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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Nvidia Unveils Updated Tegra, GPU Roadmap at GTC 2013

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang kicked off the company's annual GPU Technology Conference in San Jose this morning, unveilling the company's new Tegra roadmap and graphics chips.

Nvidia's Maxwell graphics chip is due in 2014 and will use virtual memory shared by the GPU and host CPU. Maxwell is coming with unified virtual memory, which makes it possible for GPU operations to see the CPU memory and vice versa, so programability is easier. The approach, likely implemented in Nvidia's proprietary Cuda environment, is similar to what AMD is enabling with its HSA group supported by ARM, Microsoft and others.

After that is Volta, which is even more energy efficient, which has a new technology called stacked DRAM. Available in 2015, Volta graphics processor will be the first to use stacked memory with through-silicon vias, similar to the Hyper Memory Cube defined by Micron.

Nvidia says Volta will solve one of the biggest challenges facing GPUs today, which is access to memory bandwidth. With Volta, Nvidia willl prevent from getting off its chip onto a PC board - it will have DRAM on same silica sub-strate, which will carry a whole bunch of DRAMs stacked atop each other. Nvidia will cut a hole through the silicon and connect each layer. This is expected to achieve one terabyte per second of bandwidth.

Regarding mobile processors, Nvidia will also start offering samples of the Tegra5, aka Logan, this year. This will be the company's first mobile processor to feature a Kepler GPU, it support its Cuda environment for general-purpose graphics. It also supports OpenGL 4.3 and will be in production in 2014.

In 2015, Nvidia will also pack a Maxwell core along with its first 64-bit ARM design into a sixth-generation Tegra chip called Parker. The device is the first of Nvidia's Project Denver designs and the first 64 bit ARM processor coupled with Nvidia's next-gen GPU Maxwell. It will be the first to use FinFET transistors, said Jen-Hsun Huang.

Nvidia's designers also built a powerful ARM computer based on a super-low power GPU combined with ARM. The new Kayla platform pairs a powerful Tegra mobile processor with an NVIDIA Kepler-based GPU to support a suite of technologies that have never appeared on mobile devices before - including CUDA 5 and Open GL 4.3.

Kayla offers a sneak-peak at the capabilities that will be unleashed by Logan. "What's amazing is that Logan will be the size of a dime, whereas Kayla is now the size of a tablet PC" Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said.

Support for Open GL 4.3 will unleash advanced desktop-class graphics capabilities - such as tessellation and compute shaders - that are the building blocks for cutting-edge PC games.

And CUDA 5, a sophisticated parallel computing framework, will unlock the ability to tackle complex computer vision problems, such as face and object recognition.

Also at GTC, Nvidia is rolling out its Grid Enterprise initiative. It consists of a new layer of systems and software to provide business users virtualized access to apps running on Nvidia graphics processors.

Dell, HP and IBM are offering NVIDIA GRID-based servers. Citrix, Microsoft and VMware are offering NVIDIA GRID-enabled software.

At the heart of NVIDIA GRID enterprise solutions are NVIDIA GRID VGX software -- a complete stack of GPU virtualization, remoting and management libraries -- and NVIDIA GRID K1 and K2 boards, which are purpose-built for demanding server environments.

NVIDIA VGX software unlocks the virtualization and remoting capabilities of NVIDIA GRID GPUs and is licensed by Citrix for use in XenDesktop, XenApp and XenServer; VMware for use in vSphere and Horizon View; and Microsoft for use in RemoteFX.

NVIDIA GRID K1 boards, which include four NVIDIA Kepler architecture-based GPUs and 16GB of memory, are designed to host the maximum number of concurrent users. NVIDIA GRID K2 boards, which include two higher end Kepler GPUs and 8GB of memory, are designed to serve the specific needs of users of graphics-intensive applications.

Dell, HP and IBM announced servers with the NVIDIA GRID K1 and K2 boards, including the Dell PowerEdge R720; the HP ProLiant WS460c Gen8 and HP ProLiant SL250 Gen8 and the IBM iDataPlex dx360 M4.

NVIDIA has launched a certification program and testing center where leading OEMs and ISV partners can validate and certify solutions. To accelerate deployment-ready validated designs, NVIDIA and Citrix are working together to establish an NVIDIA and Citrix Ready verification program offering fast track validation to OEMs and ISVs on NVIDIA GRID K1 and K2 cards and Citrix XenDesktop solutions.

NVIDIA also introduced the first visual computing appliance -- enabling businesses to deliver ultra-fast GPU performance to any Windows, Linux or Mac client on their network.

The NVIDIA GRID Visual Computing Appliance (VCA) is a GPU-based system that runs complex applications such as those from Adobe Systems Incorporated, Autodesk and Dassault Systemes, and sends their graphics output over the network to be displayed on a client computer.

NVIDIA GRID VCA provides flexibility to small and medium-size businesses with limited IT infrastructures. Their employees can, through the simple click of an icon, create a virtual machine called a workspace. These workspaces -- which are, effectively, dedicated, high-performance GPU-based systems -- can be added, deleted or reallocated as needed.

NVIDIA GRID VCA is a 4U appliance. Its 16 NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA GRID VGX software provide NVIDIA Quadro-class graphics performance for up to 16 concurrent users, with low latency, high resolution and maximum interactivity for unparalleled quality of service.

Available in the United States in May, NVIDIA GRID VCA is offered in 8 GPU or 16 GPU configurations, with pricing starting at $24,900, plus an annual software license of $2,400.

Jen Hsun Huang also said he "hopes" the Project Shield portable handheld gaming device will be available through retail outlets in the latter part of the second quarter.

The Shield combines an Android-based computer running on a Tegra 4 processor with a 5-inch display. Nvidia expects the handheld will attract developers to produce better games for Android, some of which will appear in Nvidia's Tegra Zone gaming app store.

Jen-Hsun Huang also commented on Microsoft's Windows RT software, saying that devices using the OS aren't selling very well.

"Windows RT is disappointing to us because we expected to have sold more than we did," Huang said. "Everybody expected to have sold more than we did."

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