March 19, 2013

Looking Ahead to NVIDIA's GPU Developer's Conference: Excitement Squared


This week is NVIDIA’s big conference and they clearly have some really interesting things to talk about.   NVIDIA has aggressively moved from the PC graphics card business into markets like super computers, smartphones, tablets and automotive displays.   Most interesting was the recent revelation that while asked to bid on the new PlayStation 4, they chose to abandon and instead are developing their own gaming system called “Shield.”   Let’s look ahead to what we are likely to see at GTC.

Cool Cars

NVIDIA has been providing advanced in dash graphics systems for some time now. In fact, one of my own cars, an Audi S5, has their system in it and the dash presentation is one of the things I like best about that car (after the Supercharger). At the show I expect they will be showcasing their more advanced systems in the Audi A7/S7, BMW 7-Series, Lamborghini and Tesla S. Of the four cars the Tesla S’s system is the most stunning with a massive display that puts the iPad to shame which replaces many of the fixed buttons with a touchscreen that can be reconfigured. 

I’ve recently thought that eliminating most of the fixed switches and buttons in a car in favor of a large touchscreen that could do wonders for creating placement and allow a driver to customize their switch layout to either fit their unique needs or to mirror a configuration they already know. And for us crazy people, being able to create a switch/display that was animated and amazing would be a must have feature of a new car and clearly one of the things that attracts me to Tesla’s line. Then again that Audi S7 likely has my name on it. Crap I’m screwed. 

Supercomputers

NVIDIA has been at the forefront of the effort to make supercomputers affordable. You may not know this but up until recently few scientists actually used computers in their research because the technology they needed was so expensive and hard to access instead falling back on manual methods.   NVIDIA’s effort to make this technology vastly more affordable is bringing research from locating earth ending asteroids early to curing cancer into the 21st century and could easily be one of the key reasons why many of you may be around this time next century.  

Expect to get an update on the advancements that have been made in spreading this technology more broadly not only in terms of the areas researched, but in the regions where research is done. 

Gaming

The biggest update, however, may be their Shield project. We are getting far closer to the launch of this system which blends concepts of console and portable gaming into a single connected system running Android which could eclipse its predecessors.   This is a huge gamble for NVIDIA who pretty much had to step away from the flagging existing proprietary gaming market to pull it off. With the falling interest in the Xbox, it was clear someone needed to shake this industry up and NVIDIA clearly is doing that with Shield. 

Expect to see them demonstrate more titles than just Hawken (the Mech title they showcased at CES) in an effort to build a developer/gamer wave that will launch this platform in a few short weeks.  

Tablets and Smartphones

NVIDIA has made some huge advancements into both the tablet and smartphone market.   Their phones tend to have the richest graphics performance and are often tied to the most stunning displays.   They will likely show an advanced reference design because they aren’t allowed to show partner devices prior to their partners launching them.   But I expect Tegra 4 will be a major portion of the show and for them to demonstrate performance on a device in this class that is far more advanced than anything currently shipping.   That kind of goes with the territory.

PC Gaming

They clearly aren’t going to abandon PC gaming and they clearly intend to continue to lead here.   Expect advancements in graphics performance, them to push the new 4K TV performance level, and show enhancements to in game physics.   This is often the most visually stunning portion of their event but I expect this will be overshadowed by their Shield demonstrations. 

Still expect to see some really nicely turned out gaming systems and powerful demonstrations from what once used to be the core of NVIDIA.

Wrapping Up: Changes

Like a lot of things, the tech industry is massively changing and NVIDIA is a showcase of that change.   Stepping well outside of their comfort PC area ,they will be showcasing their moves in cars, consumer electronics, and advanced research at the 2013 GDC.   I’ll be at the show and will report back what I find interesting, I’m only worried that I may be so overwhelmed I’ll go into writer’s vapor lock.   

I’m also a little worried I’ll get so excited about the Tesla S I’ll want one.   Now that would make this a very expensive week.  




Edited by Brooke Neuman



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