CES 2010: NVIDIA

by: John -
NVIDIA’s showing at CES 2010 looks like it will give them a very promising year. At the press conference that I attended on Thursday, Tegra 2 and 3D Vision were the emphasis but the booth featured a showing of their next generation card in a few areas.

Let’s touch on the press conference for a bit. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen in Tegra or NVIDIA’s mobile solution and they really pushed their upcoming Tegra 2 product that will be featured in many tablets and automobiles from Audi. Tegra 2 has 8 independent processors and features their first dual-core Cortex A9 GPU. What it translates to is 10X the performance of your average current smartphone all while running on 500 milliWatts of energy.

While real world situations will dictate what the true battery life is, Tegra 2’s testing produced around 140 hours of music or 16 hours of HD video playing on prototype devices. If we see even half of that in consumer devices, I’d be pretty happy as that would pretty much give you enough battery life in terms of video for some of the longest flights.

The press conference actually had a few tablets up and running such as one from Verizon that included 4G, one from Foxconn running Android, and an MSI tablet that displayed really nice video via an HDMI connection. There were tablets of various sizes from many manufactures being displayed and talked about for the future.

You can expect 10.1 Flash which features hardware assistance so you can experience full resolution video and smooth games. Tim Sweeney of Epic Games was also on hand showing off a demo of their Unreal 3 engine running on the tablet. It’s the full version complete with gameplay, visuals, and physics in a very portable platform. Content creators can use the same tools and same development processes to build a game using the engine that can be deployed to a PC, console, and soon a Tegra 2 based tablet.

NVIDIA really pushed the tablet as the next big thing with over 50 designs from various companies in play. For me, the price is the issue as I don’t know if I would spend the money just to have a computer without a keyboard but a touchscreen but we’ll see what the consumers think when these devices start to become available soon. I will say that Tegra 2 does look pretty impressive with the features it touts.

GeForce 3D Vision, which I reviewed, is making their way to laptops with solutions from various vendors. ASUS and MSI had computers in their areas showing off the technology whereby purchasing one of these gaming notebooks nets you a 120HZ display, an IR emitter, and a pair of shutter goggles for you to play in 3D. If you haven’t tried it, it’s pretty cool what can be done and NVIDIA’s solution works out really well.

At the booth, the GF100 was on display in two areas. First up was a desktop featuring three cards with a liquid cooled solution. The demo featured a rocket sled made up of independent parts that reacted to each other using PhysX. The tessellation feature of DirectX 11 was shown as the presented switched from the normal to wireframe view showing off the amount of polygons being generated. The rocket sled took off and you could see the individual pieces moving independently and interacting with other parts. It was a demo that just showed GF100 in action and any questions asked about performance and so forth were met with a “No comment”. Still, it was good to see the card finally in action and hopefully it’s a small step to a final release of the product.

When I was with AMD, we talked about Eyefinity and 3D and they said that maybe if someone could achieve 3D with multiple monitor support that that could be the be all end all gaming experience. Well, NVIDIA did announce multiple monitor support with 3D Vision and it was being shown at their booth.

You’ll need multiple video cards in SLI mode to achieve this and turning on 3D will net you a 50% loss in performance but seeing a racing game in a very wide display featuring three monitors was pretty damn sweet. The demo machine had a few GF100 cards running and it was one of the more popular areas in the booth next to being able to get hands on with a Tegra 2 tablet.

NVIDIA had some really nice products being shown at CES but for me, seeing GF100 there along with the triple monitor GeForce 3D Vision support really was fun. Let’s hope there are no more delays for GF100 and the release will be in a few months as they promised it will be the fastest DX11 card out there at the time of release.

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