Last week, we learned that Patrick P. Gelsinger will leave Intel for EMC and tried to find out the reason for the move. From one side, the move had perfect sense. Pat was one of Andy Groove’s men, and Paul Otellini did his best to surround himself with his aces, thus the choice of Sean Maloney was logical.
But the underlying issue wasn’t that Pat was "Andy Groove’s men", the issue was the war with nVidia and under-delivering on Larrabee.
As we all know, Larrabee project has been problematic at best. Intel start hyping up Larrabee long before it was ready, and the project broke all deadlines. We read through roadmaps and watched Larrabee slip not by quarters, but by years. After we saw roadmaps for introduction of Larrabee pushed back all the way to 2011, and hearing that a lot of key industry analysts are dismayed at Intel – Pat’s maneuvering capability was cut to a single corner.
A lot of people we talked to were disappointed at Intel "starting a war with nVidia without a product to compete", and after hearing statements such as "Intel is a chip company, not a PowerPoint company", it was clear to us that Intel seriously "screwed the pooch" on this one.
There is no doubt in our minds that Intel is going to deliver Larrabee, as it is the future of the company. But Intel will probably spend additional billion or so USD on making the chip work [because it is quintessentially broken in hardware, we haven’t even touched the software side], and come to market with a complete line-up. But unlike the CPU division that only missed Lynnfield [Core i5-700, i7-800 series] roadmap by six months, project Larrabee is now a year late, and according to documents we saw, it won’t reach the market in the next 12 months. This will put a 45nm Larrabee against 28nm next-gen chips from ATI and nVidia, even though we know the caveat of using 45nm Fabs for the job. According to our sources, in 2011 both ATI and nVidia will offer parts with around 5-7TFLOPS of compute power, surpassing 10TFLOPS on the dual-ASIC parts. According to information at hand, Intel targeted 1+ TFLOPS of compute power for the first generation, i.e. less number crunching performance than ATI Radeon HD 4870 and nVidia GeForce GTX 285. With Larrabee coming in 2011, the company did revise that number to raise available performance.
We learned about the estimated cost of Larrabee project, and if there wasn’t for best-selling Core 2 series, this project would seriously undermine Intel’s ability to compete. To conclude this article – Larrabee was Gelsinger’s baby, project got seriously messed up and somebody had to pay the bill. Patrick is staying in Santa Clara though, almost on the same address. Given his new job, Patrick P. Gelsinger simply moved from 2200 Mission College Blvd [Robert N. Noyce building, i.e. Intel HQ], to 2831 Mission College Blvd [EMC HQ].