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Chipmaker Nvidia Unveils High-Speed GPU Interconnect

Chipmaker Nvidia Unveils High-Speed GPU Interconnect
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Among other new products, Nvidia believes it has paved the way for a new generation of apps that tap computer vision, image processing and real-time data processing with the Nvidia Jetson TK1 Development Kit, which leverages compute capabilities for new computer-vision apps for the robotics, medical, avionics and auto industries.
 


Nvidia has rolled out a slew of new products, from a high-speed GPU connect that may pave the way for exascale computing to a new product design that could replace physical prototypes with interactive, photorealistic digital models and more.

We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on Nvidia’s market moves. He told us the company is going after a much broader swath of markets than it has ever pursued in the past.

“You could say that the announcements provide kind of a seed of evidence of the company’s broad market strategy and a very clear snapshot of a company that will not limit its ambitions to traditional markets,” King said. “Nvidia wants to play in areas that might be complementary to, but are also far beyond its traditional market in graphics cards and gaming.”

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the announcements.

The Power of NVLink

First, Nvidia announced plans to integrate a high-speed interconnect, dubbed NVLink, into its future GPUs. The company claims its innovation would allow GPUs and CPUs to share data five to 12 times faster than currently possibly and do away with bottlenecks. Ultimately, the tech could set the stage for a new generation of exascale supercomputers that are 50 to 100 times faster than today's most powerful systems.

Nvidia is adding the NVLink technology into its Pascal GPU architecture, which is scheduled to launch in 2016. The new interconnect was co-developed with IBM, which is incorporating it into future versions of its POWER CPUs.

"NVLink enables fast data exchange between CPU and GPU, thereby improving data throughput through the computing system and overcoming a key bottleneck for accelerated computing today," said Bradley McCredie, vice president and IBM Fellow at IBM.

"NVLink makes it easier for developers to modify high-performance and data analytics applications to take advantage of accelerated CPU-GPU systems. We think this technology represents another significant contribution to our OpenPOWER ecosystem," he said.

Nixing Physical Prototypes?

Next, Nvidia took the lid off a GPU rendering appliance that it said “dramatically accelerates” ray tracing. The idea is to make it possible for professional designers to interact with computer models of such high visual fidelity that it can essentially replace the costly and cumbersome process of building physical prototypes.

It’s called the Iray Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), and it combines hardware and software to accelerate the work of Nvidia Iray -- a photorealistic renderer integrated into design tools like Dassault Systèmes' CATIA and Autodesk's 3ds Max. Iray VCA systems will be available starting in summer through a global VAR network of certified system integrators. Pricing is $50,000 in North America. Honda is already using it. (continued...)

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