Behind the release this week of Intel graphics software looms Larrabee, Intel's future graphics chip.
First, the news. Intel announced the release of Intel Graphics Performance Analyzers (GPA), a suite of software tools that enables PC game developers to analyze and optimize game performance on Intel Integrated Graphics. This is part of the Visual Adrenaline program, launched at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in August, which provides tools, resources and information for game developers, artists, and animators, according to Intel.
But let's be clear about one thing: not a lot of people in gaming circles are going to get too excited about gaming on Intel integrated graphics. Intel graphics--at least to date--haven't provided anything more than a minimal gaming experience--and they have been priced that way, coming virtually free on PCs. While upcoming technologies like Intel's Moorestown system-on-a-chip may create some new opportunities on small devices like high-end smartphones, it will still be limited in its graphics capabilities.
All of this will soon (this year?) be eclipsed by Larrabee. In response to a question about what kind of Larrabee support GPA offers, I got this elliptic but telling response. "In the future, GPA will also support upcoming Intel graphics and many-core related products. There are some absolutely exciting features we are currently developing which will change the way people think about performance tools, and which will allow developers to truly harness unbridled computing power," said Aaron Davies, senior marketing manager, Visual Computing Software Division, Intel.
Think Intel isn't getting ready for Larrabee--and, generally, for a bigger presence in graphics? Take a look at this Visual Adrenaline Web site. And in particular, this page: "As multi-core gives way to many-core architectures, graphics processing tasks can be performed faster and more efficiently. Visual computing and parallelism share a common playbook. Developers, artists, and digital content creators, who have tapped the many multi-core and threading resources available from Intel, will reap additional many-core benefits."
Sounds like Larrabee to me.
GPA is also, of course, targeted at Intel chipsets, allowing developers to pinpoint performance bottlenecks and optimize games for Intel-based desktop PCs and laptops. But I'll wait for Larrabee, as I think many at Intel are doing too.