by Brian Burke

Windows 7 is a great operating system that is exactly what the PC industry needs. But two areas where Windows 7 will make a large impact really get our juices flowing – GPU computing and power gaming.
GPU computing uses the massively parallel architecture of the graphics processing unit (GPU) as a computational engine that can be programmed with high-level languages and APIs. Microsoft DirectCompute is a new API in Windows 7 that uses the GPU to accelerate applications..

DirectCompute gives software developers the ability to create both powerful new digital-media applications and next-generation PC games by harnessing the power of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. DirectCompute is initially being introduced as part of the Microsoft DirectX 11 API, but works on both NVIDIA’s DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 GPUs.

We’ve already seen some applications come to market that take advantage of the GPU, and they have shown dramatic improvements in speed compared to CPU-only performance.  Elemental Technologies Badaboom media converter, Motion DSP’svReveal image stabilizer and CyberLink’s video applications are all prime examples.  DirectCompute will make it even easier for developers to write applications that turbo-charge digital media applications.  We believe DirectCompute will take GPU computing into the mainstream and make the benefits available to millions of users.

As for power gaming, DirectX 11 is going to make the PC gaming experience even better. At its core NVIDIA is about gaming, and we’re 100 percent behind DirectX 11. Here are some of the ways that DirectX 11 is going benefit power gaming.

• GPU tessellation – Tessellation allows the GPU to draw far-away models in low detail and close-up models in high detail while maintaining performance. The end result is an optimally tessellated mesh for each view distance.
• Multi-threading – By spreading the CPU load over multiple cores, developers can remove CPU bottlenecks and take advantage of GPU horsepower for graphics and effects. Developers can use multi-threading to immediately improve performance in their games.
• Improved texture compression – DirectX 11 adds two new texture-compression formats: one for high-dynamic range (HDR) textures and the other for better visual quality on low dynamic range textures.
• Shader Model 5.0 – This improves programmability for developers by adding features like double precision and increased resources and subroutines.

Looking ahead, our next-generation Fermi-based GeForce GPU will support DirectX 11, along with technologies like NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision. Fermi is the first GPU designed from the ground up for compute, and it will also be the fastest graphics processor in the world when it ships. Together, Windows 7 and Fermi-based GPUs are set to deliver a new level of immersion and interactivity that will transform the gaming industry.