|NVIDIA Editors Day 2008|
|News - Featured Website News|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 24 May 2008|
Page 2 of 4
Beyond Traditional Graphics
David Kirk: Chief Scientist
As an enthusiast, I have a hard a hard time adapting to technologies that I don't interface with on a regular basis. Technologies such as Ray Tracing, Global Illumination, and Radiosity all play an important role in delivering first order reflections of light by the GPU. David Kirk, the Chief Scientist within NVIDIA, gave a worthy effort towards explaining the free CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) programming tool to a crowd of editors more hell-bent on video game frame rates. Thankfully, there were relevant ties into the consumer markets, and the discussion on enterprise computing harnessed by the GPU transitioned into a discussion on how the industry can use Ray Tracing to make more realistic graphics in video games.
Keeping in mind products like the Sony Playstation 3 utilizes an NVIDIA GPU, and because of this there's a new opportunity for developers to take advantage of Ray Tracing in future platform products; although there was very little speculation that there might be a widespread adoption during the Playstation 3's lifetime.
John Milner: Director of CUDA Development
John Milner, the Director of CUDA Development, stepped up to help bridge the gap in consumer understanding of the compute technology and what specific applications it benefits. CUDA helps transform GPUs from the GeForce, Quadro, and Tesla platforms into a compute environment. It became clear despite the extraneous use of programming terms that almost anything that uses a GUI or graphical display could ultimately benefit from the CUDA profiles. From white-matter brain scans to CAD-level applications, the 100 GBps worth of streaming compute bandwidth, CUDA offers the opportunity for basic code developers all the way up to HPC program writers to take advantage of the free programming.
Later in his briefing John demonstrated how Hanwech Associates Volera, one of CUDA's early independent adopters, has now been given the ability to compute worldwide market financial valuations in mere minutes (using last generation hardware), whereas previously it took weeks. Another key demonstration showed how CUDA could lend itself to speeding AutoDock cancer-research scans up to 12x faster than previous results, allowing for a much quicker response and diagnosis. So far the information was very exciting; but not nearly as exciting as how these developments were all done via free SDK download without NVIDIA assistance.
The private-sector industries really seemed to have given CUDA the proper porting and made out ten-fold for their efforts. Engineers will rejoice in a 17x improvement in MATLAB processing times using last generation (8800-series) GPU hardware, for example. The theme Mr. Milner impressed was the fact most developers obtained their results for free, and only submitted their results after the fact... meaning NVIDIA released it, and everyone else took the technology and ran with it. CUDA is available for FREE from NVIDIA here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_home.html
What's the Graphics Architecture?
As the day wore on, I began to feel that the GeForce 9800 series was really more of a clearinghouse for the G92 GPU. When Tony Tamasi returned to give his lecture on the architecture of the GeForce GPU, my feelings were confirmed. It amazed me how different the end-goal was between a CPU manufacturer, and the goals of a GPU manufacturer such as NVIDIA. While Intel keeps loading the processor with a growing cache buffer and refining their fabrication process to achive higher speeds, NVIDIA designs a GPU that is really made to compute to a higher level by increasing the number of processor cores.