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Nvidia expands into chips

Nvidia expands into chips

Nvidia, known for graphics processors designed for video gaming, is expanding into the market for high-performance computing processors.

Nvidia on Wednesday introduced the Tesla line of processors, which it bills as making high-density parallel processing capabilities available in workstation computers.

The Tesla graphics processing unit (GPU) features 128 parallel processors and delivers up to 518 gigaflops of parallel computation. A gigaflop refers to the processing of a billion floating point operations per second. Nvidia envisions the Tesla being used in high-performance computing environments such as geosciences, molecular biology or medical diagnostics.

Nvidia also will offer Tesla in a workstation, which it calls a "Deskside Supercomputer," that includes two Tesla GPUs, attaches to a PC or workstation via a PCI-Express connection, and delivers up to eight teraflops of processing power. A teraflop is the processing of a trillion floating point operations per second.

A Tesla Computing Server puts eight Tesla GPUs with 1000 parallel processors into a 1U server rack.

The list price for the Tesla GPU would start at US$1499 and the deskside computer at $7500. Both will be available beginning in August. Qualification samples of the Computing Server, with a list price of $12,000, will be available in September. The product will be fully available in the November-December time frame, Nvidia said.

The Tesla is the third major product line from Nvidia, whose Geforce GPUs deliver high-end graphics to entertainment products such as video game players. Its Quadro processor line enables computer-aided design in the creation of digital content, including 3-D graphics. It also released in February a beta version of software it calls CUDA, for compute unified device architecture, which enables software code to be written to use a computer's GPU as well as the CPU for added processing power. A general availability of CUDA is expected in the second half of this year.


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