Graphics leader NVIDIA
is harnessing the horsepower of Intel's
Nehalem chip microarchitecture as a platform to launch the 10th
generation of its Quadro FX professional graphics board series.
Nehalem, which leverages Intel's QuickPath
EP interconnect technology to provide closer connections between memory and
processors, is designed to deliver unprecedented parallel processing
performance for servers, workstations and notebooks via its support for up to
two-to-eight-plus cores and up to 16+ threads.
The new wave of Nehalem-based systems will offer a variety
of other capabilities that play to the Quadro graphics board's strengths,
according to Scott Fitzpatrick, product line manager for NVIDIA's professional
services group. For example, larger main system memory offered by the new
Nehalem-based workstations is critical for the massive data sets that accompany
ultra high-end graphics applications like those for product styling or medical
imaging. The so-called "wider pipes" between the host and graphics systems,
courtesy of the Nehalem QuickPath EP architecture, will ensure the GPU isn't
starved for data while awaiting processing. Last, but not least, the dual PCI
express slots on the new platforms will allow for multiple GPUs to be
configured in a single system for the first time, Fitzpatrick says.
To optimize the use of multiple GPUs in a single Nehalem-based
system, NVIDIA is releasing its new NVIDIA SLI Multi-OS, software that lets a
single workstation host multiple operating systems running their own
applications, each of which can be assigned a GPU to get full acceleration.
Previously, engineers would have to set up two machines to get GPU acceleration
on two different operating systems because a GPU could only work with the host
OS even if two GPUs were present.
"With virtualization up to this point, you've been able to
run multiple operating systems within the same system, but you haven't been
able to virtualize a GPU," Fitzpatrick says. "Starting with this
(configuration), you can do that."
The ability to virtualize a GPU
will help users do more simultaneously and make the ROI of buying a Nehalem-based
workstation more appealing, according to Alex Herrera, an analyst for Jon Peddie Research. CAD and CAE overlap would be a perfect application for
NVIDIA's SLI Multi-OS, he says, with a CAD program being able to run in a
Windows environment while the CAE application runs with Linux. "Now you could
run Linux CAE and Windows CAD concurrently, each keeping, for example, one x86
processor busy and one NVIDIA Quadro card busy," he says.
The new Quadro FX line, comprised
of the FX 380, FX 580, FX 1800, FX 3800, FX 4800 and FX 5800 range in price
from $99 to $3,299. NVIDIA is positioning the FX 1800, priced at $599, as the
optimal system for mid-range CAD users.