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512-core graphics chip supports real-time ray tracing

Posted: 06 Oct 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:graphics processor? multicore? microprocessor? x86?

Dawn of new GPU industry
"Assuming Nvidia delivers on the 5x performance gain they were discussing at the keynote, this puts the performance development well ahead of the usual Moore's law improvements," said Dean McCarron, principal or Mercury Research. "We're still early in the GPU-as-processor model, so we may be seeing the early gains we've seen in other markets when they are new," he said.

"It seems reasonable to speculate that Fermi will be proportionally stronger on the graphics side, which should make the full three-billion transistor graphics chip quite competitive," McCarron added. "However that would clearly be the highest-end GPU, and presumably the midrange products will be smaller," he said.

"Nvidia and the Fermi team have taken a giant step towards making GPUs attractive for a broader class of programs," said Dave Patterson, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley and heads the Parallel Computing Research Laboratory there. "I believe history will record Fermi as a significant milestone," Patterson said in a prepared statement from Nvidia.

"We will look back in the coming years and see that Fermi started the new GPU industry," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of Nvidia, speaking at the company's first GPU Technology Conference.

Huang said the company has working versions of Fermi. But he declined to say when it will ship products.

Nvidia claims Fermi will offer an "eight-fold improvement in peak double precision arithmetic performance" over the company's existing products. The chip will support the IEEE 754-2008 floating-point standard.

Fermi also sports a cache hierarchy new to graphics chips and offers ECC protection needed for use in data centers. It also supports C++ programming.

Separately, Nvidia announced a development environment called Nexus that supports both CPU and graphics cores. It will be integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times


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