Wednesday, 1 December 2010



We’re at AU 2010 Showcasing Breakthrough Solutions For Autodesk Users

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 10:00 AM PST

It's the first full day here at Autodesk University, an event that brings together Autodesk users, developers, executives and solution providers, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. If you're at the show and interested in seeing how new NVIDIA Quadro pro graphics are driving Autodesk applications like 3ds Max, AutoCAD 2011, Maya, and Showcase, then swing by our  booth, #401.

Autodesk recently announced 3ds Max with iray by mental images for its software subscribers, which provides creative visualization artists with a more intuitive means for creating images that rival photographs, in a fraction of the time needed with traditional workflows. NVIDIA and Autodesk worked to revolutionize photorealistic rendering and physics simulation with the integration of the new GPU-accelerated iray renderer from mental images and a new rigid body physics workflow powered by NVIDIA PhysX into the software.  3ds Max users will enjoy up to 6X faster results over dual quad-core CPUs when using a GPU such as the new NVIDIA Quadro 5000 or Tesla C2050.*

Also in our booth, we have Autodesk Maya and Showcase demos running in 3D utilizing our new NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro technology, and our new Quadro 2000 and Quadro 600 graphics accelerating AutoCAD.

For mobile workstation users, we're showing the HP 8740w EliteBook mobile workstation powered by the NVIDIA Quadro 5000M.  We'll also have the first public demonstration of our recently announced Quadro 4000 for Mac accelerating AutoCAD 2011 for Mac.

And, back by popular demand, the NVIDIA "wheel of fortune" will be in the booth – give it a spin for a chance to win some great prizes, including a new Quadro 5000 pro graphics card.

After you've checked out our booth, take a look at what NVIDIA's key partners, including HP, Dell, and Lenovo, are showing, featuring Quadro solutions running Autodesk applications.

If you're not attending the show, you can learn more about the new NVIDIA Quadro pro graphics lineup, and how it powers Autodesk software, by visiting us on the web:

*Using Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 64-bit with mental images iray on Win 7 64-bit with 8GB of system memory using an NVIDIA Quadro 5000 or Tesla C2050 GPU with dual Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q9300.

A New Look for a New Year

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 09:01 AM PST

Welcome to the freshly redesigned NVDIA Blog. We've been working hard to create a new blog design not just to look good but also to help improve the user experience for you.

Here are a few of the new features you'll find:

  • Tabs: We've organized content into categories by solution, and sorted them into tabs (above).  When you land on this homepage, you can read a stream of all the NVIDIA blog posts.  Or, if you're only interested in, say, mobile news, you can just click that tab to see the latest.
  • Author profiles: So you're a big fan of Drew Henry? Me too. Now we've made it easier for you to find and follow your favorite NVIDIA bloggers. You can read their bios, see their latest posts or subscribe to their RSS feeds.
  • Related posts: We've included a tool that surfaces posts related to the one you're reading, so you can continue exploring topics that matter to you.
  • NVIDIA in a Minute: We've been producing this video series for some time. It features some of the hottest NVIDIA news, and now you can watch it within the sidebar of the blog, anytime.
  • Author comment call-outs: We're always reading your comments and try to respond as much as possible.  To differentiate the responses you get from an official NVIDIA voice, we've integrated a green-line system which highlights their replies.
  • Most Discussed: Want to see posts that are generating the most comments? Check out the 'Most Discussed' widget on the sidebar.
  • Flickr: We're constantly taking pictures at events, of new products and around the office. Now you can see the latest photos from the NVDIA Flickr stream right on the blog.

There are many more cool updates, so please take a look around the new digs and give us feedback in the comments below.

Also, please note the RSS feed for the blog will be changing in the next week to: please update your readers to ensure you stay up-to-date.

Caution: Blog Construction Under Way

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 01:30 PM PST

Hey readers, the NVIDIA blog will be undergoing some maintenance over the next two days.  While we don't expect any issues, we just wanted to give a heads up in case you spot something out of the ordinary.

Be sure to visit us Wednesday morning as we unveil a brand new look for the NVIDIA blog.

NVIDIA Newsroom Gets Social

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 02:32 AM PST

We're launching today a new look for the NVIDIA Newsroom, providing users with a fuller view of what's happening across our company. At just one glance, you can keep up with the latest NVIDIA news in all formats.


This new page consolidates live feeds from our Blog, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube corporate accounts, in addition to old-fashioned press releases. We'll soon be adding our Twitter feed as well.

There's also a new feature section at the top of the page, which highlights recent key announcements.  We'll keep this updated so you can quickly see what's most important.

Take a look at the page and let us know what you think.  To see a directory of all of NVIDIA's social media profiles, check out the "Find Us Online" page.

Testing NVIDIA vs. AMD Image Quality

Posted: 19 Nov 2010 04:00 AM PST

PC gaming enthusiasts understand image quality (IQ) is a critical part of the PC gaming experience. They frequently upgrade their GPUs to play the latest games at high frame rates, while also dialing up the display resolution and graphical IQ effects to make their games both look and play great. Image quality is important, and if it were not important, we'd all be playing at 10×7 with no AA!

Important Benchmarking Issues and Questionable Optimizations
We are writing this blog post to bring broader attention to some very important image quality findings uncovered recently by top technology Web sites including ComputerBase, PC Games Hardware, Tweak PC, and They all found that changes introduced in AMD's Catalyst 10.10 default driver settings caused an increase in performance and a decrease in image quality. These changes in AMD's default settings do not permit a fair apples-to-apples comparison to NVIDIA default driver settings. NVIDIA GPUs provide higher image quality at default driver settings, which means comparative AMD vs. NVIDIA testing methods need to be adjusted to compensate for the image quality differences.

What Editors Discovered
Getting directly to the point, major German Tech Websites ComputerBase and PC Games Hardware (PCGH) both report that they must use the "High" Catalyst AI texture filtering setting for AMD 6000 series GPUs instead of the default "Quality" setting in order to provide image quality that comes close to NVIDIA's default texture filtering setting. has a similar story, as does TweakPC. The behavior was verified in many game scenarios. AMD obtains up to a 10% performance advantage by lowering their default texture filtering quality according to ComputerBase.

AMD's optimizations weren't limited to the Radeon 6800 series. According to the review sites, AMD also lowered the default AF quality of the HD 5800 series when using the Catalyst 10.10 drivers, such that users must disable Catalyst AI altogether to get default image quality closer to NVIDIA's "default" driver settings.

Going forward, ComputerBase and PCGH both said they would test AMD 6800 series boards with Cat AI set to "High", not the default "Quality" mode, and they would disable Cat AI entirely for 5800 series boards (based on their findings, other 5000 series boards do not appear to be affected by the driver change).

Filter Tester Observations
Readers can observe AMD GPU texture shimmering very visibly in videos posted at TweakPC. The popular Filter Tester application from was used with its "ground2" texture (located in the Program Files/3DCenter Filter Tester/Textures directory), and texture movement parameters were set to -0.7 in both X and Y directions with 16xAF enabled. Each video shows the split-screen rendering mode of the Filter Tester application, where the GPU under test is on the left side, and the "perfect" software-based ALU rendering is on the right side. (Playing the videos with Firefox or Google Chrome is recommended). NVIDIA GPU anisotropic quality was also tested and more closely resembles the perfect ALU software-based filtering. Problems with AMD AF filtering are best seen when the textures are in motion, not in static AF tests, thus the "texture movement" settings need to be turned on in the Filter Tester. In our own testing with Filter Tester using similar parameters, we have seen that the newly released Catalyst 10.11 driver also has the same texture shimmering problems on the HD 5870. Cat 10.11 does not work with HD 6000 series boards as of this writing.

AF Tester Observations
ComputerBase also says that AMD drivers appear to treat games differently than the popular "AF Tester" (anisotropic filtering) benchmark tool from They indicate that lower quality anisotropic filtering is used in actual games, but higher quality anisotropic filtering is displayed when the AF Tester tool is detected and run. Essentially, the anisotropic filtering quality highlighted by the AF Tester tool on AMD GPUs is not indicative of the lower quality of anisotropic filtering seen in real games on AMD GPUs.

NVIDIA's own driver team has verified specific behaviors in AMD's drivers that tend to affect certain anisotropic testing tools. Specifically, AMD drivers appear to disable texture filtering optimizations when smaller window sizes are detected, like the AF Tester tool uses, and they enable their optimizations for larger window sizes. The definition of "larger" and "smaller" varies depending on the API and hardware used. For example with DX10 and 68xx boards, it seems they disable optimizations with window sizes smaller than 500 pixels on a side. For DX9 apps like the AF Tester, the limit is higher, on the order of 1000 pixels per side. Our driver team also noticed that the optimizations are more aggressive on RV840/940 than RV870, with optimizations performed across a larger range of LODs for the RV840/940.

FP16 Render Observations
In addition to the above recent findings, for months AMD had been performing a background optimization for certain DX9 applications where FP16 render targets are demoted to R11G11B10 render targets, which are half the size and less accurate. When recently exposed publically, AMD finally provided a user visible control panel setting to enable/disable, but the demotion is enabled by default.  Reviewers and users testing DX9 applications such as Need for Speed Shift or Dawn of War 2, should uncheck the "Enable Surface Format Optimization" checkbox in the Catalyst AI settings area of the AMD control panel to turn off FP16 demotion when conducting comparative performance testing.

A Long and Winding Road
For those with long memories, NVIDIA learned some hard lessons with some GeForce FX and 3DMark03 optimization gone bad, and vowed to never again perform any optimizations that could compromise image quality.  During that time, the industry agreed that any optimization that improved performance, but did not alter IQ, was in fact a valid "optimization", and any optimization that improved performance but lowered IQ, without letting the user know, was a "cheat".  Special-casing of testing tools should also be considered a "cheat".

Both NVIDIA and AMD provide various control panel knobs to tune and tweak image quality parameters, but there are some important differences — NVIDIA strives to deliver excellent IQ at default control panel settings, while also ensuring the user experiences the image quality intended by the game developer. NVIDIA will not hide optimizations that trade off image quality to obtain faster frame rates. Similarly, with each new driver release, NVIDIA will not reduce the quality of default IQ settings, unlike what appears to be happening with our competitor, per the stories recently published.

We are glad that multiple top tech sites have published their comparative IQ findings. If NVIDIA published such information on our own, without third-party validation, much of the review and technical community might just ignore it. A key goal in this blog is not to point out cheats or "false optimizations" in our competitor's drivers. Rather it is to get everyone to take a closer look at AMD's image quality in games, and fairly test our products versus AMD products. We also want people to beware of using certain anisotropic testing tools with AMD boards, as you will not get image quality results that correspond with game behavior.

AMD promotes "no compromise" enthusiast graphics, but it seems multiple reviewers beg to differ.

We have had internal discussions as to whether we should forego our position to not reduce image quality behind your back as AMD is doing.  We believe our customers would rather we focus our resources to maximize performance and provide an awesome, immersive gaming experience without compromising image quality, than engage in a race to the IQ gutter with AMD.

We're interested to know what you think here in the comments or on the NVIDIA forums.

GPUs on the Path to 1000x More Science

Posted: 18 Nov 2010 07:59 AM PST

At the SC10 Show in New Orleans on Wednesday morning I found myself as one of many conference attendees hustling down the uneven sidewalks on a surprisingly windy and cool day.  Coffees in hand, we all managed to navigate the seemingly endless expanse of the convention center before the 8:30am start of the keynote session, featuring NVIDIA Chief Scientist Bill Dally's insights on GPUs and the path to exascale.

SC10 032
Exascale supercomputers (those with roughly 1000x more computing capability than today's fastest) will be critical to the advancement of science and industrial innovation this decade.   But unless supercomputing architectures are designed more intelligently, these systems will require their own dedicated nuclear power plant to run them.   Enter the GPU.

SC10 036
In order to reach exascale with a reasonable power budget a system must reach 50GFlops/Watt.   Today GPU supercomputers can deliver 10% of this goal and CPU-only supercomputers just 1%.   Assuming similar architectural and process advances occur for both GPUs and CPUs, GPUs will reach the exaflop goal by 2018.   CPU systems will be only at 1/6th of the way to the exaflop finish line at that time.

Bill envisions that by 2018, GPU exascale systems could be housed in about 400 server cabinets (comparable to the largest supercomputers today) and will solve incredibly complex problems in computational research.

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Check out Steve Keckler's blog about this on the site.

Or some press coverage of Bill's SC'10 talk.

Get Inspired on December 11

Posted: 18 Nov 2010 04:00 AM PST

Updated: 11/19/10 8:30am PT

Each year we host a series of charitable events at NVIDIA offices around the world, called Project Inspire. These events are a chance for employees to give back to their local communities through a day of volunteerism. Some recent examples include:

  • Our Beaverton, Ore., and Durham, N.C., employees worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low-income families.
  • Bedford, Mass., employees built new bikes to give to kids from the local Woburn Boys & Girls Club.
  • In Würselen, Germany, employees raised money and worked side-by-side with kids from a homeless youth shelter to build a recreational space and make other improvements.

WurselenWürselen employees work with youth to plant vegetable seedlings and herbs at the shelter.

At NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, we call Project Inspire a "party with a purpose" because we take the money might have spent on a holiday party and instead apply it to our philanthropic project. This year, we're going to History Park in San Jose, Calif., on December 11 to revitalize the grounds of this educational site through carpentry, painting, landscaping and mural design. We're also going to design and build a large community garden area, so neighborhood residents can benefit from fresh produce. As part of our donation, we'll help educate neighbors on how to plant, harvest and prepare nutritious food they can grow themselves. Lastly, we're going to construct a greenhouse so the 2,500 students that visit History Park each year can use it as a hands-on science lab.

Project InspireEmployees use Project Inspire as an opportunity to teach their kids about giving back.

Previous Project Inspires include renovating an elementary school campus and community center, and partnering with students at a San Jose high school to turn their campus into a college-like setting complete with a state-of-the-art multimedia studio, which is now used to train 100 youth per day. And in 2007 we helped revitalize an East Palo Alto charter school with murals and a teaching garden, which has become a science education destination for thousands of youth throughout Silicon Valley.

Epacs garden AFTER Overfelt Multimedia Studio
The teaching garden on the left is used by thousands of kids each year. Overfelt has used the multimedia studio on the right as an opportunity to build a vocational program in multimedia.

December 11 is fast approaching, and we are already looking forward to sharing with you the results and smiles from the day!

Inner Geek: 40,000 Digital Photos and Counting

Posted: 17 Nov 2010 06:56 AM PST

Since I'm the general manager for GeForce at NVIDIA, you might think I'm a big gamer. Truth is, there are lots of guys here more into it than me. Don't get me wrong, I love PC gaming, and it's very cool to check out new games before they get released. But when I spend my free time on my PC, it's usually not gaming.  What you will find me doing is digital photography and video editing.  I love it!  I now have over 40,000 digital photos and hours of digital videos store on my home GeForce GTX 480 SLI system (soon to be upgraded to GTX 580 SLI!).

Drew Henry - Inner Geek

Though I've been in computer graphics for almost my entire career (I was actually once an animator and even created a radiometrically accurate render), this recent hobby really all started when my daughters were born since I wanted to share their lives with family who live pretty far away (like on a small island on Lake Superior).  So as my kids have grown up I've been doing the normal Dad thing of capturing every possible moment of their lives with digital photos and videos.  Yes, even the ultrasounds!

Since my daughters both first played soccer and now play volleyball (we are a tall family), a lot of my library is sports related and most of the video work is creating 10 minute long high energy videos to share with their teams.  For these I capture hours of video footage during the season using either an HD Flip or a Sony HDR-SR11 Handycam, then edit it together with Adobe Premier Pro (GPU accelerated!) cut to whatever is the popular music of the day.  The videos feature the entire team including the coaches and everyone gets their own copy.  The kids and their parents (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) love it! 

Drew Henry - Inner Geek

I will also shoot around 500 digital photos at their volleyball matches, choose the best ones, edit with Photoshop to get them just right and then publish them to my website so the kids and their families can download and share their favorites.  These usually end up on Facebook now a days.

Drew Henry - Inner Geek

It's safe to say I've invested pretty heavily in my cameras and home system.  As I already said, I have a GeForce GTX 480 SLI with two monitors – one a high-res 24-inch display (19×12), the other display is set up with NVIDIA 3D Vision.  I now have 2TB of RAID 1 (mirrored) storage – which I will probably double pretty soon. It's not your typical home setup – that's for sure – but graphics and digital media are my passion.  For file management, I don't use any special software. I've got a folder-based system that I came up with and still follow – it works for me.

To shoot photos I use an Olympus E30 digital SLR, which I just recently bought since I wasn't happy with the imager in my old camera.  I need a really sensitive camera to shoot in low light (gymnasiums) without a flash. My new Olympus has 12 megapixels and I can set the ISO level up to 3200. I've matched it up with a telephoto lens that is just ridiculous, f2.8 to 3.2 with a digital zoom from 50mm to 200mm so I can snap shots in 1/500th of a second indoors. With it, I can capture fast action, close-up shots of the girls playing volleyball.

When I'm editing photos or videos, I'll lose all track of time. I'll stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning and get completely lost in it.  I love the entire creative process. 

Working at NVIDIA is a perfect fit for me. I love digital photography, digital video and real-time gaming, and I love producing products that let people like me do what we do.

Lackluster US Investment in Supercomputing Does Not Compute

Posted: 16 Nov 2010 12:13 AM PST

China's record-breaking Tianhe-1A supercomputer – just confirmed this week in the Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers – is no publicity stunt or state-sponsored play for mere pride. Delivering 1.4 times the performance of America's fastest supercomputer, it's a leading indicator of where computing is going.

Tianhe-1A supercomputer 
China is not chained to the anchor of legacy CPU-based computing. And while part of China's innovation is in the networking interconnect to link processors together, their achievement is based on a new and more pragmatic vision about how to deploy hardware effectively. China has made the great leap into next-generation, hybrid supercomputing by using GPUs to drive far better efficiency and performance, more economically.

It's not just about the hardware. Educating the next generation of researchers and scientists is critical. But computing capacity and infrastructure are being critically overlooked and under-invested in. Most supercomputers are already 2X over-subscribed at our current level of demand . And in this decade our level of science will see a 1,000-fold increase in its computational demands.

More broadly, there's hardly a major sector of the economy that isn't being impacted daily by supercomputing. Computer design, imaging and simulations have become critical to transportation, consumer products, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and financial services – to name just a few.

Faster computation generates the innovations and competitive edge so critical to growth and improved standard of living.

Step back from the immediate contest for hardware supremacy for a minute. Consider the consequences of falling behind in computing innovation over a longer horizon. A direct line can be drawn between the tools societies develop and the advances they make over time — in science and technology, in product development and innovation, and in economic growth.

As you trace that line – from the observations of ancient astronomers and mathematicians, and through the experimentation of the past two centuries – it's clear that the third and most vital wave of human innovation in this century is now being driven by computation.

We evolve and prosper precisely to the degree that we hone our tools to empower the minds behind them – extending our capacities in domains and dimensions constrained only by our imaginations.

Ten years from now, if we find ourselves looking back at 2010 as the year American technology was enlisted to beat us at a game we invented, it will not be a failure of technology. It will reflect a deficit of imagination. Launches Open Beta for GeForce Owners

Posted: 09 Nov 2010 02:00 AM PST

Since we started building GPUs over ten years ago, NVIDIA has had some of the most loyal and dedicated fans on the planet. Your passion for games is what has pushed us to create faster and better GPUs.

For a long time we’ve wanted to do something for you that makes your PC gaming experience better and that helps cultivate PC gaming at large. Today, we’re pleased to unveil the first step of that effort–a new website called

NV_GFcom_Logo_Wht_HR serves you in three simple ways:

Makes It Easy to Pick In-game Settings
PC games often have a lot of graphics settings, and picking the right one for your system can be difficult and time consuming. To make this easier, we’ve taken the latest games and hardware and profiled them to determine settings that maximize image quality while maintaining playable framerates. This takes the guesswork out of configuring your graphics card so you can get on with gaming. Try this out in the Optimize section.

Connects GeForce Users with Great Content
GeForce GPUs support a host of great technologies such as DirectX 11, SLI, PhysX, and 3D Vision. One of the most common questions we hear is “Which games take advantage of them?” In the Game Browser section, not only can you learn about the latest games, but the technologies that power them, and how they make the game more immersive.

Creates a Community for Our Users
Ultimately, is about creating a community for GeForce users. As a first step, we’ve revamped the forums with much more relevant categories, improved software, and a fresh new look. Second, because this site is built for you, we’re launching it as a beta and opening it up for feedback. You’ll have the first say on what gets built and what content we’ll focus on in the future.

Take a look at the site and let us know what you think! You can also join the forum thread to give us feedback on

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