Why Intel stopped working on Larrabee for consumers, or how AMD can save itself
Imagine a world where Intel has continued working on Larrabee for consumers. Microsoft didn't change their direction of Windows on ARM. They haven't split Windows into 2 releases, but a single one with both support for ARM and x86. GPGPU (CUDA) didn't take off the way it did, because it didn't need to. Every PC would have an insane amount of computing power which would actually be useful, as there wouldn't be a lot of low-level coding to be done.*
*I'm not a dev, but isn't CUDA's problem right now that it's very hard to implement?
This seems like a wonderful reality right? Well, not for Intel. Because no longer are they the leader of (at least) the mobile CPU space, ARM has taken over. So how did this happen? Let's get a closer look at what computing looks like in this alternate reality.
So Windows 8 is a single product. You might think that there would be an insane amount of consumer confusion and it's a huge mess. But that parity between ARM and x86 isn't there. As you might recall, Larrabee was x86 based. This is also the reason why currently Xeon Phi is interesting for scientists that need a lot of number crunching. It's easy to program for.
By now you probably know where I'm going with this, but let me spell it out so my piece isn't left unfinished. By the release of Windows 8, Computers are mostly ARM based. Luckily for us though, we can still run our x86 apps. How? Larrabee. It allows us to run Photoshop on our new machine, it allows us to run legacy programs.
Newer programs are all ARM for the most part, but the very moment you need that extra bit of power the Larrabee chip kicks in. Fast x86 computing, with the power savings of ARM. For legacy apps, Microsoft has devised a way to run them on those lovely chips.
Intel understood this reality, so they killed off Larrabee. Microsoft did too, so they started and announced Windows on ARM. (or so I think) When Larrabee was done for, Microsoft still saw potential in ARM, so they forked Windows and made Windows RT.
Why AMD doesn't do this is beyond me. I don't know what is in their licensing agreement with Intel, but I don't think that excludes making a cheap coprocessor. They have the knowledge, the position and they NEED to innovate right now. Their APU stuff is cool, but Intel is playing catchup in that front. Once that happens, what do they have? ATi? That market just isn't big enough to support AMD. A good deal with Sony/Microsoft could help them survive for a bit, but don't they do the Wii and Xbox 360 right now? Those have sold well, and that still didn't make their position stronger.
Not only needs AMD to do this for themselves, they need to do this for us. Intel has enjoyed their leading position for a bit too long, they are a pretty nice company and all, but that Broadwell BGA stuff scares me. This industry needs a new direction.