Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meet Nvidia's CUDA

In choosing a laptop, there are two choices.  I'm not talking about AMD or Intel.  Nor am I talking about Vista or OS X.  I'm talking about a laptop with a dedicated GPU or an integrated graphic processor, IGP.  That choice became more complicated with Nvidia release Cuda based graphic processors for laptops.

Nvidia's Cuda graphic cards allow parallel processing, giving laptops added processing power normally reserved for the central processing unit, CPU.  Today Nvidia release new chips with specific Cuda cores but they also have a webpage in which current processors are cable of parallel processing as well.

So, as a mobile warrior, how does this impact you?  A lot.  We'll narrow it down a bit.  If your work involve the following tasks, Cuda maybe for you:

  • Modeling and simulation
  • Video and audio work
  • Programming
  • Mathematics - science, finance
  • 3D
  • Digital content creation
  • Game development or gaming

This is just from Nvidia.  We'll explore what others like AMD and Microsoft will be offer.  Apple has already made clear their next OS X revision, Snow Leopard, will utilize the GPU in their own parallel processing implementation.  

What if you don't do any of above mentioned tasks?  Then an IGP equipped laptop will be just what you're looking for.  From time to time, I do video work with Final Cut Express for HD family videos I take.  I've got a Mac mini I use for that.  Boy, wouldn't I love to have a quad-core CPU to help with the processing with a multi-core GPU, eh?  

Also, I've started to do a little 3D graphics as well with Blender.  I can say getting a new laptop with a GPU capable of "helping out" when needed is very tempting.  

Note:  As Intel and AMD continue to shrink processors and cramp as much transistors as physically allowable until one day it comes impossible, use of GPU coprocessors or multi-core CPUs likes the ones we have today or Larabee in 2010 could be just the answer to Moore's law.  Quantum computing is far from being practical so we won't go into that.  In the coming months, competition will heat up as system builders, software providers, and graphic card companies begin to show practical uses for consumers, investing in a laptop with a dedicated GPU may be a smart play now.  

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