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 09 November 2006
 Technology Report
 Dr. Adrian Wong
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NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX/GTS Tech Report
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The GeForce 8800 GPUs also comes with the new NVIDIA CUDA technology. CUDA is actually an acronym for Compute Unified Device Architecture.

That's a really odd name for what is known as General-Purpose Computing on Graphics Processing Units (GPGPU). Basically, what this means is that you can make use of the GPU to perform non-graphics operations.

Here are the key highlights of NVIDIA's CUDA technology

  • New “Thread Computing” processing model that takes advantage of massively-threaded GeForce 8800 GPU architecture.
  • Computing threads that can communicate and cooperate on the GPU
  • Standard C language interface for a simplified platform for complex computational problems
  • Architecture that complements traditional CPUs by providing additional processing capability for inherently parallel applications
  • CUDA technology utilizes GPU resources in a different manner than graphics processing, as seen in the diagram below. But both CUDA threads and graphics threads can run on the GPU concurrently if desired

NVIDIA claims that their CUDA technology will allow programmers to solve complex parallel problems 100x faster than traditional CPU-based computing. Their reasons?

  • Up to 128 parallel 1.35GHz compute cores in the GeForce 8800 GTX GPUs provides massive floating-point processing power
  • Thread-computing scales across NVIDIA’s complete line of next generation GPUs - from embedded GPUs to high performance GPUs that support hundreds of stream processors
  • NVIDIA SLI ™ technology allows multiple GPUs to distribute computing toprovide unparalleled compute density.
  • Enables thread computing to be deployed in any industry-standard environment.
  • Parallel Data Cache stores information on the GPU so threads can share data entirely within GPU for dramatically increased performance and flexibility

  • Thread Execution Manager efficiently schedules and coordinates the execution of thousands of computing threads for precise computational execution.


Quantum Effects

Remember when we talked about NVIDIA's physics processing effects back in March? Well, NVIDIA has solidified those claims with their Quantum Effects technology.

What it basically does is make use of the GeForce 8800's stream processors to perform calculations for physics effects. Games that support it will be able to implement more realistic smoke, fire and explosion effects.

We were given a demo of a smoke box where smoke was constantly being generated by a movable object. By moving the object, we can see how the smoke swirls around within the box. It certainly looked very realistic, although we must remember that it was only a simple technology demo.

Real game physics effects will be different and far more complex than that. We certainly hope to see games taking advantage of Quantum Effects to deliver more realistic effects.


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