Sick of sitting there while iTunes encodes your torrented videos to Apple's H.264 format for your iPod? The latest NVIDIA cards will dramatically speed this process up.
Another week, another salvo in the GPU wars. However, the last few days have been more noteworthy than most, with NVIDIA launching its first new GPU architecture since the 8800GTX. The release of its new GTX 200 series saw the Internet buckle under the load of umpteen dozen reviews and their graphics-heavy benchmark results, but amongst this landslide of Crysis and Call of Duty tests lay buried some cool uses for NVIDIA’s new chips.
Thanks to NVIDIA’s new CUDA software, a range of applications are soon going to be tapping into the specialised processing abilities of NVIDIA’s cards in ways that will make your CPU seem positively pathetic. iPod users will appreciate Elemental Technologies’ BadaBOOM Media Converter. Due in August, it allows video transcoding via the GPU which is eighteen times faster than today’s CPU based method. The ever popular Folding@Home is another application to get a massive kick in the pants from CUDA. Compared to a 3GHz quad core processor, the GPU version of Folding@Home is 45 times faster when processed on the GTX 280. Does that mean we can write off our shiny new $1,100 graphics cards as a charity donation – after all, we’re helping to rid the world of cancer as well as rid Counterstrike servers of virtual terrorists?
Finally, NVIDIA is at last rolling out PhysX support. Instead of needing a standalone expensive PhysX card to enable slightly more detailed physics in a mere handful of games, you’ll be able to use your expensive new GTX card to enable slightly more detailed physics in a mere handful of games (apparently 8000-series cards will also be supported). Can you tell we’re far more excited about the video transcoding than the overhyped PhysX feature?
This week has been all about NVIDIA’s new V8 of video cards, but AMD’s broadside reply is just around the corner. Sadly, its warm up shot this week came off as a just a little bit tragic...
We received a gushing press release proclaiming that AMD’s new Cinema 2.0 demo “Punches Hole in ‘Sensory Barrier’ Separating Cinema and Games”. Not content with merely easing between the barrier between film and games, AMD’s new punch-tastic power was of course being delivered by its new RV770 chipset. According to the release, the demo was a video clip which “showed the fusion of dynamic real-time interactivity with convincing cinematic digital effects that appear to be real places and things captured on video.” You could have fooled us though – on the accompanying Cinema 2.0 website
the only evidence of the demo is a 12 second low-res video of what looks like a pretty crap game featuring ATI’s Ruby character.
Thankfully the whole site isn’t entirely pathetic, with a few quotes from the developers of Crysis and Enemy Territory helping to prop up this dodgey marketing message.
As an attempt to derail NVIDIA’s day in the spotlight, the entire thing came off as one of the lamest PR efforts we’ve yet seen. It’s a little worrying that this is the best AMD could do – we think a few leaked benchmarks of its new part would have been infinitely more effective. Now we’re starting to worry that those benchmarks simply don’t stack up. We’ll soon see, with the RV770 due out later this month. Fingers crossed that our doubts are unfounded.