Saturday, December 13, 2008

A pair of news and laughter attack

Yesterday at the office one coworker showed me a news, and suddenly I started laughing. It wasn't a simple laughter. It was a laugh attack, the kind that leaves us breathless, like the ones that puts tears on our eyes.

To explain why this happened I need to fill you with some background information. Without it, this isn't funny at all. Some time ago Nvidia purchased the Ageia Physx technology that allows to develop hardware specialized in calculating physics model data. It used that technology to bulti it in their video cards.

While this technology was developed to assist in the processing of game data, soon it became clear that there was another area where it could help a lot. So Nvidia developed a new series of drivers called CUDA, allowing people to use that technology and the massive paralel processing power of modern video cards to process scientific information. This added a lot of power to the distributed computing systems.

The news my coworker showed me yesterday commented that they were developing a technology to use the extra processors of multiple core chips to process graphics.

Think about it. Let it sink in. Why would a processor need to process the graphical data? Because the video card is executing the processor processes. When I thought that, I just couldn't stop myself from laughing.

Of course, that's not the real reason why this technology is being developed. Some talk with my friends and some later thinking showed me at least two other reasons why this could be useful.

One: lower power video cards, as the ones found in office computers and some laptops. In this case, an alternative to this card using one of the cores of multiple core processors some of this machines are equiped with might prove interesting.

Two: even more interesting. Windows XP doesn't have DX10, but if one can emulate DX10 in one of the cores and let the video card use that DX10, it might be that the speed advantage of Windows XP over Vista could help to run DX10 games at a decent speed in a XP box.

Of course, a part of me is still laughing while I write this, and another part insists in making me say that this type of trickery wouldn't be necessary if DX10 were open source technology. In this case one would be able to simply port the packages from one Operating System to another.

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