Larrabee’s innovative architecture promised a different way of looking at the process of rendering graphics – described by Intel chief executive officer Paul Otellini back in 2007 as “a highly parallel, many core product comprised of an array of Intel architecture cores” promising” “teraflops of performance” – the truth of where the product was came out at IDF back in September, almost two years after Larrabee’s original announcement, when a demonstration by senior research scientist Bill Mark used a Larrabee prototype to run the real-time ray-traced Enemy Territory: Quake Wars demonstration incredibly slowly. Interestingly, despite the embarrassing demonstration, Intel was still claiming at that time that the first Larrabee product would be “discrete performance graphics” boards – not an SDK.

While the news that 2010 will only be seeing an software development platform for Larrabee will be a blow for Intel, the company hasn’t completely given up on the idea of launching its own discrete graphics processor to compete with rival AMD and Nvidia – but it’s likely to be 2011 at the earliest.

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