This large blue chonker is kind of presumably the one working prototype of Intel’s Larabee GPU on the earth, and it simply bought on Ebay France for €4,650 ($5,234). You thought an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 was costly in right now’s market? Strive being a collector of uncommon PC parts, then come speak to us.
Our associates over at Tom’s Hardware notice the small print of the latest Larrabee GPU itemizing, the place the cardboard was highlighted as an Intel engineering pattern for inside use solely, and included a screenshot of the BIOS to indicate the GPU labored, however was with out drivers.
The Larrabee GPU, for individuals who aren’t caught up, was Intel’s earlier try at a wholly in-house discrete graphics card design that got here method earlier than all of the Intel Arc graphics card enterprise took place.
The corporate sunk fairly a considerable sum of cash into the cardboard’s design, several billion by all likelihoods, however the retail launch ended up cancelled in late 2009, and the challenge lastly dropped off half a yr later. Intel acknowledged on the time, “We won’t deliver a discrete graphics product to market, a minimum of within the short-term.” The explanation? “We missed some key product milestones,” amongst different issues. Amongst them, the corporate’s altering focus.
Intel’s trajectory going ahead was clear: “We’re targeted on processor graphics, and we consider media/HD video and cell computing are crucial areas to deal with transferring ahead.” Apparently gaming wasn’t as viable a spotlight again in 2010.
Though the cardboard was cancelled, that does not imply it was a failure. As Tom Forsyth, considered one of its principal designers, stated when he rejoined Intel’s graphics team under Raja Koduri, “Each month or so, somebody will ask me what occurred to Larrabee and why it failed so badly. And I then attempt to clarify to them that not solely did not it fail, it was a reasonably big success.”
The cardboard’s tech truly went on to bolster Intel’s supercomputing division, and helped type the idea for a high-profile accelerator card, Knights Corner, together with the Xeon Phi co-processors in 2012.
The x86-based Larrabee card itself works extra like a CPU/GPU hybrid than only a graphics card. It was extra of a normal computing unit devoid of any specialised silicon, and was derived from Intel Pentium CPU designs—solely with a extra highly effective vector unit than the older Intel processors had.
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Contained in the chunky blue field of the Larrabee card sits 32 four-way multithreaded cores, a 512-bit vector processing unit, and a 1,024bit (512-bit bi-directional) reminiscence bus.
All this makes it arduous to liken it to a modern-day equal, however the efficiency of the 48-core variations have been nearer to competing playing cards from Nvidia and AMD on the time, although they got here with a a lot greater energy consumption value. That being in all probability another reason they by no means hit the market.
Apparently a working prototype of the unique Larrabee GPU did survive, and a few fortunate soul has now managed to bag it. How the Larrabee got here to be within the arms of the vendor is unclear, however they’ve certain made one collector very completely satisfied.