Second Day Wrap-Up of GPU Tech Conference

by Kevin Krewell

Today’s GPU Technology Conference keynote was from Harvard University’s Hanspeter Pfister and it was quite enlightening.

Hanspeter Pfister giving the GTC 2009 Keynote

Pfister showed the packed room how GPU Compute is opening new doors (see the video of people after the keynote). Researchers are working to crack many important science and health challenges, and the GPU’s power, space and cost efficient FLOPS are offering them whole new opportunities.

He argued that research goals would be compromised without GPU Compute. He showed how GPUs are enabling the field of radio astronomy, where the Murchison Wide-Field Array (MWA) project is using GPU Compute to process 20TFLOP of antennae correlation within a power envelope of 20kW.

The MWA looks back in time to the formation of the universe by looking for stars with extreme hydrogen atom red shift. Using radio interferometry, it correlates data from an array of 512 antennae on a 1km2 site, located far from electromagnetic noise of civilization, deep in the Western Australia outback. The location is so remote that the antennae’s local correlation supercomputer needs to run by diesel generator. Only with GPU Compute can it run the 20TFLOP process in under 20kW.

After Pfister’s keynote, the conference split up into its various major threads, with emphasis on developing new businesses based on the GPU, on new research based on GPU Compute and on more traditional GPU application development. Some of the image processing sessions were a strong audience draw, but most others were, as well. The biggest challenge was deciding which session to attend with so many great choices.

As the developers were engrossed in image processing, various VCs, bankers and GPU ecosystem entrepreneurs were sharing the stage at the Emerging Company Summit. The more than 60 startups there are turning ideas into businesses that will drive the new technologies into the market. A few of those companies were highlighted in the keynote address by Jeff Herbst, NVIDIA’s VP of Business Development. Blogger Chris Kraeuter captured some of those highlights on the GTC blog.

Today, the conference got down to work, improving science, building new business, and educating developers.