Monday, December 15, 2008

News Alert: Intel Visual Computing Summit

I was an Intel attendee at the Visual Computing Summit last week.

You can see from the agenda that this was a serious event, with on-target topics and high-level speakers.

What you cannot see from the agenda is that the attendees were also high-level. By this I mean decision makers; CEOs, CTOs, VP’s of Business Development, VPs of Development, senior level architects and engineers, a great crew.

At DreamWorks we got to see clips from the forthcoming “Monsters vs Aliens” in 3D as well as hear Jeffrey Katzenberg talk about storytelling and technology. It’s no secret that DreamWorks is investing in 3D movies. I helped get stereo support in DirectX7, so in general I am a proponent of advanced features like this. But how effective this new generation of stereo is, it has really come a long way. And having the work be done on the production side, instead of only as a post-processing step like back in DirectX7, really frees the films designers to leverage the technology. It looks like DreamWorks has a solid handle on the distribution side too, so this may be a way to bring life back to the theater experience. The studio’s campus is way cool too.

Thursday was the 1st day of sessions, kicked off by Renee James. This is the 2nd time I have seen her speak, and she delivered a really strong opening to the summit. Then it was off to breakout sessions and featured presenters. These were so high-quality I wished I could have attended all of them, but let me give you the flavor of a few of them.

Chas Boyd, D3D Architect, had a breakout session where he talked about D3D11 and how Compute Shaders unlock more potential in the GPU. If it isn’t clear yet, Intel intends Larrabee to be a great D3D device, so developers who don’t want to take special advantage of Larrabee features will still get to see their titles run. And its no secret that there are two other modes to use to program Larrabee:
1) a hybrid or mixed mode where D3D is used as much as the developer wants and only specific features are moved to Larrabee native
2) full-on native where the developer moves everything to Larrabee native

Gabe Newell gave a breakout session on Steam, and how the gaming and customer mix has changed over time and how Steam data helps him make decisions.

Will Wright gave a great talk even though he deviated from his original topics. Even with the great content in the other talks, this may have been the high-water mark of the conference. Will is just flat out an engaging speaker and it was a pleasure to be there for this talk.

The Havok breakout session by David Coghlan was also interesting, and it is clear Larrabee is about more than just graphics.

Thursday night we all played poker, at an event managed by the World Poker Tour. I suck at poker, but it was a great time and felt like the real deal. The last table was a treat; they were up on stage and being filmed and professionally announced for the entire time. As a consolation prize, I picked up a hat for my brother who is serious about poker. And the hand-rolled cigars were great.

Friday Pat Gelsinger talked about how serious Intel is about the Larrabee hardware project and what the long-term goals are. And then Elliot Garbus talked about the Larrabee software side and what Intel is doing to support Larrabee and developers who adopt it.

Doug Carmean, Intel Fellow and Larrabee Chief Architect, had a breakout session where he talked about the hardware architecture, with more details on the hardware than we gave out at SIGGRAPH 2008; since this was an RS-NDA event.

Steve Junkins, Principal Engineer and Larrabee Software Architect, had a breakout session where he talked about the hybrid and native software programming model to give attendees a feel for developing on Larrabee.

And the Project Offset team gave the last session of the show with a discussion about what the Offset engine is doing with Larrabee and a demo. Offset should be the perfect showcase title for Larrabee.

And Renee book-ended her opening talk with closing remarks.

All in all this was quite a roster of speakers and demos. The atmosphere was intense and the discussions in the hallways and the bars afterwards were electric. It was exciting to talk architecture and possibilities with a wide range of industry people; I have to say this was one of the best events I have attended in the last 5 years.

And I believe it went above and beyond the goals of impressing the audience and through them the industry that:
1) Intel gets PC gaming and is a great partner for PC gaming ISVs,
2) Intel is deadly serious about Larrabee and the Larrabee architecture and it is going to change the face of PC computing with Larrabee.

Now back to the programming articles.



Hello. I'm Kataphrakt on the Project Offset forums. It's good to hear a recap of the summit. Thanks a lot!



thanks, the Summit was great and Offset is looking amazing.



Great Report Phil!

I like the 'deadly serious' recap. There needs to be a PUSH in the industry to move past the comfort zones and start producing real hi-tech 3D with support for it. Light that fire!

and have a GREAT Holiday Season!