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PNY's Carl Flygare talks graphics cards at SIGGRAPH09

By John Virata

Graphics cards play a central role in the creation of animation and special effects that artists see annually at the SIGGRAPH show (in New Orleans this year) and what consumers seem to desire more of in their daily exposure to digital entertainment, be it via the movies, video games, ride simulators, even TV. Over the last several years, artists have been pushing the envelope in what they can create with the tools that are available to them. DMN spoke with Quadro Marketing Manager Carl Flygare about the latest innovation in graphics cards, what the market is doing, and how PNY works with its customers to ensure the best possible experience.

DMN: With regard to graphics processing, what new technology do you expect to see at SIGGRAPH 2009? What will PNY showcase at the show?

Carl Flygare, PNY: The 'new' in new technology can have different meanings. For example it can be new to a particular customer set, and in this can our FX 4800 for Mac product clearly meets this criteria since it brings professional graphics benefits and features to the vibrant Mac-based portion of the DCC and 3D design community. New can also relate to application -- in this case Elemental Accelerator for Quadro which allows our FX 5800, FX 4800, FX 3800, FX 1800, and FX 4800 for Mac to accelerate flash or H.264 encoding with Adobe Premiere CS4, or dramatically shorten post-production in Adobe After Effects CS4. New also implies accessibility, and NVIDIA Quadro Plex enables scalable visualization solutions to be offered to, and easily implemented by, customers who -- in the past- thought immersive 4K panel or projector exper5iences were beyond their reach.

Our signature demonstrations this year include the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 for Mac running Elemental Accelerator for Adobe CS4, the high-end FX 3800 running popular Autodesk DCC applications, the NVIDIA Quadro Digital Video Pipeline, specifically realtime SDI video processing, and scalable visualization solutions powered by the NVIDIA Quadro Plex 2200 D2.

NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 for Mac

DMN: Datasets are getting bigger and bigger as artists continue to push the envelope of digital effects. How is PNY working with the 3D software vendors to ensure that their applications are getting the most performance out of PNY's hardware that they can?
PNY: The unified Architecture of NVIDIA Quadro GPUs enables PNY's professional graphics boards to dynamically allocate hardware resources (unified shaders) to either vertex (geometry) or pixel (lighting, surface effects, etc.) needs based on what the user is asking the application -- hence the graphics board -- to do. This optimizes use of available hardware resources and precludes bottlenecks. Frame buffer capacity has reached 4GB (FX 5800) and memory bandwidth is always a design priority as well. We also work closely with NVIDIA and ISVs to ensure that Quadro drivers are thoroughly performance optimized for professional applications. Stability and quality are also part of our performance metric however. Uptime directly translates into creative or billable time and display (output) quality ensures that the designer's or artist's intent is realized, not relegated under the pressure of a deadline.

DMN: How is PNY working with its customers to ensure optimum graphics output of its solutions?
PNY: Two words -- service and commitment. For over 25 years, PNY has built its success on a corporate culture that provides innovative, high-quality products and exceptional customer support. These qualities are exemplified in the superior design and support offered for our Quadro line of professional graphics products. For over 25 years, PNY has built its success on a corporate culture that provides innovative, high-quality products and exceptional customer support. These qualities are exemplified in the superior design and support offered for our Quadro line of professional graphics products.

Offering pre-and post sales assistance, three year warranty upon registration, toll-free professional technical support, and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, our partners and customers experience first hand why PNY Quadro is considered a market leader in the professional graphics industry.

DMN: Today's graphics cards have large amounts of memory onboard. What kind of performance improvements should users expect to see with 1.5GB of graphics memory capabilities?
PNY: In addition to traditional OpenGL or DirectX needs the 'G' in GPU increasingly stands for 'General' purpose -- e.g. NVIDIA CUDA, or Elemental Accelerator for CS4, or the visualization community that needs to see the results of extremely sophisticated calculations. Graphics memory is, analogously, like the CPU's cache -- extremely fast, high bandwidth, low latency memory available to the GPU for critical data. As the frame buffer (cache) expands more demanding datasets can be accessed directly from frame buffer memory. Although the performance boost varies by application, decreased latency offers tangible performance benefits to a broad spectrum of 3D design, DCC, visualization, and science/technical computing customers.

DMN: What does this mean for those who need to push huge datasets as part of their daily workflow?
PNY: In a word, productivity. Less time waiting and more time working. The ability to explore more 'speculative' design or creative approaches because time -- now -- is on your side. The economics range from more billable hours to reduced time from insight to discovery (e.g. oil and gas exploration, in-silico biotech simulations and/or visualization). Ultimately any application that will benefit from doing more in less time -- pretty much everything -- will benefit.

DMN: How about 64-bit Windows. It has been touted for the last four to five years as the next generation creative platform. Have animators and other effects artists successfully migrated to Windows 64? Have the software vendors made their applications 64-bit native?
PNY: It's still a diverse 32- and 64-bit XP installed base but 64-bit is the new playing field. The ISVs have delivered 64-bit versions of their popular applications, and the impending release of Windows 7 will lead to another round of innovation as 64-bit foundations are complemented by a new graphics model.

DMN: What has surprised you with regard to graphics cards from this time last year?
PNY: Realization, rather than surprise, is the right word. GPUs are doing tasks that were formerly reserved for CPUs or dedicated HW, and doing them better than either. The massive parallelism inherent in GPUs is being unlocked by development tools and APIs such as NVIDIA CUDA or OpenCL. From year to year we always know that graphics boards will get faster, that frame buffer capacities will increase, but over the past year the breadth of application development -- from strictly graphics to general purpose GPU computing -- has been surprisingly innovative and fun to watch.

For more information on PNY at SIGGRAPH, please visit

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:graphics cards, NVIDIA quadro, PNY Quadro, OpenGL graphics,

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