NVIDIA Taps GPUs For More Than Graphics


New Consumer Application Pack Uses NVIDIA CUDA Technology to Improve Performance Beyond Graphics on NVIDIA GeForce GPUs

SANTA CLARA, CA—August 12, 2008—Consumers want blazing fast performance—whether blasting their way through the latest game or being socially responsible and sharing their PC’s processing power to help find cures for diseases. Today, NVIDIA Corporation, the worldwide leader in visual computing technologies, just made this easier by releasing a set of non-graphics applications that utilize the power of its GeForce graphics cards. Included in the GeForce Power Pack are Stanford University’s [email protected] distributed-computing, protein-folding client and a trial version of Elemental Technologies’ Badaboom video transcoder. Available for download today at no-cost at www.nvidia.com/theforcewithin, these are part of a growing number of applications that use the power of NVIDIA GeForce graphics processing units (GPU) and NVIDIA CUDA™ C-programming technology to significantly improve the performance of non-graphics applications by transferring the workload from the CPU to the more efficient GPU.

All of the 80 million plus GeForce 8 Series and higher GPUs in the field are CUDA-enabled, the largest installed base of general-purpose, parallel-computing processors ever created. The same GPU architecture that delivers stunning onscreen computer graphics in video games is also ideal for many other types of applications. The latest generation of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs offer up to 240 processor cores, compared to a maximum of the four cores found on the highest-end CPU. Any process that can be divided into multiple elements and run in parallel can be programmed to take advantage of the massive processing potential of the GPU.

NVIDIA first released its CUDA programming technology in 2007, providing software developers a programming environment based on the industry-standard C language for easy creation of applications running on NVIDIA GPUs. Numerous commercial and scientific applications have adopted CUDA technology and now consumer applications are starting to emerge that take advantage of the technology.

“CUDA has the potential be a disruptive force in both the GPU and CPU industries,” says Anand Shimpi, CEO and editor-in-chief of AnandTech.com. “Apps like Badaboom, that solve significant problems for the home PC user, could give NVIDIA hardware a significant advantage over other GPUs and it points to the need for consumers to optimize their PCs so they have both decent CPU and GPU power.”

Elemental Technologies’ Badaboom is a video transcoding program that converts video files into other formats. For example, the program can convert an MPEG file to play on an iPod or other portable device. Video transcoding can be one of the most time-consuming tasks in home computing. Converting a two-hour movie, for instance, can take six or more hours when using the computer’s CPU. However, with Badaboom on the GPU, the conversion process can be up to 18 times faster than traditional methods, getting the job done in a few minutes and, in the meantime, also freeing the CPU to handle other tasks like email and Web browsing.

Tackling the intense processing demands of ongoing medical research, Stanford University’s [email protected] distributed computing program, gives consumers the opportunity to share their computer processing power in an effort to help find a cure for disease. Running up to 140 times faster on an NVIDIA GPU over a CPU, [email protected] makes use of idle computer cycles to perform scientific calculations. [email protected] studies protein folding, where proteins in our bodies assemble themselves. Biologists simulate protein folding in order to understand how proteins fold so quickly and reliably, and to discover what happens if they do not fold correctly. Diseases such as Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, BSE (Mad Cow disease), an inherited form of emphysema, and many cancers are believed to result from protein misfolding. The [email protected] client is a free program that runs in the background of the PC, allowing ordinary people to have a real impact in the search for a cure of these diseases.
The CUDA-enabled content from this first GeForce Power Pack are available for free from www.nvidia.com/theforcewithin. More information on the Badaboom video transcoder can be found at http://www.badaboomit.com and more information about [email protected] can be found at http://folding.stanford.edu.

Tags:  Nvidia, graphics, GPU, Graphic, ICS, AP, id, GPUs
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