Wednesday, 28 March 2018 08:30

Nvidia brings real-time ray tracing to desktops Featured


The Nvidia Quadro GV100 is capable of real-time ray tracing on workstation-class hardware.

Thanks to Nvidia's RTX technology, the Quadro GV100 GPU supports computationally intensive real-time ray tracing for commercial design and content creation applications.

This means designers can interact directly with their creations, seeing the correct light and shadows. Complex renders can be performed ten times faster than with a CPU alone.

The company likens the GV100's significance to the introduction of programmable shaders in the 1990s.

"Nvidia has reinvented the workstation by taking ray-tracing technology optimised for our Volta technology, and marrying it with the highest-performance hardware ever put into a workstation," said vice-president of professional visualisation Bob Pette.

"Artists and designers can simulate and interact with their creations in ways never before possible, which will fundamentally change workflows across many industries."

Live raytrace GV100

The role of rendered images is "becoming more about selling" than design, he said, for example to show a potential customer exactly what a car looks like in a particular colour and with specific options. This approach is already in use at some Audi showrooms, he noted.

The GV100 features 32GB of memory, and delivers 7.4 teraflops of double-precision performance. Its Nvidia's OptiX AI denoiser generates noise-free renders in real-time, almost 100 times as fast as a CPU alone.

Two Quadro GV100cards can be connected via NVLink 2, giving it the "largest frame buffer in the world" (64GB) according to Nvdia founder and CEO Jensen Huang.

Around one billion frames are rendered each year, he said, and the adoption of RTX technology could increase this by a factor of ten.

"The more GPUs you buy, the more you save," he said. A GV100 based system is one-fifth the cost of a CPU-based cluster of similar performance, and it occupies one seventh of the space and consumes one seventh of the power.

RTX — introduced two weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference — is already supported by at least 25 leading professional design and creative applications. Supporting vendors include Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes (SolidWorks).

RTX is accessible via Nvidia's Optix API and the DirectX Raytracing API. It will also be supported by the open-source, cross-platform Vulkan standard.

The GV100 is available immediately from Nvidia for US9000, and will ship in workstations from Dell EMC, HP, Lenovo, Fujitsu and others starting in April.

Disclosure: The writer attended Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference as a guest of the company.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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