With Larrabee chip, Intel takes swing at AMD, Nvidia

The processor will power Intel's first stand-alone graphics card

Although Intel offered up few details about its upcoming Larrabee chip on Monday, analysts say the move puts rivals Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia on notice that the competition is taking a new -- and maybe even more contentious -- turn.

While keeping the number of cores Larrabee will have under wraps, Intel did note that the first Larrabee chip will have numerous x86 processor cores and support for OpenGL and DirectX, allowing it to run existing games and software requiring high-end graphics. The company also noted that the chip will first go into graphics cards aimed at high-end gamers and power users; after that it could become an accelerator, giving CPUs a major performance boost.

Larrabee marks a major step in the graphics world for Intel because it will be the company's first stand-alone graphics card. Traditionally, Intel has relied on companies like Nvidia and ATI, which now is owned by AMD.

That means Intel will be throwing down with AMD and Nvidia in a space where Intel's competition was largely free from dealing with the much bigger and well-funded rival.

The good news for AMD and Nvidia, though, is that Intel isn't planning to release Larrabee for another year to 18 months. That gives Intel's rivals time to put on their best running shoes and get ahead in this graphics race.

"Intel is really going after all segments of the market," said Jim McGregor, an analyst at In-Stat. "I don't think AMD has to be worried about this particular threat. I think it's part of a much larger threat from Intel.... Is there a threat? Yes. It's Larrabee. It's Nehalem. It's everything Intel is doing. They're really pushing hard."

Nehalem is a 45-nanometer chip, four-core processor slated to go into production in the fourth quarter of this year. The chips are designed to include an integrated memory controller, eliminating the need for a front-side bus. The new Nehalem architecture is modular, which would make it easier to scale from two to eight cores.

McGregor said the upcoming chips give Intel a stronger stand in the market. "Do they have to be in the graphics market? No, but it helps," he said. "It rounds out their offering so they can say, 'Yah, we've got everything.'"

Dan Olds, principal analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group, said Intel's graphics move could be more of a concern for AMD, which already is dealing with a whole other set of issues. With a recent leadership change, financial issues from its acquisition of ATI and a past year of missed product deadlines and turmoil, AMD needs to get back onto steady ground. And AMD has been making strides, shipping a slew of new products and hitting deadlines this year.

But one more layer of competition with Intel is not what the company needs, Olds said.

At least Larrabee's release is still a ways away, according to Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT.

"...This isn't great news for Nvidia and AMD, but they have time to move ahead," he added. "If these guys have till late in 2009 or even 2010, that's a long time in the IT industry.... If Intel was saying they'd be definitely driving these chips to market next year, that would be a real blow. If they get another six to eight months, that gives them more breathing room."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?