For most people Nvidia may just be famous for producing GeForce graphics card, but story is quite different: in fifteen years (1993-2009), they have elevated to such an extent that they control the world of graphics; its trends, the fate of competitors and the path that leads to the future. Major areas include graphics processing unit, motherboards, chipsets, graphics cards, Ion platform, video game-consoles and solutions for mobile computing. The giant has become so fat that many companies and OEMs depend on it; as more than 15 companies have used Nvidia® Ion™ to inject hundreds of portable netbooks and nettops in the market this year.
Nvidia Ion is a motherboard platform that has an embedded GPU and Processor. The current version of Ion uses GeForce 9400M (MCP79) GPU and Intel Atom Processor. The key feature of Ion is its performance/size ratio which makes it ideal for nettops, netbooks and laptops. Ion offers significant computing power while keeping the price and energy dissipation low. It is fully capable of playing HD videos and includes DirectX 10 support. It also supports Nvidia’s CUDA Technology to help accelerate many demanding applications. The platform offers top notch performance while running premium versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Ion is currently available for sale to OEMs.
Many manufacturers like Acer, Lenovo, CompuLab, Viewsonic and Emtec G have released numerous Ion based products. Some of these products are listed here. The small size and low power consumption of Ion has helped manufacturers to develop small, light weight and portable devices for daily use. Currently Ion is used in four type of systems i.e. Full-size Notebooks, Mini-Notebooks or netbooks, Small Form Factor Desktops or nettops and All-in-one PCs. Out of these, the netbooks and nettops have proven to be the most successful. Ion is capable of playing many games including Call of Duty 4.
Famous Products that use Ion Platform:
Lenovo IdeaPad S12 – First ION Based Netbook in the market
Recently Nvidia introduced ‘Ion LE’ which is slightly underpowered and lower priced edition of Ion. Instead of DirectX 10, Ion LE will only support DirectX 9. Ion LE is suitable for netbook running Windows XP, while Ion original is for systems running Windows 7. However, Ion LE retains the capability to decode HD media content.
2. 3D Vision
3D vision is aimed towards providing a virtual 3D environment to the gamers to depict as if they were playing in the real world. The concept is not new; there has been device in past that allow you to view different scenes in 3D view. Nvidia 3D vision is basically a pair of glasses, however it uses a monitor supporting 120 Hz display. There is an infrared transmitter that synchronizes the monitor and the glasses. The monitor generates one image for left eye, then one image for right eye and so on so that each eye receives images at a normal smooth rate of 60 Hz. This produces a 3D effect to the viewer.
If you don’t have a monitor that can support 3D vision, you need to buy Samsung 2233RZ 22″ monitor with a resolution of 1680×1050 and capable of generating 120 Hz display.The 3D Vision kit will costs $200 and if you want a monitor too then you have to pay extra $400, see 3D vision buying options. Another option is that you buy only 3D Vision kit from Nvidia and buy any cheap monitor from the market that supports it. For a complete system to work you need 3D vision kit, 3D vision ready Display, compatible graphics card and PC with Windows Vista or Windows 7.
There are more than four hundred games available that are supported by NVIDIA 3D, see all supported games. You can also watch pictures in 3D experience using this kit. Although this product was not a big success like Ion, still it was a good improvement in the market and it will open doors for more advanced technologies in the world of graphics in future. 3DVision can also be used to watch 3D movies. Such videos have started to appear which lets the user select any angle in the 3D environment while the movie runs. However, this technology is at an initial stage due to lack of availability and high prices of cameras capable of shooting 3D videos.
Nvidia GeForce is the main consumer level product, which is made for graphics acceleration in games and media applications. Since 1999, a number of graphics cards have been released by Nvidia under the brand name: GeForce with head-to-head competition with ATI Radeon, a brand by AMD. The Geforce series graphics processors offers extreme computation ability to accelerate complex graphics. The current generation Geforce products supports DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.0 standards while the computing power ranges to TeraFlops.
Graphics card has become inevitable with so many games and introduction of HD videos to the computing world. If you don’t have one, you’re missing a lot of experience of high graphic entertainment and computing. Nvidia controls the world of graphics, almost every other user has a discrete graphic cards and out of this major share holder is Nvidia. GeForce attained its popularity by offering a lot of features like scaling, noise reduction, anti aliasing, hardware acceleration, multi-monitor and others in a same graphics card. The Geforce products can be categorized in entry-level, mainstream and enthusiast market segment. Derivatives of the Geforce chips are also being used in popular gaming consoles such as Play Station 3 which uses RSX ‘Reality Synthesizer’ based on Geforce 7800 Architecture.
One thing that always amuses me about Nvidia is how they value their customers. Nvidia provides various tutorials, videos and step by step guide for you to select the best product suitable for you. On their website, Nvidia has a beautiful tool that helps you decide which graphics card or motherboard you should buy. Select the best Graphics cards and Motherboard.
Unlike GeForce, Quadro graphics-cards by Nvidia are used in system that perform extensive CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and DCC (digital content creation). These cards are ideal for environments that make big projects related to computer graphics like animation movie. There are many families of quadro depending on the type of use.
Quadro Plex gives visual supercomputing power to scientists, engineers and other professional who want to perform visual-extensive processes. The D series is for simple tasks and come in a size of desktop PC, while S series is more powerful and more flexible.
Nvidia Tegra is a solution to visual computing needs for mobile, smart phones, portable navigation devices and hand-held devices. The new tegra 600 series provides a powerful graphics-friendly processor on a very small chip. It supports 1080p HD video using very low power consumption that supports about 10 hour of HD video playback. Tegra consumes as low as 1W while decoding full HD 1080p video!
The power of Tegra can be judged by the fact that the new Zune HD player by Microsoft is powered by Nvidia Tegra Processor. The ultra low powered HD Tegra processor make web browsing more efficient by fully supporting web 2.0 features and social media applications. Nvidia has given a clue that soon such mobile devices will hit the market that will be powered by Tegra. Nvidia holds the honor of being the first to provide each application a virtual GPU, thus capable of running simultaneous task at once on small devices. It gives a new experience to mobile games like Call of Duty 2 (mobile), Quake Mobile and Need for Speed™ Most Wanted (mobile).
This was merely some introduction about the products that rule the world of games and graphics. Here I would also like to mention some technologies as they are the backbone of products. All these products shine because of some awesome technologies that Nvidia have invented; some famous are CUDA, PureVideo HD and PhysX.
Nvidia also offers technologies such as CUDA which enables the GPU to do much more than graphics processing. CUDA enabled graphics chipsets can accelerate many applications such as video and audio conversion, real time physics processing in games and acceleration of flash based content by using GP-GPU funtions. Nvidia maintains that some media and content creation applications can gain from CUDA by lowering hardware cost while reducing the time needed to complete the process. The new technology is also being used in Windows 7 to provide DirectCompute for Geforce 8 series and above GPUs. This new technology is currently evolving and application support is getting wider. Nvidia has partnered with companies such as Adobe and Nero to give GPU acceleration is flash based media as well as in popular softwares such as Adobe Photoshop, Cyberlink PowerDVD and PowerDirector, Badaboom Media converter, Nero Move it and the list goes on. Thus, this technology realizes the graphics processor as completely programmable processing unit which is able to produce high-end results.
It helps you play high quality videos smoothly in devices without using much power and processing. This technology works, with the help of drivers and dedicated video-processing core, on almost all new graphics cards released by Nvidia. PureVideo HD totally changes the movie experience on your PC as they claim it can deliver six times the detail of standard DVD movies.
With all these technologies, Nvidia has almost lifted all the graphics-processing-burden from the main Processor, so you don’t need a expensive processor if you have the right graphics card. This helps the processor to remain idle for other important processing tasks and your PC won’t hang while watching HD movies and doing other task simultaneously.
NVIDIA® PhysX® technology delivers real-time, hyper-realistic physical and environmental gaming effects in the games you want to play today and tomorrow. “Canned” reactions are a thing of the past – PhysX-powered games comes to life with blazing explosions, reactive debris, realistic water, and lifelike character motion. PhysX is built for all gaming platforms – but on PCs you can take advantage of NVIDIA GPU technology to turbo-charge PhysX with GPU acceleration.
This is a complete market hold and I believe Nvidia achieved it by staying one step ahead all the time. Take example of the Nvidia Ion that was released right at the time when everyone was talking about portability. Obviously Nvidia would have been working on Ion project for years, when nobody thought of nettops and netbook. Slowly they are becoming the essentials of every electronic device and soon they will be as big as Intel.
Months before the release of Windows 7, Nvidia started making quite a fuss about how their technology is ready for supporting all the features including touch-screen of Windows 7. This is well played, same happened when Windows Vista was about to release. Nvidia is always ready, whenever some fuss generates about any product, idea or technology; Nvidia releases their expertise to compliment that product.
10. Because Nvidia laughs at Crysis
I remember when I went to purchase Crysis, the shopkeeper asked: do you have a graphics card’, I said yes and the next question was: Which one. There I realized for the first time that there are common games in market that not every graphics card can run. It’s strange to see the direction of game development, I still remember NFS Hot Pursuit II that used to run smoothly on my 667 Mhz processor with 64 MB built-in graphics on motherboard.
Images from Nvidia
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