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SIG: Nvidia’s Siggraph Announcements – RoundUp

Nvidia had a slew of great announcements at SIGGRAPH 2008 this year and below are summary highlights

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Nvidia First to Ship OpenGL 3.0

Nvidia at Siggraph announced the beta drivers for the new OpenGL 3.0 standard, implementing the cross-platform, 3D graphics standard API and the GLSL 1.30 shading language for both Windows XP and Windows Vista on selected GeForce and Quadro boards.

With these drivers any software developer can now explore the capabilities of the new OpenGL 3.0 standard on Windows systems. OpenGL 3.0 is a significant advancement for professional graphics and Nvidia is driving this standard forward, beating ATI (a division of AMD) to the punch with working drivers to support popular GeForce and Quadro GPU cards. New in OpenGL 3.0 are vertex array objects, enhanced vertex buffer objects, 32-bit floating-point textures, render and depth buffers, new texture compression schemes, sRGB frame buffers, and an upgraded shading language. More information on OpenGL 3.0 can be found here.

Nvidia Introduces World’s First Fully Interactive GPU-based Ray Tracer

In bigger news than OpenGL 3.0 drivers Nvidia demonstrated at Siggraph last week the world’s first fully interactive GPU-based ray tracer. Implemented solely on Nvidia’s graphics processing units (GPU) technology, the ray tracer shows linear scaling rendering of a highly complex, two-million polygon, anti-aliased automotive styling application. (see image below).

At three bounces of light performance was measured at up to 30fps (frames/sec.) at HD resolutions of 1920×1080 for an image-based lighting paint shader, ray traced shadows, reflections and refractions running on four next-generation Quadro GPUs in an Nvidia Quadro Plex 2100 D4 Visual Computing System (VCS).

This type of development portends to exciting things in the world of CAD and 3D in the not-too-distant future.

Nvidia Quadro FX

Nvidia also announced at Siggraph the new Nvidia Quadro FX notebook family of ultra high-performance graphics processors. Designed for the mobile workstation, Nvidia introduced a new family of Quadro FX mobile GPUs featuring Nvidia an CUDA Parallel Computing Processor.

Highlighting the new series is the Quadro FX 3700M with 128 CUDA Parallel Computing Processor cores, offering an unprecedented 1 GB of dedicated graphics memory. The Quadro FX2400M features 48 CUDA PCP cores and 512 MB of GDDR3 memory, while Quadro FX 1700M and 770M offer both 32 CUDA PCP cores.

Apple’s MacBook Pro is generally touted as a workstation-class, industry leading mobile computer. With a new modeljust around the corner it will be interesting to see if Apple adopts the new Quadro FX series of GPUs.

Finally in other Nvidia Siggraph news the graphics company has announced new Nvidia Quadro Plex Systems for the geoscience and scientific visualization markets. Designed to handle very large data sets Quadro Plex systems gang together multiple GPU systems into a single box (some for rack-mounting) that sit deskside. Quadro Plex systems start at 10,750.USD and will be available in September. Current operating system support includes Windows XP and 64-bit edition, Linux and Solaris x86. The system interface for hooking up the Quadro Plex unit is a standard PCIe x8 slot or x16 slot.

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