GPUs Revving Up to Obliterate the CPU
The computing functionality and horsepower of GPUs has grown over the last few years. So the role of the GPU is rapidly expanding to game tasks beyond rasterization-based graphics. Now GPU computing can be used for solving a variety of problems in game computing including game physics, artificial intelligence, animation, post-processing effects and others. Rev Lebaredian, Director of Engineering in Nvidia, says that as GPUs grow and become more general purpose, more and more of the game is going to be shifting over to the GPU. The final goal is to have the whole game run on the GPU. The Director of Engineering in Nvidia, Rev Lebaredian, says we are not able to depend on the same speed ups that we are getting year after year with traditional CPU architectures. So GPUs will obliterate the CPU.
Rev Lebaredian began his career at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), as a Network Engineer overseeing the implementation of Mosaic. He transitioned to high-end computer graphics at Warner Brothers Digital, as a Technical Director, and author of the cartoon renderer for "Marvin The Martian in 3-D". In the spring of 1996 he joined Dream Quest Images/Walt Disney to write the hair renderer 'Yeti' for the Academy Award ® nominated movie "Mighty Joe Young". After running his own software company, Steamboat Software, and consulting firm, Steam Engine, specializing in the creation of 3D rendering software for motion picture effects, he transitioned again to the graphics and digital media processors industry with NVIDIA. Today Rev eads a team of engineers developing APEX - a middleware library and tools for integrating realistic and scalable physics simulation into games.
Saltmarch Media spoke to Rev during his recent visit to Bangalore, India. We began the discussion with a topic close to Rev's heart – APEX. "APEX is trying to handover the power of game physics to the artists directly as they are the biggest section of employees in a game development company. By achieving this, an artist need not depend on a programmer to achieve every task and this in turn will enable the creation of a lot of creative content which the user of today has come to expect from games," says Rev.
This movement of trying to move game physics over to the GPU was enabled further by NVIDIA’s acquisition of AEGIA in 2008. He explains how the business models and motives of both organizations were perfectly aligned and how this helped in sealing the deal. The underlying intention behind this acquisition is to one day make the GPU capable of running an entire game by itself and that is what NIVIDIA engineers are working towards.
During the course of the interview he also discussed other technologies Nvidia is pioneering. For instance, there is the recently released Optimus Technology that automatically selects the right graphics processor for the job, choosing between an NVIDIA discrete GPU and an integrated GPU. This way the user does not have to go through the cumbersome process of manually switching between GPUs depending on the requirement. Rev talks about how innovation coupled with superior engineering drove Nvidia to come up with this technology.
Another area we touched upon was Nvidia’s association with DirectS 11 and how the technology will be a benchmark for future developers and consoles alike. Click here to watch the full interview.