Nvidia Launches Kepler GPU For Super-Powered Clouds

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Nvidia plans to accelerate cloud computing with VGX and GeForce GRID platforms

Nvidia has launched two implementations of its Kepler GPU architecture designed specifically for the cloud and IT professionals.

The announcement, made at the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, introduced the Nvidia VGX enterprise platform and GeForce GRID cloud gaming platform.

According to Nvidia, VGX enables IT departments to deliver a virtualised desktop with the graphics and GPU computing performance of a PC or workstation, while GeForce GRID can enable users to play the latest games on any device.

Both are result of five years of research and based on the company’s latest achievement – the Kepler GPU architecture, designed, among other things, for use in large-scale data centres.

Rendering clouds

Nvidia is widely credited with inventing the first GPU, GeForce 256, in 1999. The company used to be famous for its graphics hardware, but has expanded into mobile processors in the last few years with Tegra chips. At the same time, its Tesla GPU, built on the Kepler architecture, is used in supercomputers around the world for research and engineering purposes.

The Kepler GPU architecture, built on a 28-nanometer manufacturing process, was ultimately designed to be used in large-scale data centres. Its virtualisation capabilities allow GPUs to be simultaneously shared by multiple users. The streaming display capability of Kepler eliminates lag, while energy efficiency and processing density lowers data centre costs.

“Kepler cloud GPU technologies shifts cloud computing into a new gear,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia president and chief executive officer. “The GPU has become indispensable. It is central to the experience of gamers. It is vital to digital artists realising their imagination. It is essential for touch devices to deliver silky smooth and beautiful graphics. And now, the cloud GPU will deliver amazing experiences to those who work remotely and gamers looking to play untethered from a PC or console.”

Nvidia has decided to launch two specialised platforms, one for business and one for pleasure. The enterprise implementation of Kepler, the Nvidia VGX platform, accelerates virtualised desktops. Enterprises can use it to provide seamless remote computing that allows even the most demanding applications to be streamed to a notebook or mobile device, Nvidia said.

Integrating the VGX platform into the corporate network could also enable IT departments to address the complex challenges of BYOD, providing users of portable devices with the same capabilities they have on their desktop terminal, according to the vendor. Nvidia claims VGX would help reduce overall IT spend, improve data security and minimise data centre complexity.

“The virtualisation of the GPU will have a profound effect on the VDI market. It will increase the user experience for these remote desktops closer to par with traditional PCs than without a GPU in the server. It could also lead to expanding potential use cases for virtualisation to design, healthcare and engineering tasks that were very challenging in the past,” commented Brett Waldman, senior research analyst for client virtualisation at IDC.

The gaming implementation of Kepler, GeForce GRID, is designed to power the emerging market of cloud gaming services. Gaming-as-a-service providers (such as OnLive or Gaikai) will use it to remotely deliver gaming experiences on any device, with quality of visual content able to surpass that on a console.

Key partners that have backed Nvidia’s cloud technologies include Cisco, Citrix, Gaikai and George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic (which created special effects for all the Star Wars films).

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