This is the third time that ABT has been priviledged to cover Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2012), May 14-17, 2012. The very first article that this editor wrote for AlienBabelTech covered Nvision08 – which was a combination of LAN party and GPU computing. technology conference. The second time was the following year at GTC 2009 when it was held in the Fairmont Hotel, also in San Jose.
Well, things have certainly grown. Nvidia is using the San Jose Convention Center for their venue – returning to their original venue for Nvision08. And this time it is also much bigger and greatly expanded to four days from a three day conference. The Keynote speech delivered by Nvidia’s superstar CEO Jensen highlighted the rapid growth of GPU computing from humble beginnings. What was really surprising is Nvidia’s foray into cloud computing - including gaming - where “convenience” is the keyword.
Of course, Nvidia is also a hardware company, and two major announcements were made regarding the new Kepler GPUs for Tesla and Quadro – Nvidia’s professional market to which this conference is directed. First up, is the Tesla K10 – based on GK104 and available shortly.
K10 is the Tesla version of the GTX 690 – a dual GPU with single precision that is directed at Computing and it especially has uses for oil and gas research, national defense including signal and image processing, and industry. It will be available this month and a single Tesla K10 accelerator board features two GK104 Kepler GPUs that deliver a combined performance of 4.58 teraflops of peak single-precision floating point and 320 GB per second memory bandwidth.
Available later in Q4 this year will be Nvidia’s flagship GPU based on GF110 Kepler. This GPU delivers three times more double precision compared to Fermi architecture-based Tesla products and it supports the Hyper-Q and dynamic parallelism capabilities. The GK110 GPU is expected to be incorporated into the new Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee as well as other supercomputers. Here is the chip itself – 7.1 Billion transistors, the most complex piece of silicon anywhere!
Tesla’s K20 should have three times the double precision capabilities of K10. Here is the K20 as it should look when it is released in Q4:
Of course, Nvidia won’t speak publically about it’s gaming GPU based on GK110, but it is logical that it will be released after the professional market is satisfied. TSMC still has less capacity and much less production than Nvidia would like as it appears that they are easily selling out of every GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 670 that they can make.
Nvidia’s CEO delivers the Keynote that defines the GTC
Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang (aka “Jensen”) delivered the keynote to a packed hall and he set the stage for the entire conference. He is a superstar in his own right and the leather jacket that he wore on stage sold out at the Nvidia store within an hour of the keynote ending.
Here is one of Nvidia’s photos that shows the press in front at the tables and the rest of the audience is also paying rapt attention. This editor is in the audience and in the picture.
Jensen began by showing the incredible growth of GPU computing and how it is changing our lives for the better. From humble beginnings, it has grown significantly since the first Nvision08 just four years ago. CUDA is Nvidia’s own propritary CPU language which can be considered similar to x86 for CPU. From 150,000 CUDA downloads and 1 Supercomputer in 2008 to 1,500,000 CUDA downloads and 35 supercomputers today; and from 60 universities and 4,000 academic papers to 560 universities teaching CUA and 22,500 academic papers in just 4 years!
While Nvidia offers support for OpenCL, they say that they are not seeing any shift to OpenCL even though OpenCL gives developers a much more cross-platform approach. No one except AMD appears to be waiting for the OpenCL tools to evolve or even for Intel to get tools out there for its own multi-core MIC processor. Nvidia has created the tools and programmers are excited to use them.
One of the trends noted is that companies no longer supply notebooks or devices for employees any more than than a “company car”. The trend is for employees to Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) to work. Of course, this means that all of the devices that an employee must use have to be configured by the company’s IT department and they must be configured to work together securely.
Nvidia is going to be at the forefront of this with their new initiative with Kepler – the first GPU that can be “virtualized” to drive cloud computing. Cloud computing is simply convenient.
It is a great advantage to be able to use any device seamlessly and the important thing is that excellent graphics can be delivered to any device – now with the same amount of latency that a gaming console has. This has application for business including gaming.
Kepler is Nvidia’s first “Virtualized GPU” which allows end users to use any device from anywhere allowing the same excellent graphics on all devices. This allows data centers to be driven from Kepler GPUs as the applications will reside in the cloud no longer requiring the applications to reside on individual devices.
The PC then becomes an application. This was highlighted by Nvidia’s using Citrix as an example:
A practical way this can be done for business was illustrated when Jensen invited Grady Cofer of Industrial Light & Magic on stage. The problem that Grady explained exists now when he tries to demo movie clips for the director. No matter how many shots he loads up his PC with to demonstrate clips, there is never enough flexibility nor storage on his machine. However, by using Nvidia’s GRID, he is able to instantly access his server and do anything that he could do from his own office – remotely.
He demonstrated how he might do this with the upcoming “Battleship” and also with “The Avengers”:
Of course, gaming can also benefit by having the application reside in the cloud. No longer do gamers have to wait to download anything. They just get connected and start playing – on any device – and with the same excellent graphics. Kepler has taken care of the latency issues.
Of course, we shall cover the details in our GTC Day 1 evaluation. The idea is that movies are convenient. They simply work on any device and games should also. Jensen looked forward to the day when once could have a game subscription to a service like Netflix and perhaps at the same price. It is called the GeForce GRID and it will be implimented by Nvidia’s partners in various forms.
Jensen invited Gaikai’s CEO onstage and they explained that latency should not be an issue considering that it takes light 100ms to circunvent the globe at the equator. Much more was revealed at the question and answer session with the press afterward which we will cover in our upcoming article today. Even Nvidia’s Project Denver was mentioned.
There were many more sessions at the GTC that are quite technical and deal with CUDA programming. One of the easier sessions involved fire rendering and was co-presented by Pixar and Nvidia. A “how to” was described and the evolution of fire rendering in gaming was discussed.
The many uses of the GPU were illustrated at the GTC by the many posters displayed for all to see. There are some impressive uses of the GTC that affect our life.
Almost all of them are quite technical – some of them deal with national security and this one involves using the massively parallel processing of the GPU for lunar research:
Of course there is much more to the GTC and Nvidia’s partners had many exhibits that this editor just got a glimpse of (note the oxygen bar to the left):
Some of them are quite whimsical, like Zoobe
All of them use the GPU to accelerate application like Scalable – across multiple displays seamlessly
Even the upcoming Tesla car is highlighted:
We have barely scratched the surface of GTC 2012. We are heading to Day 2 sessions now. Make sure you check ABT’s forum for the latest upadates from the GTC and we will be back tonight with a wrap of of Day 1 and an introduction to Day 2.
ABT Senior Editor
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