The Coming Graphics in the Cloud Revolution

Michael Vizard

Every time you turn around these days applications are getting more visually-oriented. Mostly, we see this today in the form of gaming and consumer-oriented applications on the Web. But businesses also routinely make use of graphics-intensive applications such as modeling or medical imaging.

What's about to change, however, is that access to graphical processing units (GPUs) is about to get a whole lot less expensive thanks to cloud computing services. What that means, says Sumit Gupta, who heads up product management and marketing for Nvidia's Tesla products, is that mainstream enterprise software, such as business intelligence applications, will be embedding visually-oriented analytics that will be processed in the cloud.

There are some obvious network bandwidth issues that need to be overcome to make this a reality. But at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Nvidia previewed Project Denver, which combines Nvidia graphics technology with processors from ARM that will be deployed in everything from embedded systems to supercomputers.

Gupta says it's only a matter of time before providers of high performance computing (HPC) systems in the cloud harness that power for processing analytics applications. In fact, when it comes to visualization, Gupta says BI applications in general are behind the times.

For example, Autodesk is already showing how 3D applications can harness processing in the cloud. In addition, Gupta says we should also expect to see a lot of video transcoding handled in the cloud as well as the need for on-demand video graphics for Web and gaming applications growing.

In general, Gupta says visualization in all kinds of applications is about to take a major leap forward to GPU technologies. And while Intel and Advanced Micro Devices may be talking up the benefits of integrated graphics on the PC, the real action in terms of advancing enterprise applications is going to be taking place on servers built around GPUs, many of which will be deployed in both public and private cloud computing scenarios.
 



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