Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 1, 2014 - 04:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: VCA, nvidia, GTC 2014
NVIDIA launched a new visual computing appliance called the Iray VCA at the GPU Technology Conference last week. This new piece of enterprise hardware uses full GK 110 graphics cards to accelerate the company’s Iray renderer which is used to create photo realistic models in various design programs.
The Iray VCA specifically is a licensed appliance (hardware + software) that combines NVIDIA hardware and software. On the hardware side of things, the Iray VCA is powered by eight graphics cards, dual processors (unspecified but likely Intel Xeons based on usage in last year’s GRID VCA), 256GB of system RAM, and a 2TB SSD. Networking hardware includes two 10GbE NICs, two 1GbE NICs, and one Infiniband connection. In total, the Iray VCA features 20 CPU cores and 23,040 CUDA cores. The GPUs used are based on the full GK110 die and are paired with 12GB of memory each.
Even better, it is a scalable solution such that companies can add additional Iray VCAs to the network. The appliances reportedly transparently accelerate the Iray accelerated renders done on designer’s workstations. NVIDIA reports that an Iray VCA is approximately 60-times faster than a Quadro K5000-powered workstation. Further, according to NVIDIA, 19 Iray VCAs working together amounts to 1 PetaFLOP of compute performance which is enough to render photo realistic simulations using 1 billion rays with up to hundreds of thousands of bounces.
The Iray VCA enables some rather impressive real time renders of 3D models with realistic physical properties and lighting. The models are light simulations that use ray tracing, global illumination and other techniques to show photo realistic models using up to billions of rays of light. NVIDIA is positioning the Iray VCA as an alternative to physical prototyping, allowing designers to put together virtual prototypes that can be iterated and changed at significantly less cost and time.
Iray itself is NVIDIA’s GPU-accelerated photo realistic renderer. The Iray technology is used in a number of design software packages. The Iray VCA is meant to further accelerate that Iray renderer by throwing massive amounts of parallel processing hardware at the resource intensive problem over the network (the Iray VCAs can be installed at a data center or kept on site). Initially the Iray VCA will support 3ds Max, Catia, Bunkspeed, and Maya, but NVIDIA is working on supporting all Iray accelerated software with the VCA hardware.
The virtual prototypes can be sliced and examined and can even be placed in real world environments by importing HDR photos. Jen-Hsun Huang demonstrated this by placing Honda’s vehicle model on the GTC stage (virtually).
In fact, one of NVIDIA’s initial partners with the Iray VCA is Honda. Honda is currently beta testing a cluster of 25 Iray VCAs to refine styling designs for cars and their interiors based on initial artistic work. Honda Research and Development System Engineer Daisuke Ide was quoted by NVIDIA as stating that “Our TOPS tool, which uses NVIDIA Iray on our NVIDIA GPU cluster, enables us to evaluate our original design data as if it were real. This allows us to explore more designs so we can create better designs faster and more affordably.”
The Iray VCA (PDF) will be available this summer for $50,000. The sticker price includes the hardware, Iray license, and the first year of updates and maintenance. This is far from consumer technology, but it is interesting technology that may be used in the design process of your next car or other major purchase.
What do you think about the Iray VCA and NVIDIA's licensed hardware model?
Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 02:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: W9100, video, titan z, poseidon 780, podcast, Oculus, nvidia, GTC, GDC
PC Perspective Podcast #293 - 03/27/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Week in Review:
0:37:07 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Josh: Certainly not a Skype Connection to the Studio
Allyn: Continuous ink conversions
Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 01:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pascal, nvlink, nvidia, maxwell, jen-hsun huang, GTC
Before we get to see Volta in action NVIDIA is taking a half step and releasing the Pascal architecture which will use Maxwell-like Streaming Multiprocessors and will introduce stacked or 3D memory which will reside on the same substrate as the GPU. Jen-Hsun claimed this new type of memory will vastly increase the bandwidth available, provide two and a half times the capacity and be four times as energy efficient at the same time. Along with the 3D memory announcement was the revealing of NVLink, an alternative interconnect which he claims will offer 5-12 times the bandwidth of PCIe and will be utilized by HPC systems. From his announcement that NVLink will feature eight 20Gbps lanes per block or as NVIDIA is calling them, bricks, which The Tech Report used to make a quick calculation and came up with an aggregate bandwidth of a brick of around 20GB/s. Read on to see what else was revealed.
"Today during his opening keynote at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered an update to Nvidia's GPU roadmap. The big reveal was about a GPU code-named Pascal, which will be a generation beyond the still-being-introduced Maxwell architecture in the firm's plans."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia, VMware join to pipe high-quality 3D graphics from the cloud @ The Register
- Android has 97 Percent of Mobile Malware, But Nearly None in the U.S. @ DailyTech
- Amazon HALVES cloud storage prices after Google's shock slash @ The Register
- Bitcoin mining malware hits Android @ The Inquirer
- Facebook Oculus VR buy causes rift with developers and tech fans @ The Inquirer
- iSAW EXtreme Action Camera @ Kitguru
- Netgear VueZone VZSX2800 Wireless Surveillance Camera Kit @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 08:49 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: remote graphics, nvidia, GTC 2014, gpgpu, emerging companies summit, ecs 2014, cloud computing
NVIDIA started the Emerging Companies Summit six years ago, and since then the event has grown in size and scope to identify and support those technology companies tha leverage (or plan to leverage) GPGPU computing to deliver innovative products. The ECS continues to be a platform for new startups to showcase their work at the annual GPU Technology Conference. NVIDIA provides support in the form of legal, developmental, and co-marketing to the companies featured at ECS.
There was an interesting twist this year though in the form of the Early Start Challenge. This is a new aspect to ECS in addition to the ‘One to Watch’ award. I attended the Emerging Companies Summit again this year and managed to snag some photos and participate in the Early Start Challenge (disclosure: i voted for Audiostream TV).
The 12 Early Start Challenge contestants take the stage at once to await the vote tally.
During the challenge, 12 selected startup companies were each given eight minutes on stage to pitch their company and why their innovations were deserving of the $100,000 grand prize. The on stage time was divided into a four minute presentation and a four minute Q&A session with the panel of judges (this year the audience was not part of the Q&A session at ECS unlike last year due to time constraints).
After all 12 companies had their chance on stage, the panel of judges and the audience submitted their votes for the most innovative startup. The panel of judges included:
- Scott Budman Business & Technology Reporter, NBC
- Jeff Herbst Vice President of Business Development, NVIDIA
- Jens Hortsmann Executive Producer & Managing Partner, Crestlight Venture Productions
- Pat Moorhead President & Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
- Bill Reichert Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures
The companies participating in the challenge include Okam Studio, MyCloud3D, Global Valuation, Brytlyt, Clarifai, Aerys, oMobio, ShiVa Technologies, IGI Technologies, Map-D, Scalable Graphics, and AudioStream TV. The companies are involved in machine learning, deep neural networks, computer vision, remote graphics, real time visualization, gaming, and big data analytics.
After all the votes were tallied, Map-D was revealed to be the winner and received a check for $100,000 from NVIDIA Vice President of Business Development Jeff Herbst.
Jeff Herbst awarding Map-D's CEO with the Early Start Challenge grand prize check. From left to right: Scott Budman, Jeff Herbst, and Thomas Graham.
Map-D is a company that specializes in a scaleable in-memory GPU database that promises millisecond queries directly from GPU memory (with GPU memory bandwidth being the bottleneck) and very fast database inserts. The company is working with Facebook and PayPal to analyze data. In the case of Facebook, Map-D is being used to analyze status updates in real time to identify malicious behavior. The software can be scaled across eight NVIDIA Tesla cards to analyze a billion Twitter tweets in real time.
It is specialized software, but extremely useful within its niche. Hopefully the company puts the prize money to good use in furthering its GPGPU endeavors. Although there was only a single grand prize winner, I found all the presentations interesting and look forward to seeing where they go from here.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 09:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: GTC 2014, tegra k1, nvidia, CUDA, kepler, jetson tk1, development
NVIDIA recently unified its desktop and mobile GPU lineups by moving to a Kepler-based GPU in its latest Tegra K1 mobile SoC. The move to the Kepler architecture has simplified development and enabled the CUDA programming model to run on mobile devices. One of the main points of the opening keynote earlier today was ‘CUDA everywhere,’ and NVIDIA has officially accomplished that goal by having CUDA compatible hardware from servers to desktops to tablets and embedded devices.
Speaking of embedded devices, NVIDIA showed off a new development board called the Jetson TK1. This tiny new board features a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC at its heart along with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC storage. The Jetson TK1 supports a plethora of IO options including an internal expansion port (GPIO compatible), SATA, one half-mini PCI-e slot, serial, USB 3.0, micro USB, Gigabit Ethernet, analog audio, and HDMI video outputs.
Of course the Tegra K1 part is a quad core (4+1) ARM CPU and a Kepler-based GPU with 192 CUDA cores. The SoC is rated at 326 GFLOPS which enables some interesting compute workloads including machine vision.
In fact, Audi has been utilizing the Jetson TK1 development board to power its self-driving prototype car (more on that soon). Other intended uses for the new development board include robotics, medical devices, security systems, and perhaps low power compute clusters (such as an improved Pedraforca system).It can also be used as a simple desktop platform for testing and developing mobile applications for other Tegra K1 powered devices, of course.
Beyond the hardware, the Jetson TK1 comes with the CUDA toolkit, OpenGL 4.4 driver, and NVIDIA VisionWorks SDK which includes programming libraries and sample code for getting machine vision applications running on the Tegra K1 SoC.
The Jetson TK1 is available for pre-order now at $192 and is slated to begin shipping in April. Interested developers can find more information on the NVIDIA developer website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield, nvidia
The SHIELD from NVIDIA is getting a software update which advances GameStream, TegraZone, and the Android OS, itself, to KitKat. Personally, the GameStream enhancements seem most notable as it now allows users to access their home PC's gaming content outside of the home, as if it were a cloud server (but some other parts were interesting, too). Also, from now until the end of April, NVIDIA has temporarily cut the price down to $199.
Going into more detail: GameStream, now out of Beta, will stream games which are rendered on your gaming PC to your SHIELD. Typically, we have seen this through "cloud" services, such as OnLive and GaiKai, which allow access to a set of games that run on their servers (with varying license models). The fear with these services is the lack of ownership, but the advantage is that the slave device just needs enough power to decode an HD video stream.
In NVIDIA's case, the user owns both server (their standard NVIDIA-powered gaming PC, which can now be a laptop) and target device (the SHIELD). This technology was once limited to your own network (which definitely has its uses, especially for the SHIELD as a home theater device) but now can also be exposed over the internet. For this technology, NVIDIA recommends 5 megabit upload and download speeds - which is still a lot of upload bandwidth, even for 2014. In terms of performance, NVIDIA believes that it should live up to expectations set by their GRID. I do not have any experience with this, but others on the conference call took it as good news.
As for content, NVIDIA has expanded the number of supported titles to over a hundred, including new entries: Assassin's Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Daylight, Titanfall, and Dark Souls II. They also claim that users can add other apps which are not officially supported, Halo 2: Vista was mentioned as an example, for streaming. FPS and Bitrate can now be set by the user. A bluetooth mouse and keyboard can also be paired to SHIELD for that input type through GameStream.
Yeah, I don't like checkbox comparisons either. It's just a summary.
A new TegraZone was also briefly mentioned. Its main upgrade was apparently its library interface. There has also been a number of PC titles ported to Android recently, such as Mount and Blade: Warband.
The update is available now and the $199 promotion will last until the end of April.
Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 02:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Portal, GTC 2014, gaming, nvidia
During the opening keynote of NVIDIA's GTC 2014 conference, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Valve had ported the ever-popular "Portal" game to the NVIDIA SHIELD handheld gaming platform.
The game appeared to run smoothly on the portable device, and is a worthy addition to the catalog of local games that can be run on the SHIELD.
Additionally, while the cake may still be a lie, portable gaming systems apparently are not as Jen-Hsun Huang revealed that all GTC attendees will be getting a free SHIELD.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on all the opening keynote announcements and their implications for the future of computing!
GPU Technology Conference 2014 resources:
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 780 video card is the latest incarnation of the Republic of Gamer (ROG) Poseidon series. Like the previous Poseidon series products, the Poseidon GTX 780 features a hybrid cooler, capable of air and liquid-based cooling for the GPU and on board components. The AUS ROG Poseidon GTX 780 graphics card comes with an MSRP of $599, a premium price for a premium card .
Courtesy of ASUS
In designing the Poseidon GTX 780 graphics card, ASUS packed in many of premium components you would normally find as add-ons. Additionally, the card features motherboard quality power components, featuring a 10 phase digital power regulation system using ASUS DIGI+ VRM technology coupled with Japanese black metallic capacitors. The Poseidon GTX 780 has the following features integrated into its design: DisplayPort output port, HDMI output port, dual DVI ports (DVI-D and DVI-I type ports), aluminum backplate, integrated G 1/4" threaded liquid ports, dual 90mm cooling fans, 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe-style power connectors, and integrated power connector LEDs and ROG logo LED.
Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 12:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, gdc 14, GDC, amd, Intel
DX12 and its Mantle-like qualities garnered the most interest from gamers at GDC but an odd trio of companies were also pushing a different API. OpenGL has been around for over 20 years and has waged a long war against Direct3D, a war which may be intensifying again. Representatives from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA all took to the stage to praise the new OpenGL standard, suggesting that with a tweaked implementation of OpenGL developers could expect to see performance increases between 7 to 15 times. The Inquirer has embedded an hour long video in their story, check it out to learn more.
"CHIP DESIGNERS AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC)."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 152: Intel's new desktop mojo, DX12, and TR does subscriptions
- DirectX 12 will also add new features for next-gen GPUs @ The Tech Report
- Malwarebytes offers Windows XP security support before Microsoft's April deadline @ The Inquirer
- Slow SSD Transition and The Consumer Mindset – Learning to Run With Flash @ SSD Review
- AMD Is Exploring A Very Interesting, More-Open Linux Driver Strategy @ Phoronix
- AT&T and Netflix get into very public spat over net neutrality @ The Register
DX11 could rival Mantle
The big story at GDC last week was Microsoft’s reveal of DirectX 12 and the future of the dominant API for PC gaming. There was plenty of build up to the announcement with Microsoft’s DirectX team posting teasers and starting up a Twitter account of the occasion. I hosted a live blog from the event which included pictures of the slides. It was our most successful of these types of events with literally thousands of people joining in the conversation. Along with the debates over the similarities of AMD’s Mantle API and the timeline for DX12 release, there are plenty of stories to be told.
After the initial session, I wanted to setup meetings with both AMD and NVIDIA to discuss what had been shown and get some feedback on the planned direction for the GPU giants’ implementations. NVIDIA presented us with a very interesting set of data that both focused on the future with DX12, but also on the now of DirectX 11.
The reason for the topic is easy to decipher – AMD has built up the image of Mantle as the future of PC gaming and, with a full 18 months before Microsoft’s DirectX 12 being released, how developers and gamers respond will make an important impact on the market. NVIDIA doesn’t like to talk about Mantle directly, but it’s obvious that it feels the need to address the questions in a roundabout fashion. During our time with NVIDIA’s Tony Tamasi at GDC, the discussion centered as much on OpenGL and DirectX 11 as anything else.
What are APIs and why do you care?
For those that might not really understand what DirectX and OpenGL are, a bit of background first. APIs (application programming interface) are responsible for providing an abstraction layer between hardware and software applications. An API can deliver consistent programming models (though the language can vary) and do so across various hardware vendors products and even between hardware generations. They can provide access to feature sets of hardware that have a wide range in complexity, but allow users access to hardware without necessarily knowing great detail about it.
Over the years, APIs have developed and evolved but still retain backwards compatibility. Companies like NVIDIA and AMD can improve DirectX implementations to increase performance or efficiency without adversely (usually at least) affecting other games or applications. And because the games use that same API for programming, changes to how NVIDIA/AMD handle the API integration don’t require game developer intervention.
With the release of AMD Mantle, the idea of a “low level” API has been placed in the minds of gamers and developers. The term “low level” can mean many things, but in general it is associated with an API that is more direct, has a thinner set of abstraction layers, and uses less translation from code to hardware. The goal is to reduce the amount of overhead (performance hit) that APIs naturally impair for these translations. With additional performance available, the CPU cycles can be used by the program (game) or be slept to improve battery life. In certain cases, GPU throughput can increase where the API overhead is impeding the video card's progress.
Passing additional control to the game developers, away from the API or GPU driver developers, gives those coders additional power and improves the ability for some vendors to differentiate. Interestingly, not all developers want this kind of control as it requires more time, more development work, and small teams that depend on that abstraction to make coding easier will only see limited performance advantages.
The reasons for this transition to a lower level API is being driven the by widening gap of performance between CPU and GPUs. NVIDIA provided the images below.
On the left we see performance scaling in terms of GFLOPS and on the right the metric is memory bandwidth. Clearly the performance of NVIDIA's graphics chips has far outpaced (as have AMD’s) what the best Intel desktop processor have been able and that gap means that the industry needs to innovate to find ways to close it.