Nvidia makes Google Earth 'emotional reality'

The graphics card maker says its latest system will break new ground in flight simulation, 3D design and oil exploration
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Nvidia has developed a graphics system which experts claim could enhance 3D applications such as Google Earth to levels that go well beyond any existing simulation.

The Quadro Plex 1000 unit, which the company has described as "an order-of-magnitude increase in levels of productivity and capability for advanced visualisation", is based on Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU (graphics processing unit) technology, and will hit the market in September at around $17,500 (£9,200).

Google Earth's chief technologist, Michael Jones, described running the application on Nvidia's unit as "an astounding visual experience" which takes the viewer "from visual simulation to emotional reality".

Nvidia said it hopes the Quadro Plex 1000 — which offers 148-megapixel resolution and 80 billion pixel-per-second performance — will find applications in the HD (high definition) video, 3D design, medical visualisation and flight simulator industries, as well as in oil and gas exploration.

"The Nvidia Quadro Plex addresses a real need for geoscientists, as it allows standard workstations and servers to drive high-performance, large-scale visualisation configurations," said Nicholas Purday, manager of geological and geophysical technologies at a division of Halliburton.

Dani Ruiz, a 3D animator for a London games company, told ZDNet UK that the anti-aliasing capabilities of the unit made it suitable for real-time pre-visualisation and achieving "soft lines in real time with a super-high frame rate", adding that no game is currently of a high enough specification to "get close" to utilising the unit's capabilities. Anti-aliasing removes the blocks and jagged edges that result from displaying a high-resolution signal at lower resolutions.

The Quadro Plex 1000 will be compatible with "an officially certified set of x86 32- and 64-bit Intel and AMD processors running Windows and Linux operating systems", according to Nvidia.

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