Intel's checkered past on some large projects means the chipmaker must prove that Larrabee isn't a development flub that will simply be kept on life support for the next few years.
As reported last week, Intel's Larrabee graphics chip was killed as an initial product offering after protracted delays, demonstrating that as successful as Intel is, it's not immune to major product missteps.
If certain product histories are any indication, the challenge could be daunting. Intel's XScale processor for small devices--which was used in Compaq handhelds back in 2000--was sold off to Marvell in 2006 after an unsuccessful run. And its Itanium processor has been the object of perennial ridicule as a product hanging on for dear life after getting off to a very rocky start back in 1998. Sun Microsystem's former CEO Scott McNealy eventually dubbed the chip the "Itanic" as a play on the word Titanic.
"If you go back in history when they started down the Itanium path in the mid-90s, they said they were going to have a really whiz-bang product, but by the time they finally got it out, it was decidedly ho-hum or even worse," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.
"They've learned that you don't ship a product the first time around so that when it finally does appear people go 'What was all the fuss about?'" he said.
Larrabee, as we know now, was not ready for prime time. "It was for all intents [and] purposes an Intel project--a test bed, some might say a paper tiger," said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research, writing in a blog.
For better or worse, Intel is expected to forge ahead with Larrabee, with a real product not appearing until… Read more