IDF Fall 2006 Opening Keynote

Paul Otellini kicks off IDF with the usual roundup of Intel innovations.

To highlight the power that quad core will bring, Otellini invited Markus Maki onto the stage. Markus is the Founder and Chairman of Remedy Entertainment, the game developer behind the superb Max Payne series.

Maki extolled the virtues of multi-core technology and how important a multi-core environment was to the future of video games. With this in mind, we were treated to a preview of Remedy’s forthcoming game – Alan Wake. Maki described Alan Wake as a psychological thriller of a game – if Remedy can do as good a job with the psychological thriller genre as it did with the detective genre (in Max Payne), we should be in for a treat.

Maki loaded up a demo of Alan Wake on a 3.73GHz Kentsfield quad-core machine, and it looked absolutely amazing. The locations looked photo-realistic, the lighting was breathtaking and the water effect looked more realistic than anything I’ve seen before. But the real story was when Maki turned on some environmental effects. He set off a tornado that proceeded to tear up the location, sweeping up cars and houses and throwing debris around. The result was stunning and was achievable by dedicating an entire CPU core to the physics engine.

Back in March I was quizzing Intel engineers about whether we’d see more gaming load shifted back to the CPU as the number of cores increased, and I guess Alan Wake answers that question. Of course this doesn’t bode well for dedicated physics processors, since the number of CPU cores is only going to increase.

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