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Nvidia Treads into Servers

The new widgetry moves ultra-fast graphics-intensive tasks from pricey workstations to low-end PCs

GPU maker Nvidia Tuesday diversified away from its traditional PC market to sell its first server product - complete with software.

The new widgetry moves ultra-fast graphics-intensive tasks from pricey workstations to low-end PCs.

Nvidia calls the 4U server-like widgetry the Grid Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), touted as a first, and says it will let SMBs use sophisticated graphics without each worker having a high-end PC.

"It's as if you have your own virtual high-end PC under your desk," CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said during a presentation in California.

Based on two Xeon E5 CPUs, 192GB or 384GB of memory as well as a rack of eight or 16 of Nvidia's own Kepler GPUs, it will let Mac laptops, Linux or Windows clients, and apparently Android tablets, tap into programs used to running only on high-end workstations.

The widgetry virtualized the whole concoction so as many as 16 users can connect through low-end PCs to graphics-intensive work on the same system at the same time. It promises low latency, high resolution and maximum interactivity.

Users will pay Nvidia for both the hardware and software. The system will be available in May for $24,900 to start for the hardware and $2,400 a year for a software license to Nvidia's Grid VGX stack. That configuration should support eight concurrent users.

The $39,900 model with its $4,800-a-year software license supports 16 concurrent virtual workstation users.

Once the widgetry gets out of beta and onto the street through reseller channels it's supposed to service a market valued at $5 billion a year.

Nvidia has partnered with HP, IBM and Dell to pitch servers encasing its boards to larger companies and Microsoft, Citrix and VMware will be offering Grid-enabled software with their own hypervisors.

Nvidia's VGX software will be licensed by Citrix for use in XenDesktop, XenApp and XenServer; VMware for use in vSphere and Horizon View; and Microsoft for use in RemoteFX.

Nvidia will be certifying and validating solutions.

Otoy's already got a rendering cloud based on the VCA running in a data center in Los Angeles. Huang said the wait time and cost of making small changes to produce a movie has now disappeared.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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