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Nvidia Corp., a leading designer of graphics processing units (GPUs), on Tuesday launched its new program called GPU Ventures, which aim is to identify, support and invest in early stage companies leveraging the GPU for visual and other computing applications. The move is a year another effort to popularize parallel computing as well as general purpose processing on GPUs (GPGPU).

“The GPU Ventures Program represents a huge opportunity for young ambitious companies basing their businesses around the GPU. These companies are the innovators that will fuel the continued growth of the GPU platform. Through this program we will provide financial, marketing and other support to help start-up companies realize their full potential and we strongly encourage interested entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and others to reach out to us with their ideas,” said Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia.

Through the GPU Ventures Program, Nvidia intends to evaluate companies that leverage the GPU for both consumer and professional applications in all areas such as video and image enhancement, scientific discovery, financial analysis and 3D interfaces. Investments are expected to range from $500 thousand to $5 million, and strategic partnerships are expected to span joint marketing, joint development, product distribution and beyond.

Nvidia is tremendously interested in making GPGPU technologies popular as wide adoption of graphics processors for purposes not related to PC video games ensures that the total available market of graphics chips will continue to grow. In addition, Nvidia is working hard to prove that GPUs can solve complex computing tasks better than traditional central processing units and steal market and revenue share from companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Intel Corp., IBM and some other developers of microprocessors.

Another reason why Nvidia is interested in popularization of current GPGPU technologies and its GeForce graphics processors is approaching release on Intel’s code-named Larrabee discrete graphics processing unit, which is a highly-parallel x86 micro-architecture chip that is compatible with many applications and compilers already available. Nvidia needs to make GPGPU ecosystem of today much bigger in order not to lose GPGPU battle with Intel’s x86.

Nvidia has already invested in such start ups as Acceleware, Elemental Technologies, Keyhole Corp. (acquired by Google for Google Earth), Mental Images (acquired by Nvidia), MotionDSP and Right Hemisphere. These companies were among 60 other start-ups that met with key figures in the investment and technical community at Nvidia’s 2008 Emerging Companies Summit, due to take place again in the Fall of 2009.

Tags: Nvidia, Geforce, GPGPU

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