Intel has answers to CUDA

Written by Tim Smalley

April 2, 2008 // 2:05 a.m.

Tags: #ct #cuda #events #idf-spring-2008 #intel #larrabee #model #nvidia #parallel #programming #tera-scale

Day Zero at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai was largely uneventful, but there was at least one interesting tidbit to be found amongst all of the talk about Intel’s research efforts in China.

Our old friend Larrabee popped up during the ‘Techsperts’ session, when one of Intel’s researchers talked about Intel’s parallel programming environment that has been coined ‘Ct’.

Ct is a flexible programming model that allows developers to just program in a way that’s familiar to them – that sounds fairly generic, but where it gets interesting is that it’s specifically designed to scale across Tera-Scale architectures for maximum performance with no extra threading effort on the developer’s part.

Think of it as a similar tool to Nvidia’s CUDA HPC programming model, which enables developers to use the GeForce 8- and GeForce 9-series’ compute power for massively parallel tasks that aren’t graphics.

Everything is shaping up for Intel to assault the HPC market first with Larrabee, but don’t think Intel is going to stop just there. Another researcher all but confirmed that Larrabee will be released as a discrete GPU—or graphics card if you will—basically setting the stage for a fight for supremacy between AMD, Nvidia and Intel in the graphics market.

I believe Larrabee and Tera-Scale have a lot more in common than you would first think – Tera-Scale is a research project, right? Well, what do you think Larrabee is? Intel itself said during its pre-IDF briefing that Larrabee scales to teraFLOPS of compute power – that seems pretty Tera-Scale to me…

This is part of the reason why I find the whole Larrabee discussion an interesting one – exactly how much of Intel’s Tera-Scale research will make it into Larrabee in its first incarnation… and what’s left to come in future versions of this architecture?

I hoped to get some of these questions answered yesterday, as I was meant to have a one-to-one interview with Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Officer at Intel. However, Rattner has unfortunately been taken ill and there’s a chance he might not make his keynote tomorrow. The interview was rescheduled with Andrew Chien, a member of Rattner’s research team, but he was presenting on stage during my allotted interview time. I’ve been told that it’ll be rescheduled, hopefully for sometime today.

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