NVIDIA VCA is created to do simply one thing: provide designers and artists with the rapid and easiest way to create photo realistic images of their creations. It’s so fast that designers can interact with their models in real time rather than waiting minutes, or even hours, for rendered images to come back.
This means that designers can read and understand the play of light and reflection from their designs and catch flaws like glare on the interior windshield of a digital car or see how the lobby of a proposed office building will look at different times of day.
CAD software is now becoming more and more potential and resulting models become more complex and large in size, it needs more and more horsepower under the hood of engineering workstations to run effectively. Here NVIDIA acts like an undisputed leader in the 3D graphic cards market.
One could find NVIDIA cards working quietly behind the scenes everywhere at this year’s SolidWorks World, being that its cards are the most popular among SolidWorks users with approximately 80-85 % of the SolidWorks market.
The most popular of which is the Quadro Pro K2000 cards that sell for only about $400, a very small price to pay for significantly increased productivity.
Achieved to deliver 5 times faster performance over its predecessor, the Quadro K6000 can deliver 1.3 billion triangles per second, shattering previous 3D graphics limitations. For serious data crunching for many applications such as CFD, these cards deliver performance gains of 8X. Seeing these high-end cards playing their role was quite impressive though Andrew Cresci, vertical marketing General Manager of NVIDIA, saved the best for last.
Not happy just being the leader in 3D graphics acceleration for the design world, NVIDIA has kept its eyes on harnessing its technology for shared computing. Cresci gave me a sneak peak at the company’s Visual Computing Appliance (VCA).
The appliance can be located anywhere might be in a data center or a company’s centralized IT center and can feed graphics to nearly any computing device, including mobile devices, iPads,low-end PCs, etc. It works by compressing graphics from a centralized server-like hub from any distance with no discernible lag.
And this is really cool. One can be able to manipulate a rather large SolidWorks assembly running on a PC in the NVIDIA booth that was being feed from the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara, 400 miles away from where one is. You can very quickly see the advantage of VCA for engineers and designers. Just imagine being able to tap the computing power of a large server running existing software from your low end PC or iPad.
It’s hard to not visualise real productivity benefits VCA offers to product developers as companies continue to try to squeeze more value out of existing resources both software and hardware. It’s not cheap; $25K and more for a floating license, but certainly a tech offering we’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.