Nvidia Unveils Cloud Graphics Processing Technologies

Nvidia’s Grid and VGX Processors to Enable High-End Graphics on Any Device

by Anton Shilov
05/15/2012 | 07:11 PM

Nvidia Corp. on Tuesday introduced what may be one of its most important developments in the recent years: cloud technologies that allow processing of graphics data from any device. Nvidia’s Grid and VGX cloud graphics processors enable gamer-grade or professional-grade graphics capabilities on absolutely any device, including desktops, laptops, tablets or even smartphones.


Thanks to a set of virtualization technologies supported by graphics processing units (GPUs) that belong to Kepler family, Nvidia now offers Grid, a cloud graphics solution for consumers for gaming applications, and VGX, a cloud graphics solutions for professional usage in professional programs. Both technologies enable high-performance graphics processing on devices that simply cannot take advantage of the latest power-hungry GPUs.

"Kepler cloud GPU technologies shifts cloud computing into a new gear. The GPU has become indispensable. It is central to the experience of gamers. It is vital to digital artists realizing their imagination. It is essential for touch devices to deliver silky smooth and beautiful graphics. And now, the cloud GPU will deliver amazing experiences to those who work remotely and gamers looking to play untethered from a PC or console," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of Nvidia.

Nvidia VGX: One Professional Board Can Serve Multiple Users

Nvidia VGX platform enables workers for the first time to access a GPU-accelerated desktop similar to a traditional local PC from any device (thin client, laptop, tablet or smartphone) regardless of its operating system, and enjoy a responsive experience for the full spectrum of applications previously only available on an office PC. The platform's manageability options and ultra-low latency remote display capabilities extend this convenience to those using 3D design and simulation tools, which had previously been too intensive for a virtualized desktop.

Nvidia VGX uniquely addresses the user experience issues of traditional virtualized desktop infrastructure by adding a fully virtualized GPU board to the data center. This now enables up to one hundred users to share a VGX board with a true PC experience with GPU-accelerated VDI (GPU-VDI). Initially, Nvidia will offer one quad-GPU graphics card with 768 stream processors and up to 4GB of memory per chip. The card will be 10.5” in length and 4.4” in height, hence, it will require new cases, special power supply units and so on. Still, Nvidia promises that machines with Nvidia VGX hardware will fit into common server racks.

One of the key features of GPU-accelerated desktop virtualization cloud platform is Nvidia’s sophisticated VGX Hypervisor that manages the GPU resources to allow multiple users to share common hardware, improving user density on a single server while providing true PC performance and compatibility.

Integrating the VGX platform into the corporate network enables enterprise IT departments to address the complex challenges of BYOD (bring your own device) trend and delivers a remote desktop to these devices, providing users the same access they have on their desktop terminal. At the same time, it helps reduce overall IT spend, improve data security and minimize data center complexity.

Nvidia GeForce Grid: High-Quality Gaming Now Available Everywhere

Nvidia GeForce Grid cloud gaming platform allows gaming-as-a-service providers to stream next-generation games to virtually any device with lower latency, while incurring lower operating costs, particularly related to energy usage.

Gamers benefit from the ability to play the latest, most sophisticated games on any connected device, including TVs, smartphones and tablets running Apple iOS and Google Android, provided that game designers implemented special ways to control their titles from those devices.

The key technologies powering the new platform are Nvidia GeForce Grid GPUs with dedicated ultra-low-latency streaming technology and cloud graphics software. Together, they fundamentally change the economics and experience of cloud gaming, enabling gaming-as-a-service providers to operate scalable data centers at costs that are in line with those of movie-streaming services.

The first GeForce Grid graphics card will feature two GPUs each with its own encoder and 1536 stream processors. The boards enable providers to render highly complex games in the cloud and encode them on the GPU, rather than the CPU, allowing their servers to simultaneously run more game streams. Server power-consumption per game stream is reduced to about one-half that of previous implementations, an important metric for data centers.

Fast streaming technology reduces server latency to as little as 10 milliseconds by capturing and encoding a game frame in a single pass. The GeForce Grid platform uses fast-frame capture, concurrent rendering and single-pass encoding to achieve ultra-fast game streaming.

The latency-reducing technology in GeForce Grid GPUs compensates for the distance in the network, so gamers will feel like they are playing on a gaming supercomputer located in the same room. What remains to be seen, though, is whether such encoding and decoding of a very dynamic video stream will provide the same level of quality as local PCs.

Nvidia and Gaikai demonstrated a virtual game console, consisting of an LG Cinema 3D Smart TV running a Gaikai application connected to a GeForce Grid GPU in a server 10 miles away. Instant, lag-free play was enabled on a highly complex PC game, with only an Ethernet cable and wireless USB game pad connected to the TV.

"A cloud GPU is transformational technology for the online gaming industry. Using a graphics-optimized cloud GPU eliminates some of the final barriers that stand in the way of a truly immersive, truly exciting cloud-based gaming experience and could change the business model for how games are played and delivered," said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner.