The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

Post with the Pros pulled together its most impressive roster yet for our virtual reality showcase. Demos from manufacturers HTC, NVIDIA, HP, Imagineer, Dolby and EditShare were followed by an expert panel led by our very own Jamie Allan, featuring Mike Davis (Creative Director at Alchemy VR), Oliver Kibblewhite (Head of Special Projects at Rewind), The Mill’s Creative Technologist Kevin Young and Halo’s Head of Audio Operations, Richard Addis. 

Highlights of the night included workflow tips from EditShare (above and beyond “use EditShare”, they recommend an Adobe editing workflow aided by Mettle’s SkyBox Studio 2 plugin), previews of of NVIDIA’s upcoming offerings (a VR WORKS 360 Video SDK that enables realtime stitching of 4K; Pascal architecture that’s up to 95% faster than the previous generation and capable of rendering out both ‘eyes’ of content for a head mounted display simultaneously), and the chance to try out immersive content from a range of our customers, as well as sampling content from the manufacturers themselves.

Story telling vs story living

While the VR market is growing massively, it’s still a relatively new medium, and our panel were keen to pin down how it should and shouldn’t be employed. Our experts were cautious of projects that treated VR like a new version of 3D TV rather than a unique medium, insisting that it needs to be applied to projects where “you think ‘there’s no way this could be any better in any other technology’.”

Rewind’s in-house philosophy makes a clear delineation between story telling – linear narrative, often delivered via 360 video – and story living – immersive experiences delivered via devices like Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE, where the user chooses their own path through the world and the creator’s job is to make sure that a) there’s somewhere for them to go and b) it can be rendered quickly enough when they get there.

Know your technology

Another challenge posed by VR, and often not realised by clients, was the cost of post-production. Not only is there a lot more footage to process, as rigs can run up to dozens of cameras, but as Mike pointed out, “A lot of people don’t think about the cost of painting things out of shot [when shooting 360]”. In Richard’s experience, “VR is rarely longer than 20 to 30 minutes, but the time you spend in post is far in excess of what you’d spend on a 60 minute TV show.”

The challenges aren’t limited to post-production, however. Different cameras will have fractionally different start times and colour differences that need to be compensated for; different brands have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to stitching several shots together to make a single VR space, and lengthy testing is needed to find out whether, for example, your actors can walk across one of these stitch lines without their face warping, or if you need to set up very specific marks and limits.

There’s also the fact that stitching the individual camera outputs together to make the final shot can take several days, so a director used to seeing instant playback will have to deal with long delays before they know whether they have the shot they want. (This can be sidestepped by strapping a handful of secondary cameras on top of your rig to give them a very rough onset stitch, according to Oliver.)

Devices and delivery

Richard predicts that over the next few generations, the hardware market for VR – which is currently very segmented – will coalesce, allowing for content to be delivered to multiple devices, or be optimised for one platform “so it’ll be like delivering for PlayStation or Xbox” rather than the current system, in which you need to know your target device and its limitations before you begin pre-production.

Oliver’s hopes for the future include “a target baseline level of controls – your HMD should include some sort of haptic feedback, it should have positional tracking, and you should make sure that you can meet a minimum level of experience, especially for interactive content.”

Is it worth it?

While Mike and the rest of the panel were aware that we hadn’t found “the ‘must-have’ content for home VR, like the Queen’s coronation was for television”, they were adamant that tackling the challenges of VR was worthwhile, and that rather than “3D, which got in the way of TV, which people were already comfortable with”, it offered a unique experience for the viewer that was distinct from any other media they have access to. “People are moved by VR in a way that they’re not by TV,” Kevin told us. “It’s something quite special.”

Here’s the full panel, for anyone interested:

Want to know more about how we can help you incorporate VR? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Your virtual reality content kit list

Your virtual reality content kit list

If you want to get students creating virtual reality content of their own, you’re going to need to get your hands on the right hardware. As well as the very chic headsets you’ll have seen demos of, you’re also going to need a workstation and a VR-ready graphics card. Here’s what we recommend.

HTC Vive

HTC Vive is our favourite of the recent crop of headsets. It’s designed for ‘room scale’ VR, in which each participant interacts with objects, characters and environments in a limited space (so ideal if you’re converting a broom cupboard in your media department into a VR space).

Each player is equipped with a wireless sensor that boasts 24 sensors and SteamVR tracking technology, which combine to give realtime feedback on a player’s location within the room, enabling more realistic interactions and unobstructed movement. To counteract participants’ tendency to wander into walls while immersed in VR, the Vive has a built-in guidance system called Chaperone. If you double tap a menu button, or are about to hit a real-world obstacle, Chaperone drops an overlay of the real world onto your VR environment, so you can veer away from any walls, furnishings or people you don’t want to collide with.

Bear in mind, though, that having the headset alone is not enough – you need to opt for a kit that includes base stations, link boxes and face cushions to ensure that you’re ready to go. HTC are offering a Business Edition of the Vive that combines all of these, and adds in a commercial use licence should you want to put your Vive to work recouping its own cost.

HP workstations

Rich media work is always demanding on your hardware, and creating and powering virtual reality content is no exception.

If you’re already using Avid-approved HP workstations for video editing, animation, or VFX-related courses, the top end of these will be suitable for virtual reality work, too – we recommend an HP Z840, as these workstations are not only powerful in and of themselves, but allow plenty of room for expansion should you want to increase your capabilities in the future.

As well as the towers themselves, we offer accessories, warranties, storage and infrastructure solutions, so can help you update an existing media lab, install a new one, or add additional machines on their own network so that working with VR content doesn’t slow things down for anyone else.

One thing that you need to bear in mind, whether you’re buying new workstations or updating existing ones, is that you’re going to swap out your standard graphics card for a 3D-ready one.

A 3D-ready graphics card

NVIDIA/PNY have already got two cards ready for you: the 16GB P5000 and 24GB P6000, both of which should work with your HP workstations. These cards harness NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU technology, and offer enormous memory capacity so that you can work with ever-larger data sets and more complex visuals.

If you’d like a hand putting your 3D workstations together, you can get in touch with our team on the details below, or come along to our virtual reality event on 8th February to see how industry professionals are using VR in their new projects (you can register for that here).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The lowdown on NVIDIA Pascal GPU Architecture

The lowdown on NVIDIA Pascal GPU Architecture

Purpose-built as the engine of computers that ‘learn, see, and simulate our world’, NVIDIA are touting Pascal GPU Architecture as innovative at every level.

When NVIDIA say Pascal Architecture is designed for ‘deep learning’ (an actual computer term, not to be confused with a 2am Wikipedia binge), as you’d probably imagine, it all gets fairly technical. That’s why we decided to run down everything you need to know about NVIDIA’s futuristic GPU.

NVIDIA have been vocal about Pascal’s five tech breakthroughs that, in their own words, “enable a new computing platform that’s disrupting conventional thinking from the desk-side to the data centre.” So what are they?

16-nanometer FinFET

Breakthrough number one makes for unparalleled energy efficiency, utilising 150 billion transistors built on ‘bleeding-edge’ FinFET fabrication technology. FinFET is a type of 3D transistor that’s used in the design of contemporary processors. Pascal GPU is the biggest FinFET chipset ever built, and it’s designed to deliver super fast performance for even the most demanding workflows.

Best performance

As the most powerful compute architecture ever built inside a GPU, Pascal delivers over five TeraFLOPS of double precision performance for HPC (high performance computing) workloads. That means it’s really quick at computer-intensive jobs that require large data sets. It also reduces training time from weeks to hours thanks to a vastly improved (12x to be exact) neural network training, as well as a 7x increase in deep learning throughput.

NVIDIA NVLink

Provide maximum application scalability, Pascal is NVIDIA’s first architecture that’s integrated with their revolutionary NVLink high-speed bidirectional interconnect. It’s a high-bandwidth, energy-efficient interconnect that allows breakneck communication between CPU and GPU, and between GPUs.

CoWoS with HBM2

Pascal Architecture uses a fresh approach to memory design called CoWos (Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate), which is complimented by HBM2 (second generation High Bandwidth Memory). It provides a 3x boost in memory bandwidth performance.

All-new AI algorithms

NVIDIA say that new half-precision, 16-bit floating point instructions provide 21 TeraFLOPS of unprecedented training performance. Pascal even comes with realtime responsiveness for deep learning, thanks to its 47 TOPS (tera-operations per second) and 8-bit integer instructions.

Pascal-powered graphics cards

According to NVIDIA, the Quadro P series of graphics cards are the worlds most powerful, allowing for work with larger models, complex visual effects and simulations, larger rendering tasks, and more life-like VR experiences. Keeping up the big talk, the P6000 is being called the most advanced pro graphics solution ever created.

NVIDIA Quadro P5000

– 16 GB GDDR5X.

– 256-bit.

– Up to 288 GBp/s memory bandwidth.

– 2560 NVIDIA CUDA cores.

– PCI Express 3.0 x16.

– 180W max power consumption.

– Active thermal solution.

– 112mm × 267mm, dual slot, full height form factor.

– Display connectors: 4x DP 1.4 + DVI-D DL.

– Max simultaneous displays: 4 direct, 4 DP 1.4 multi-stream.

– Max DP 1.4 resolution: 7680 x 4320 at 30 Hz.

– Max DVI-D DL resolution: 2560 × 1600 at 60 Hz.

– Graphics APIs: Shader Model 5.1, OpenGL 4.54 , DirectX 12.05, Vulkan 1.04.

– Compute APIs: CUDA, DirectCompute, OpenCL.

NVIDIA Quadro P6000

– 24 GB GDDR5X.

– 384-bit.

– Up to 432 GBp/s memory bandwidth.

– 3840 NVIDIA CUDA cores.

– PCI Express 3.0 x16.

– 250W max power consumption.

– Active thermal solution.

– 112mm × 267mm, dual slot, full height form factor.

-Display connectors: 4x DP 1.4 + DVI-D DL.

– Max simultaneous displays: 4 direct, 4 DP 1.4 multi-stream.

– Max DP 1.4 resolution: 7680 x 4320 at 30 Hz.

– Max DVI-D DL resolution: 2560 × 1600 at 60 Hz.

– Graphics APIs: Shader Model 5.1, OpenGL 4.54 , DirectX 12.05, Vulkan 1.04.

– Compute APIs: CUDA, DirectCompute, OpenCL.

For more information on NVIDIA Pascal GPU architecture, give us a call on 03332 409 306, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

For creatives relying on the magic of Illustrator CC’s vector graphics, you’re about to find the creative workflow a far smoother experience. Thanks to graphics processing giants NVIDIA, Illustrator is able to take advantage of GPU-acceleration for the first time. The technology to applaud for getting your GPU out of it’s armchair is NV Path.

NV Path is an extension of OpenGL, and the result of work between NVIDIA and Adobe. NV Path offloads path rendering onto the GPU, leading to increased fluidity when zooming and panning around your resolution-independent creations.

Previously, Illustrator performance was served up entirely by the CPU, often leading to stuttering, spluttering and an interrupted creative process. Unlike their 3D cousins, 2D artists haven’t had access to the GPU until now. When Illustrator CC is able to perform 10 times faster, you’ll wonder how you got by.

While all this sounds like a technical marvel (and it is!), Illustrator CC’s central mission is to get your imagination onto the screen and beyond with the least resistance. News of this stutter-killing advancement will delight 2D artists, whose creative impulses won’t be held back by an overworked CPU.

For users with the winning combination of Creative Cloud and an NVIDIA GPU, NV Path enabled Illustrator CC is available now.

For more information, call 03332 409 306 or email on at adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Are you using the right hardware for your Autodesk software?

Are you using the right hardware for your Autodesk software?

Whether you’re sculpting in Mudbox, animating characters in Maya, whipping up pre-visualisations in 3ds Max or drafting like billy-o in AutoCAD LT, some of the basics of what makes a good Autodesk workstation stay the same (stock up on RAM and pack in as many cores as possible), but with so many different software suites and qualified components out there, it can be difficult to work out which workstation is best for you. To help make things easier, here are our top tips for choosing Mac and PC workstations for your Autodesk software of choice… 

For AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT for Mac users

We have good news: virtually any Mac will run AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, from the beefiest of Mac Pros (ideal for handling big models quickly) to the smallest Mac mini (great for setting up freelancers with temporary desks, or if you want to take your setup with you to meet a client, as it’ll plug into any keyboard and display).

We know that a lot of users are sticking to their ageing Mac Pros in order to keep using NVIDIA Quadro 4000 or Quadro K5000 cards due to their higher fidelity, but the latest models have a huge amount to offer. With powerful 12-core CPUs on offer, the latest Mac Pro can help you create and navigate simulations far faster. The fact that the usual lumbering hard drive has been replaced by a fast, agile SSD means you’ll also be able to work with huge models far more efficiently.

If you’re really itching to customise your workstation, we’ll say it again: you can never have enough RAM. Get in touch with our team to find out how easy it is to pack your Mac with some extra memory.

For 3ds Max users

Autodesk 3ds Max 2014

If you’re working in a field like games development, odds are you’re using 3ds Max or a 3ds Max-based Entertainment Creation Suite (if you’re not, you might want to drop us a line…). You’ll want plenty of processing power, so we’d recommend opting for a 16-core HP Z820 for maximum responsiveness, although a high-spec Z620 will do the trick if you’re budget-conscious. While the new Mac Pros look promising, we’re still waiting for Autodesk to qualify a configuration, so if you need an interim Mac workstation go for a 27” Quad-core i7 3.4Ghz iMac with at least 8GB of RAM – preferably more.

If you invested in iMac before the latest Mac Pro was announced and are wincing at the cost of replacing them, remember that you can use the iMac screen as a second display and harness the internals as part of your rendering setup, meaning that artists can continue working on their Mac Pro while their iMac takes care of rendering work, rather than sitting and watching the progress bar.

When it comes to graphics, you need to bear in mind that Autodesk recently rewrote 3ds Max’s viewport engine, moving it over to DirectX from OpenGL. This means you’ll get faster performance for your money using gaming cards than you will using traditionally professional cards – which is great news for your wallet, and means you can design your work on the same card your end user will be playing it on.

One good choice for working with Autodesk software is NVIDIA’s 6GB GeForce GTX Titan, as it has the kind of stamina you usually only see in pro cards and so is least likely to melt under constant use. However, it’s not qualified yet and is also pretty expensive, so you might want to opt for Autodesk’s qualified card, the lower-spec 4GB GeForce GTX 680, which delivers a surprising amount of power for such an affordable card.

For Maya and Mudbox

For areas like graphics or post-production work, we’d typically recommend Autodesk Maya or a Maya-centric Entertainment Creation Suite (Autodesk’s Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate gets you Maya, 3ds Max, Motionbuilder, Mudbox, Softimage and Sketchbook Designer, so it’s a good option if you want to make sure you’re covered for every eventuality). The main difference between Maya and an application like 3ds Max is that you really need a NVIDIA Quadro card to get the best possible graphics performance. The Quadro drivers are optimised for Maya, and going for something like the ultra-powerful Quadro K5000 or the K2000 if you’re kitting out an assist station will give you the smoothest, most accurate viewport performance.

While we’re still waiting to hear how Autodesk plan to handle the dual GPU potential of the 2013 Mac Pro, if you need a Mac in an interim then your only real option is the top spec 3.4GHz i7 iMac, with 8 or 16GB of RAM depending on the size of project you think you’ll need to handle (this can always be repurposed as a combined second display and a render node if you decide to upgrade to a Mac Pro further down the line). For PC workstations, we’d recommend going no lower than an HP Z620 (ideally a Z820) with as many cores and as much RAM as you can pack in, as both will help you complete projects in the fastest possible time.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email Autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000 GPU unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2013

NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000 GPU unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2013

NVIDIA have once again proceeded to steal everyone’s thunder at SIGGRAPH 2013 by releasing the Quadro K6000 GPU, apparently “the fastest and most capable GPU ever built”, as well as a new line of GPUs designed specifically for mobile workstations. Read on for the full press release, or take a look at the official NVIDIA Quadro K6000 spec sheet

ANAHEIM, Calif.— SIGGRAPH — July 23, 2013— NVIDIA today unveiled the visual computing industry’s new flagship technology – the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPU, the fastest and most capable GPU ever built.

NVIDIA today also launched a new line of professional graphics GPUs for mobile workstations, delivering the highest levels of performance and graphics memory ever available on mobile platforms.

The Quadro K6000 GPU delivers five-times higher compute performance and nearly double the graphics capability of its predecessor, the NVIDIA Quadro 6000 GPU, and features the world’s largest and fastest graphics memory.

Combining breakthrough performance and advanced capabilities in a power-efficient design, the Quadro K6000 GPU enables leading organisations such as Pixar, Nissan, Apache Corporation and the Weather Channel’s WSI division to tackle visualisation and analysis workloads of unprecedented size and scope.

Animation and Visual Effects – Pixar

“The Kepler features are key to our next generation of real-time lighting and geometry handling. We were thrilled to get an early look at the K6000. The added memory and other features allow our artists to see much more of the final scene in a real-time, interactive form, and allow many more artistic iterations.” – Guido Quaroni, Pixar vice president of Software R&D

Product Styling – Nissan

“With Quadro K6000’s 12 GB of memory, I am now able to load nearly complete vehicle models into RTT Deltagen and have stunning photorealism almost instantly. Instead of spending significant time simplifying the models to fit into previous hardware, we can now spend more time reviewing and iterating designs up front which helps avoid costly changes to tooling.” – Dennis Malone, associate engineer, Nissan North America

Energy Exploration – Apache

“Compared to the Quadro K5000, the Quadro K6000 tripled the performance when running jobs on Terraspark’s InsightEarth application. With jobs running in mere minutes, we can run more simulations and get better insight into where to drill. In this business, drilling in the wrong place is a multi-million dollar mistake, and the Quadro K6000 gives us the edge to make better decisions.” – Klaas Koster, manager, seismic interpretation, Apache Corporation

Unprecedented Performance

The Quadro K6000 GPU is based on the NVIDIA Kepler™ architecture – the world’s fastest, most efficient GPU architecture. Key performance features and capabilities include:

– 12GB ultra-fast GDDR5 graphics memory lets designers and animators model and render characters and scenes at unprecedented scale, complexity and richness

– 2,880 streaming multiprocessor (SMX) cores deliver faster visualisation and compute horsepower than previous-generation products

– Supports four simultaneous displays and up to 4k resolution with DisplayPort™ 1.2

– Ultra-low latency video I/O and support for large-scale visualisations

“The NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPU is the highest performance, most capable GPU ever created for the professional graphics market,” said Ed Ellett, senior vice president, Professional Solutions Group at NVIDIA. “It will significantly change the game for animators, digital designers and engineers, enabling them to make the impossible possible.”

New Mobile Workstation GPUs

NVIDIA today also revealed a new flagship professional graphics GPU for workstation notebooks, the NVIDIA Quadro K5100M GPU. Delivering the highest levels of performance and graphics memory available on notebook platforms, the Quadro K5100M anchors a new line of workstation notebook graphics that includes the Quadro K4100M, K3100M, K2100M, K1100M, K610M, and K510M GPUs.

Quadro GPUs are designed, built and tested by NVIDIA to provide the superb reliability, compatibility and dependability that professionals require.  They are certified and recommended by more than 150 leading software application providers worldwide.

Availability

The NVIDIA Quadro K6000 will be available beginning this fall from HP, Dell, Lenovo and other  major workstation providers; from systems integrators, including BOXX Technologies and Supermicro; and from authorised distribution partners, including PNY Technologies in North America and Europe, ELSA and Ryoyo in Japan, and Leadtek in Asia Pacific.

The new Quadro mobile workstation graphics product line will also be available beginning this fall from major mobile workstation OEMs.

Want to know more about the latest from NVIDIA? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Jigsaw24 Benchmarks: NVIDIA’s Quadro K5000 vs Quadro 4000

Jigsaw24 Benchmarks: NVIDIA’s Quadro K5000 vs Quadro 4000

Now that the Quadro K5000 for Mac has finally shipped, we wanted put it through its paces. Our friends at NVIDIA kindly agreed to lend us one to test, so we broke out our Mac Pro, upgraded it to OS X 10.8.3 to get the latest GPU drivers (you’ll need to do this too if you want to use the card) and cracked on.

The test

We decided to test the K5000 against the Quadro 4000, as these two cards represent the only professional grade NVIDIA GPUs available for the Mac Pro, so we thought it would be a nice illustration of how the GPU power available to the Mac Pro has progressed. We were hoping that the K5000 would be faster across the board, as on paper it’s a far more powerful card.

We chose a range of tests designed to represent a cross-section of the GPU-centric media and entertainment workflows the K5000 has the potential to accelerate. All of our benchmarks were run on a clean copy of OS X 10.8.3 and repeated three times – we’re quoting the average score below.

Davinci Resolve 9

Firstly we tested Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 9.1.1. Resolve is a colour grading application that makes heavy use of CUDA acceleration for both transcoding and colour grading.  Our (relatively simple) test involved transcoding a 2K DPX sequence into a 1920 x 1080 ProRes 422 Proxy file. So as not to cause a bottleneck that would skew the cards’ performance downward, the files were read/written to very fast storage.

Here the Quadro 4000 averaged 37fps transcoding speed and the K5000 averaged 53fps, which means that the K5000 offers roughly 40% more performance than the Quadro 4000 for this workflow. As almost all of Resolve is CUDA accelerated, this performance gain should translate to an overall increase in speed across DaVinci Resolve.

Adobe After Effects CS6

The next test used Adobe After Effects CS6. AE CS6 includes a new ray traced render engine, which is fully CUDA accelerated. This render engine allows very realistic rendering of things like shadows, reflections and glossy materials, and we planned to time how long it took each card to render a test scene setup.

The K5000 managed the render in 10 minutes and 5 seconds with the Quadro 4000 clocking 18 minutes and 3 seconds, making the K5000 almost twice as fast as the Quadro 4000 – again, a great upgrade for this workflow.

OpenGL benchmarks

Finally we wanted to gauge the general OpenGL performance of the cards to get an idea of how they would perform in 3D Applications such as Maxon CINEMA 4D and Autodesk Maya.

We used a benchmark called FurMark, which tests a card’s ability to draw complex 3D images on to the screen. Higher performance in this benchmark indicates that the card will be able to handle more complex geometry inside the viewport in apps like Maya or C4D, meaning a smoother editing experience with complex scenes.

The Quadro 4000 managed 24 frames per second and the K5000 managed 54 FPS. (To give some perspective we also ran this test on the Radeon 5770 that shipped with our Mac Pro and it scored 31 FPS.) Again, this indicates that the K5000 is over twice as powerful as the Quadro 4000 when it comes to manipulating geometry in the viewport of a 3D application.

The conclusion

Much as we love it, the Quadro 4000 is getting a little long in the tooth and the K5000 looks to be a solid upgrade performance-wise. The Quadro K5000 is in fact the most powerful officially supported CUDA GPU available for a Mac Pro – and as CUDA will not run on the Radeon cards that most Mac Pros ship with, it’s an essential upgrade for anyone who needs CUDA acceleration in their application.

The K5000 also offers significantly better OpenGL performance than the Radeon cards that ship with Mac Pros as standard, so is a solid upgrade for anyone doing complex 3D modelling or animation.

Buy your NVIDIA K5000 for Mac now

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

NVIDIA’s Tesla K20 and Quadro K5000 to power Maximus 2.0

NVIDIA’s Tesla K20 and Quadro K5000 to power Maximus 2.0

NVIDIA have announced that the second generation of their innovative Maximus platform will be up and running in December. Powered by NVIDIA’s new Kepler-based GPUs, the Quadro K5000 and the Tesla K20, Maximus promises faster, better graphics performance for anyone from mograph artists to prospective oil barons.

How does Maximus work?

Maximus technology allows a Tesla and Quadro card to work in parallel to crunch numbers and simulate or render graphics at the same time, reducing the workload of both the cards and your CPU and resulting in faster graphics performance.

The new GPUs

Over to Jigsaw24 3D consultant and resident Maximus expert, Ben Kitching, to explain why we should be getting excited about the Tesla K20 and the Quadro K5000. “The new Kepler-based cards have up  to 3000+ CUDA cores – that’s six times as many as the previous high-end cards like the Quadro 6000 and Tesla C2075. The new cards also have SMX and dynamic parallelism, two new technologies that allow them to make more efficient use of those cores,” he explains.

“On top of this, there is the pioneering  GPU virtualisation, which brings the long awaited dream of remote working to those needing to use high performace apps like Autodesk Maya or the Adobe suites. Imagine being able to remote into your high performance workstation from a MacBook Air and access your production data at full speed and quality as if you were sat in front of it.”

Other key features of the Quadro K5000 include:

  • ‪Bindless Textures that give users the ability to reference over 1 million textures directly in memory while reducing CPU overhead.
  • ‪FXAA/TXAA film-style anti-aliasing technologies for outstanding image quality.
  • ‪Increased frame buffer capacity of 4GB, plus a next-generation PCIe-3 bus interconnect that accelerates data movement by 2x compared with PCIe-2.
  • ‪An all-new display engine capable of driving up to four displays simultaneously with a single K5000.
  • ‪Display Port 1.2 support for resolutions up to 3840×2160 at 60Hz.

The Tesla K20 is no slouch either, adding SMX streaming technology that promises to deliver up to three times as much performance per watt, dynamic parallelism and Hyper-Q technology (we should probably point out that all these stats came from NVIDIA, and we haven’t been able to verify them independently).

When can I have one?

The Quadro K5000 will be available as a standalone desktop GPU from October (we’re trying to wrangle a demo unit before then, so keep your eyes peeled for benchmarks). The Tesla K20 and qualified Maximus-capable workstations are set to follow in December.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24VIdeo on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page. Visit our website at Jigsaw24.com.

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

We recently managed to get our hands on a couple of pairs of these glasses and the associated hardware to use in our demonstrations at BVE. Having wanted to see them for quite some time, I was excited about seeing them in action.

Seeing an image in 3D on the screen requires each one of your eyes to see a slightly different image, there are several different ways to achieve this. Most systems use passive glasses; these take the form of either the coloured anaglyph glasses (which require no special display technology) or clear polarised glasses (requiring a matching polarised display).

Regardless of the technology used, the theory is the same: the glasses and display work together to ensure that your left eye only sees the left image and your right eye only sees the right image. Your brain does the rest, fusing these two separate images into a 3D picture.

The NVIDIA glasses work on the same theory but achieve it in a slightly different way. They are based on active technology and are powered by a small battery. The glasses work wirelessly, although they are charged over USB. Each lens of the glasses contains a liquid crystal display similar to those used in old calculators and this display changes the lens from black to clear at a rate of 60 HZ (60 times a second). While this is happening, the display flicks from the left image to the right image at a rate of 120 HZ. This is synced with the glasses via an infra red emitter to ensure that when the left image is being shown the right eye is blanked out and vice versa.

To make all of this work, you will need the following equipment:

  • The NVIDIA 3D Vision starter kit, containing a pair of glasses and the infra red sync emitter.
  • A compatible NVIDIA graphics card with a DIN connector for the sync emitter. A Quadro is needed for pro applications such as Maya. A Geforce is needed for Games.
  • A display that is capable of displaying an image at 120HZ – the Samsung SyncMaster range is a good place to start.
  • Software that is capable of using active stereo. In games, this is taken care of by the Nvidia driver. With regard to pro apps, any app that supports Quad Buffered OpenGL will work.

So, enough of the technical stuff – what are these glasses like to use? I was lucky enough to test them extensively, using them both for gaming and within Autodesk’s Maya. I was very impressed with them, I had expected to see some flickering of the picture as it switched from the left to right images but, with each eye being displayed at nearly 3 times the frame rate required for smooth viewing, the picture was extremely smooth. The glasses do make the screen appear a little dimmer but this can be fixed easily by turning up the brightness a little.

The experience of getting the glasses to work with my professional applications was a smooth one also, and just required enabling stereoscopic support in the NVIDIA control panel. It is even possible to display 3D output from two different programs at the same time.

In summary, these glasses are ideal if you want to preview and edit stereoscopic content in programs like Maya, or view stereoscopic movies. Imagine being able to show your 3D film or game in full colour progressive 3D, or showing off your product or building designs to clients in full 3D. With most major modelling packages including 3ds Max Design, Maya, CINEMA 4D and others at least able to create stereoscopic content even if you can’t directly edit in 3D, these glasses offer a great way to show your work in an immersive way. Content can be exported from this software and played back using Nvidias stereoscopic player and you can even use them for a bit of gaming after work!

If you’re not sure about the best way to create or view stereoscopic content, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.