Nvidia showed off new Ion netbook and nettop designs this year, plus an entirely new GeForce architecture—Fermi— designed for triple headed machines and 3D displays. Nvidia’s Tegra line of embedded chipsets is also growing rapidly through OEM adoption, most notably in the Boxee Box by D-Link.
Last year, Nvidia unveiled Ion, a chipset for netbooks and nettops. There are now more than a dozen designs using the system. 16 CUDA cores power it, enabling users to do intensive tasks such as upscaling DVD quality video to HD.
Nvidia continues its GeForce line of desktop and laptop video cards, introducing a new architecture called Fermi. Fermi doubles the number of cores, permits triple monitor setups, and increases power available for physics simulation through PhysX.
The number of programs able to take advantage of CUDA processing is growing. A program called Motion DSP, originally used by the CIA for enhancing photographs and video, is available now for consumers who wish to do the same. Fermi is also powerful enough to handle 3D Blu-ray and 3D gaming without a special monitor. In short, Fermi powers the fastest single graphics card ever.
Nvidia had an excellent 3D project system set up at its booth. I believe the game was a racing game, and it showed how Fermi can do 3D graphics at high resolution with a 3D effect display.
Tegra made its first showing in the Zune HD last year. It’s essentially a high powered GPU in a mobile form factor, enabling 3D graphics and HD video in the palm of the hand. Many new tablet PCs and small form factor e-readers will use Tegra this year. One of the greatest new devices using Tegra is the Boxee Box by D-Link.
Tegra was also used in a project in collaboration with Audi to create an in-car navigation system/computer capable of HD video for passengers and navigation for the driver.
I also took a short video giving your a run down of pretty much everything that was on display at the NVIDIA Booth.
Nvidia’s booth was incredibly busy this year. I managed to track down a product manager–who asked not to be named–and ask a few questions about the “latest and greatest” 3D initiative which Nvidia has been pushing.
I asked him if the 3D gaming initiative is more consumer-driven or more industry-driven. His answer was that there is consumer demand for it, but very few games use it right now and very few games will be released in the near future which support it. At this time, the industry is pushing it with an intention to show the capability of its devices, and with the hope that developers will buy into it. It relies on having higher-end monitors at added cost and there is of course those pesky 3D glasses.
Then I addressed that issue, asking if Nvidia is pushing display makers to improve the quality and decrease the cost of monitors capable of doing 3D without the need for 3D glasses. He replied that Nvidia is, and is pushing hard, but it will be potentionally a few years before this technology makes it to market, and more years before it’s affordable to the average consumer.
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.
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