Intel tried to push back at coverage of a recently published paper that found its Core i7 processors couldn't match the parallel processing performance of an Nvidia GPU, saying its rival took the findings of the paper out of context in a blog post that trumpeted the results.
"Nvidia picked up on a small part of the paper and took it out of context," said Nick Knupffer, an Intel spokesman, in an email.
[ Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. ]
However, the paper's findings were clear. Titled "Debunking the 100x GPU vs. CPU myth: An evaluation of throughput computing on CPU and GPU," the paper was written by Intel engineers and sought to discredit claims that GPUs outperform CPUs by a wide margin in parallel processing applications. Nevertheless, the paper still found that one of Intel's fastest quad-core desktop processors, the 3.2GHz Core i7 960, was markedly slower than an older Nvidia graphics card, the GeForce GTX280, in benchmark tests conducted by the engineers.
"Our data shows that GTX280 only has an average of 2.5X performance advantage over Core i7 in the 14 kernels tested," the paper said, noting that the Nvidia GPU was more than 14 times faster under some circumstances.
Nvidia discussed the paper's findings in a blog post that questioned the magnitude of the GPU performance advantage described in Intel's paper, providing links to 10 customers who documented performance increases of 100 times or more using software that was optimized to run on GPUs.
The company also noted Intel researchers didn't publish the software code and data they used to conduct the benchmark tests. Without that information, it's impossible to repeat Intel's tests to confirm the paper's findings or to understand how the code was optimized for the chips.
"It's just bad science," said Andy Keane, general manager of GPU computing at Nvidia and the author of the blog post, discussing the paper in an interview.
Despite their rivalry, Intel and Nvidia readily agree on the importance of parallel processing capabilities. The only disagreement between them is whether the CPU or GPU is the component that's best suited to handling these parallel processing workloads, an argument largely based on their respective product strengths.
Intel, which dominates the market for x86 CPUs, believes that its chips have the necessary power to handle these workloads, whereas Nvidia -- the world's largest provider of discrete, or standalone, graphics chips -- thinks using the GPU is a better choice. Advanced Micro Devices, which sells both GPUs and x86 CPUs, shares Nvidia's view that GPUs can offer a significant performance boost in certain types of applications.
The Intel paper generally reinforces the position held by Nvidia and AMD by acknowledging that the GTX280 holds a performance advantage over the Core i7 960 when it comes to parallel processing.