by Hector Marinez

The two-day GTC Asia event in Beijing kicked off today, with over 1,500 attendees streaming into the China National Convention Center to catch a glimpse of NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang deliver a keynote on the state of the union of supercomputing.

He told the gathering of scientists, researchers, company execs and government officials that the $4.5 billion global supercomputing industry is in the midst of a dramatic technological makeover. GPU computing is steadily opening up paths previously plagued by cost and efficiency issues.

Huang led the audience through a series of demos showcasing applications and industries changed by the GPU. Among those he focused on were human genome sequencing, simulation of the H1N1 virus,  how metals cool, and video games and films. He argued that the very same disruptive action will also take place within the supercomputing industry.

In one of the more dramatic moments of the keynote, Huang showed a demo, courtesy of Ubisoft, depicting what video games would look like at the close of the current decade. The Assassin’s Creed demo was a thrilling action scene and drew a round of applause, as Huang noted that the GPU is serving as the engine of 21st century computing.

Following Huang’s keynote, Xiang-Fei Meng, minister of application development at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, took the stage. He used the platform as an opportunity to highlight work being done on the world’s second-fastest supercomputer, Tianhe 1A, including genome analysis, animation, financial modeling, weather and climate forecasting, petroleum exploration, animation and bio-medical research.

For those not able to catch the live keynote, it will be available off of NVIDIA’s GTC Asia web site:  www.gputechconf.cn or www.gputechconf.cn/page/home-en.html.

Other Day 1 highlights included:

One of the research papers on display at
GTC Asia 2011

Tucked away, in the lower level of the convention center, was the research poster area.  This was a popular post-lunch haven for attendees who attentively read and digested findings from over 40 research posters, describing ongoing GPU-enabled research. Poster submissions represented the world, and touched on many areas, ranging from black holes to x-ray imaging.

One of the day’s most popular sessions was the Emerging Companies Summit, where attendees were presented with a variety of tools to help take advantage of the growing GPU ecosystem. Execs from companies headling the event – such as Ubitus, which leverages advanced GPU/CUDA techniques for speeding up game graphics rendering and video encoding; Accelerware, which produces software that enables software vendors to utilize parallel processing and multi-core hardware environments without having to modify their applications; and MirriAd, which focuses on digital product placement —  were asked questions by panelists from NVIDIA, IDC Asia and Peddie Research.

GTC Asia wraps up tomorrow with such industry heavyweights as Steve Scott, of NVIDIA; Anthony Lichnewsky, of Schlumberger; and Subodh Kumar of ITT Dehli.