NVIDIA Taps Nehalem to Boost Quadro GPU Performance

DN Staff

March 27, 2009

2 Min Read
NVIDIA Taps Nehalem to Boost Quadro GPU Performance

Graphics leader NVIDIAis harnessing the horsepower of Intel'sNehalem chip microarchitecture as a platform to launch the 10thgeneration of its Quadro FX professional graphics board series.

Nehalem, which leverages Intel's QuickPathEP interconnect technology to provide closer connections between memory andprocessors, is designed to deliver unprecedented parallel processingperformance for servers, workstations and notebooks via its support for up totwo-to-eight-plus cores and up to 16+ threads.

The new wave of Nehalem-based systems will offer a varietyof other capabilities that play to the Quadro graphics board's strengths,according to Scott Fitzpatrick, product line manager for NVIDIA's professionalservices group. For example, larger main system memory offered by the newNehalem-based workstations is critical for the massive data sets that accompanyultra high-end graphics applications like those for product styling or medicalimaging. The so-called "wider pipes" between the host and graphics systems,courtesy of the Nehalem QuickPath EP architecture, will ensure the GPU isn'tstarved for data while awaiting processing. Last, but not least, the dual PCIexpress slots on the new platforms will allow for multiple GPUs to beconfigured in a single system for the first time, Fitzpatrick says.

To optimize the use of multiple GPUs in a single Nehalem-basedsystem, NVIDIA is releasing its new NVIDIA SLI Multi-OS, software that lets asingle workstation host multiple operating systems running their ownapplications, each of which can be assigned a GPU to get full acceleration.Previously, engineers would have to set up two machines to get GPU accelerationon two different operating systems because a GPU could only work with the hostOS even if two GPUs were present.

"With virtualization up to this point, you've been able torun multiple operating systems within the same system, but you haven't beenable to virtualize a GPU," Fitzpatrick says. "Starting with this(configuration), you can do that."

The ability to virtualize a GPUwill help users do more simultaneously and make the ROI of buying a Nehalem-basedworkstation more appealing, according to Alex Herrera, an analyst for Jon Peddie Research. CAD and CAE overlap would be a perfect application forNVIDIA's SLI Multi-OS, he says, with a CAD program being able to run in aWindows environment while the CAE application runs with Linux. "Now you couldrun Linux CAE and Windows CAD concurrently, each keeping, for example, one x86processor busy and one NVIDIA Quadro card busy," he says.

The new Quadro FX line, comprisedof the FX 380, FX 580, FX 1800, FX 3800, FX 4800 and FX 5800 range in pricefrom $99 to $3,299. NVIDIA is positioning the FX 1800, priced at $599, as theoptimal system for mid-range CAD users.

The new Quadro FX 1800 is tuned for mid-range CAD applications.

NVIDIA Taps Nehalem to Boost Quadro GPU Performance A

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