Graphics specialist Nvidia's inaugural event preaches virtues of visual computing

Nvision hits San Jose

With a host of celebrities in attendance, Nvidia’s ambitious Nvision event, taking place across practically the whole of San Jose in the US, kicked off this week with its mission statement of promoting the idea of visual computing.

Welcomed to the stage by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang kicked off his keynote speech with a series of demos from various high tech applications based on GPU hardware.

Nvidia’s message that graphics technology can be used for much more than gaming was evident early on, with one of the first presentations centring on Stanford University’s Folding@home program. The CUDA accelerated version of the system uses 24,300 GPUs to power it – apparently providing 1.4 petaflops of power and dramatically speeding up the whole process.

Meanwhile, Realtime Technologies showed how GPU powered real time ray tracing is being used to design anything from aeroplanes to trainers, and Sportvision showed how sports commentary and analysis at events such as NASCAR is being aided by GPU accelerated programs.

Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight and Ames Research Centres gave presentations on various stellar phenomenon, while representatives from the University of Maryland explained how CUDA and GPUs are used for advanced astrophysics calculations.

On the gaming front, Nurien Software showed off its upcoming MMO (which looks like a cross between World of Warcraft and Facebook) and Futuremark Games Studio’s Shattered Horizon was held up as evidence of the capabilities of Nvidia’s PhysX platform.

The celebrity guests appearing periodically included Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, race driver Kyle Busch and Tracia Helfer – best known for her role in the remake of Battlestar Gallactica.

As well as the presentations, hoards of related exhibits from Nvidia and other firms drew in the crowds, as did a marathon LAN gaming event.

For a full review of the show see the October edition of PC Retail.

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