GeForce GTX 280 review -
6 - Compute Unified Device Architecture
Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA)
Using the GPU on the graphics card for something else than gaming.
Something NVIDIA is getting pretty keen on is utilizing the GPU for functions other than rendering your games. Face it, the floating point parallel processing power of GPUs as shown today are humongous. There's a lot of potential doing other things rather than just gaming with your graphics cards.
So there's more to the GeForce GTX 200 series than playing games. More and more non-gaming related features are and can be offloaded towards the GPU. Roughly a year or two ago NVIDIA introduced CUDA. CUDA is a software layer that allows software developers to to 'speak' with the GPU and have it process data using your graphics card. This really is the most simple & basic description I can give it.
Taking it up a notch; still a very simplified explanation: if you can program in C++, chances are pretty good you'll be able to 'speak' to that GPU and get it to return data to you. Here's where we dive into what NVIDIA refers to as 'GPU Beyond' - The GPU evolving beyond graphics applications, beyond gaming. Some dry examples of what you can use the GPU for.
- Physics simulation
- Signal processing
- Computational geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, finance.
- Data management
Now I know this all is very abstract, especially to explain. But for the years to come we'll start to see some pretty interesting applications that run over or get assisted by your GeForce GPU. The biggest problem with CUDA is that 99% of the CUDA application are specific to a company or internal projects, therefore that 99% of the software we never get to see. So it's very hard to understand for the end user, specifically the consumer, what CUDA can achieve with your graphics card. To keep it understandable I need to keep it real simple. And I will do so with explaining some examples of where CUDA can help.
Example 1: Accelerating Adobe photoshop
On a recent NVIDIA briefing we saw some pretty exciting stuff from Adobe. Adobe was showing off a technology demo of among others, PhotoShop. A development version of Photoshop used the GPU to process images. Again hard to describe, but let's say you want a panoramic view of some photo's, and rotate that on the fly. In the example shown a guy took the three photo's, merged them and then in real-time you can go though that panoramic view, real time as assisted by the GPU as the usual processor would have a very hard time keeping up with that.
Also, a nice example. Adobe took a 442+ Mpixel photo (which alone is 2 GB in file-size). Now they started zooming in and out real-time ... with no effort at all. As if this was an easy task to do for the PC. Again assisted and empowered by the GPU. A regular CPU would drown here -- literally your PC would die a horrible death. Pretty much panning, zooming, and rotating via GPU hardware acceleration worked on the fly. Now let me just state that this was an example shown, there's nothing definitive of an implementation like that in the next version of Adobe's software. Pure and merely an example. Though I for sure am keeping my fingers crossed. That's really exciting stuff to see, guys.
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