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Intel shows off Larrabee graphics chip for first time

Chipmaker demonstrates Larrabee--the company's first discrete graphics processor in about 10 years--at the Intel Developer Forum.

SAN FRANCISCO--Heads up, Nvidia. Intel demonstrated its Larrabee graphics chip for the first time Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum.

Larrabee will be Intel's first discrete, or standalone, graphics processor in about 10 years and is expected to compete with graphics chips from Nvidia and AMD's ATI unit. The demo used an early "stepping," or version, of Larrabee, which is expected to come out commercially sometime next year.

Larrabee will be targeted initially at the gaming market. The demonstration was based on the game Enemy Territory: Quake Wars from Splash Damage (See video.)

"This is a ray tracing demo," said Intel senior research scientist Bill Mark during the demonstration. "We took the content, the textures, and geometry, pulled it out of that game and put it into our ray tracing engine."

Mark described ray tracing technology as allowing "you to simulate the interaction of light with matter in a way that's accurate and makes it really easy to get effects like light and shadows."

"If you look at the water. That's done with only 10 lines of...code," he said. The demo was written in C++.

Mark said the same thing can be done on a standard multicore Intel processor but with Larrabee there is more parallelism--or the ability to do more things at the same time.