NVIDIA’s GTC 2014 – final report
This is the fourth time that ABT has been privileged to attend Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC). GTC 2014 was held March 24-27, in San Jose, California.
The very first article that this editor wrote for AlienBabelTech covered Nvision 08 – a combination of LAN party and the first GPU computing technology conference. The second time was the following year, at GTC 2009, when it was held at the Fairmont Hotel, across the street from the San Jose Convention Center, and it introduced Fermi architecture. The third GTC 2012 that ABT attended was held two years ago, and it introduced Kepler architecture.
We have had more than two weeks to think about the GTC and this is our summary of it. And bearing in mind past GTCs, we cannot help but compare them to each other.
The GTC 2014 highlights for this editor included attempting to learn more about Nvidia’s future roadmap as well as noting Nvidia’s progress in GPU computing over the past 6 years. Each attendee at the GTC will have their own unique account of their time spent at the GTC. The GTC is a combination trade show/networking/educational event attended by close to three thousand people, each of whom may have their own unique schedule and personal reasons for attending. All of them have in common their passion for GPU computing. This editor’s primary reason for attending this year was for the minority report – the interest in GeForce (and now Tegra) GPU technology primarily for PC (and now Android) gaming.
Nvidia used the GTC to debut a great array of new technology even though everything currently is built on mostly 28nm architecture, the Kepler generation of GPU processing power. We have only had a taste of Nvidia’s next generation Maxwell architecture, and it is much more powerful as well as significantly more energy-efficient than Kepler, and Nvidia intends to use it to continue to revolutionize GPU and cloud computing, including for gaming.
Everything has certainly grown since the first GTC in 2009. Nvidia is again using the remodeled San Jose Convention Center for their show just as they will do for 2015 – returning to their original venue for Nvision08. Each time the GTC schedule becomes far more packed than the year previously, and this editor was forced to make some hard choices, to attend a few of the sessions and to skip many others.
The GTC at a Glance
There has been some real progress with signage at the upgraded San Jose Convention Center. No longer does Nvidia have to make do with an entire wall covered with posters, but now the electronic signs are updated daily and there is far less clutter making it much easier for the attendees.
We will take a look at each day that we spent at the GTC and briefly focus on the sessions that we attended.
We arrived Monday afternoon, flying in from Palm Springs to San Francisco airport in just over an hour. The temperature in Palm Springs was 85F and San Francisco was 65F. San Jose, about an hour’s drive away in traffic and 35 miles inland, is more moderate with Monday’s daytime highs in the 70sF. On Tuesday, a cold front dropped the temperatures into the 60s, and brought much-needed rain to Northern California.
After picking up our press pass, we were surprised to see that the formerly 180 page printed GTC Program Guide and many pages of press-related material, were no longer available. Instead, printing stations were set up so that each attendee could customize and print their own schedule. There was one kiosk available with pre-printed daily schedules, but you had to ask for them. Everything else was online for convenience and conservation, and the Convention Center’s Wi-Fi was better than tolerable. The wired connection in the Marriott was excellent, however, and 6 or 7MB/s peak downloads were not unusual, and it would rarely drop below 1MB/s, even when everyone was online at once.
Nvidia treats their attendees and press well, and there was a nice backpack included with the $900 all-event pass to the GTC. The press gets in free. A very nice commemorative GPU Technology T-shirt is also included, and this year, each attendee got a SHIELD. I am still looking forward to unboxing mine, my first gaming console since Sega’s Genesis.
Monday was set aside for the hardcore programmers and the developer-focused sessions were mostly advanced. There was a poster reception between 4-6PM and anyone could talk to or interview the exhibitors who were mostly researchers from leading universities and organizations who were focusing on GPU-enabled research. The press had an early 6-9 PM evening reception at the St. Claire Hotel across the street from the convention center and this editor got to see very few of his friends from past events. Smaller hardware review sites like ABT do not usually attend the GTC. The GTC is also all about networking. There are those looking for capital for starting or building businesses, and those with venture capital to lend, and of course, advertising. Most of all, it was for sharing information to advance GPU programming.
There were dinners scheduled and tables reserved at some of San Jose’s finest restaurants for the purpose of getting like-minded individuals together. And discussions were scheduled at some of the dinners while some of them were devoted to discussing programming, while still others talked business, or just enjoyed the food.
ABT forum members and readers are particularly interested in the Maxwell architecture as it relates to gaming and we knew going in that very little would be said about anything other than about the GTX 750/Ti. However, we were not disappointed as Nvidia is definitely oriented toward gaming, graphics and computing and we eagerly heard about GeForce and the announcement of Nvidia’s $3000 dual-GPU TITAN Z. And Jensen’s Keynote on Tuesday reinforced Nvidia’s commitment to gaming.