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[THW] Nvidia Does Accelerated Programming

post #1 of 13
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Back when we first saw the capabilities of Nvidia’s CUDA technology and Tesla acceleration cards, it was clear to us that the company had all the tools necessary to change the way we use computers today - the enormous computing horsepower of graphics cards open up possibilities we have talked about for some time, but didn’t think were possible in the foreseeable future. The company now challenges developers for the first time to exploit the hidden potential graphics cards in a mainstream application.

Nvidia was first to come up with a development framework that used a relatively easy-to-learn way to accelerate traditional CPU-centric applications through a graphics processor. But while CUDA, which is based on C++ and has some GPGPU extensions, is generally available, Nvidia pitched the technology mainly to universities, scientists and industries that have a need for floating-point-heavy applications - such as financial institutions and the oil and gas sector.

Both Nvidia and ATI have been showing mainstream applications based on GPGPU technologies, but neither one has targeted the mainstream application segment yet. When we asked Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang when Cuda would go into the mainstream market, he told us that such a move would depend on Microsoft and their efforts to provide a Windows interface for GPGPUs.

It appears that Nvidia is shifting its enterprise-only strategy and is turning its focus on a mainstream opportunity as well. In a contest announced today, the company looks for the "most talented CUDA programmers in the world". Nvidia will provide a "partially GPU-optimized version of an MP3 LAME encoder" and asks developers to "optimize [the software] to run as fast as possible on a Cuda-enabled GPU." The encoder has to be created in the CUDA programming environment and must achieve a speed up in run-time.

So, the challenge in this contest is not to port a mainstream application to CUDA, but rather optimize it to squeeze as many gigaflops out of the GPU as possible. That challenge may sound easier than it really is, as we were told before by researchers at University of Illinois’ Beckman Institute and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications that getting an application to run on a GPGPU is the simple task, while accelerating it takes up most of the time - and knowledge.

Those scientific GPGPU applications simulating fluid dynamics or biological processes are impressive to watch, but of course we are interested to see what these processors are capable of in mainstream applications. AMD previously demonstrated its stream processors in an application that rendered a user’s hand, which was captured by a webcam, in near real-time and replaced the mouse as moving around objects on a screen.

Optimizing an MP3 encoder is far from the sophistication of such an application, but it is a first step.

jk
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post #2 of 13
Good to hear, I hope they continue to develop this and get it into mainstream uses quickly. Sounds like the potential possibilities are enormous.
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post #3 of 13
Interesting.... NVIDIA seperately hinted at using the GPU for video encoding in the near future as well. Could optimizing video be the next contest?
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post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post
Interesting.... NVIDIA seperately hinted at using the GPU for video encoding in the near future as well. Could optimizing video be the next contest?
I imagine it will be.

Considering that the primary area quad core CPU's beat dual core CPU's is video encoding, it seems quite multi threaded and thus logical for the GPU to do.
    
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post #5 of 13
Does anybody know if this will benefit folding at all, I guess it will
    
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post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by biatchi View Post
Does anybody know if this will benefit folding at all, I guess it will
Yes, but Standford tends to only develop for ATI. They are kind of funded by ATI not Nvidia.
    
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post #7 of 13
I do accelerated programming all the time when I drink caffeinated beverages. This is nothing special.
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post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stargate125645 View Post
I do accelerated programming all the time when I drink caffeinated beverages. This is nothing special.
    
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post #9 of 13
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Originally Posted by trueg50 View Post
Yes, but Standford tends to only develop for ATI. They are kind of funded by ATI not Nvidia.
AFAIK They are not funded by ATI, when they started to develop GPU folding ATI cards were far faster for this kind of work so they developed a relationship with ATI. Thats all.
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post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urufu_Shinjiro View Post
AFAIK They are not funded by ATI, when they started to develop GPU folding ATI cards were far faster for this kind of work so they developed a relationship with ATI. Thats all.
I don't think they are funded by ATI, however I know the receive quite a lot of help from them. I believe they did receive donations from ATI as well.

It seems they are at a crossroads right now, they said the Directx they have been programming with has hit a dead end. They refuse to write for CUDA, but also for ATI's language due to trying to stay neutral. They now need to choose between CUDA or ATI's language. $20 says that though CUDA seems to be easier, they go with ATI's language.
    
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