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Rumors that Intel's new Larrabee Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) may power Sony's next generation game console, here tanatively called the PlayStation 4, have been spreading like wildfire. Intel is aiming to have a high-end product that may even be able to beat the offerings from the current big two high-end graphics card producers, Nvidia and ATI (AMD).

It makes sense that Intel would try to get Larrabee on to at least one console based on how well consoles sell for gaming. Since Larrabee is intended to be a high end product, it would make sense for Intel to work specifically with Sony if the high-end PlayStation 3 is any indicator of what we can expect from the fourth iteration of the console.

Larrabee would clearly shine on a console, where some games would be written with the GPU specifically in mind and therefore be able to take advantage of the specific advantages of the GPU (as opposed to computer games, which are almost always designed to be compatible across powerful enough offerings from the major players).

If the Larrabee were to make its way on to one or more consoles, it would certainly be good for Intel due to the amount of sales that a console would bring as well as the publicity such a deal would likely get.

The question is, however, will this happen? Certainly, there is a risk. Intel has made huge claims with Larrabee. There is the danger that Intel might not be able to come through with what they have promised with the first generation product. Intel may be able to swing Sony or another console manufacturer by showing them what they actually have. The bottom line will still be that there is a risk for any console manufacturer who chooses Larrabee. On the other hand, they already know what they would be dealing with from ATI and Nvidia. At the same time, there is no doubt that if Intel does come through with Larrabee they will have a strong product, so the chance may be one worth taking.

Recently, the rumor has been fueled by an article from The Inquirer claiming that Larrabee will indeed power the PlayStation 4. I'm not going to guess as to whether or not the information is accurate; there have been a long history of incorrectly confirmed (and denied) rumors in the technology world, so it hardly seems worth betting on.

Perhaps, if Sony has decided to go with Larrabee, they will eliminate the Cell processor from their console. Many developers were unhappy with Sony's choice because of the complexity of writing code for the architecture and using it to its full potential. Perhaps Sony plans to switch to a standard Power processor, or even an offering from Intel.

One thing to consider is that, with current economic conditions, any of the console makers would have to have a reason to use Larrabee. The article from The Inquirer states that Intel is paying Sony for the deal. At the very least, a large discount would make sense.

Another interesting possibility is that if the PlayStation 4 were to run on an Intel processor, Sony may be able to market it as an easy platform to port existing PC games to, which would certainly please many developers. Also, the PlayStation 4 may be able to run a standard x86 Linux distribution which could run all Linux games and applications if Sony were to go with an Intel x86 processor for their console. The danger of this is that Sony would either have to use a software emulator or a put a Cell processor in the PlayStation 4 if they wanted it to retain backwards compatibility with the PlayStation 3.

Only the future will tell whether or not Larrabee will be found in the PlayStation 4, or any other console for that matter.


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