With the release of Adobe CS4, many of us are seeing the power of software leveraging the GPU for the first time. I have personally seen a rather significant increase in redraw performance when zooming, seemingly a direct result of GPU acceleration in Photoshop. But this pales in comparison to what’s on the horizon for desktop computing. Pictured above is the newly announced Tesla desktop “supercomputer” from graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia. Around $9,000 will buy a configuration delivering 4 teraflops of performance and sporting nearly 1,000 processor cores (4 GPUs @ 240 cores ea.). Yes, $9,000 is way more than most of us ever plan on spending for a computer, but this number is significantly lower than even the lowest entry point for previous so-called “supercomputers”. The point is that this signals a sea change in the relative performance of desktop computing. In the near future we could be seeing performance leaps by factors of hundreds or even thousands as opposed to the incremental bumps we’re getting now. As with all technology, the prices will come down and the technology will become mainstream (apparently Dell already has plans to begin manufacturing a consumer version). This is really exciting news for us in the creative sector, while most people would never need this kind of performance at any price, this could fundamentally change the way we create and edit graphics, audio, and video. This is also a potential boon for society in general as low-cost machines like these could enable scientists and researchers to run computer simulations and experiments that once took a year in a single day leading to new breakthroughs in science and medicine.
More info on the Tesla can be found here, and if you’re wallet is getting too heavy you can actually buy one here.
On a side note, who the hell designs this hardware? Why does it all look like the old Xbox? Why does it all look like some bad late-nineties rendition of what alien hardware might look like? Why is there always so much green involved? Hopefully Apple designs one soon.