NVIDIA Highlights Maxwell Support for Virtual Reality at First VR Industry Awards Ceremony  

by Sheryl Huynh

It’s time to ditch the cynicism and pick up a headset. Virtual reality is becoming real. And our new Maxwell GPU architecture is poised to help push virtual reality experiences to the next level.

NVIDIA’s David Coombes was there to show our support at the Virtual Reality Foundation’s inaugural Proto Awards, presented at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel Friday before a raucous crowd of more than 300 developers and virtual reality enthusiasts.

“NVIDIA has always been committed to the forefront of computer graphics,” said Coombes, a technology evangelist with our developer technology team. “We are incredibly excited to be here tonight to support the inaugural Proto Awards as we take these first steps together into a whole new world of magic, science and entertainment.”

Coombes gave out awards to developers who have built great virtual reality experiences.

Old school hotel, new school technology: the first annual Proto Awards were held at Hollywood's classic Roosevelt Hotel.
Old school hotel, new school technology: the first annual Proto Awards were held at Hollywood’s classic Roosevelt Hotel.

The winners included Synthesis Universe for best art direction, Darknet for best gameplay, and Zombies on the Holodeck in the category of Best Overall.

Each winner got a new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU, unveiled just the day before. The recipients were thrilled.

Built with NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture, the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 are built to unlock new virtual worlds.

Virtual reality requires enormous visual computing power and Maxwell has been tuned to deliver it with a technology called VR Direct.

VR Direct incorporates a number of new features to increase performance, lower latency and increase compatibility for virtual reality headsets. (For more, see “Maxwell and DirectX 12 Delivered.”) And all these capabilities can be turned on with a single click with GeForce Experience.

Survios’ Graham Matuszewski, winner of "Best Overall Experience" for Zombies on the Holodeck.
Survios’ Graham Matuszewski, winner of “Best Overall Experience” for Zombies on the Holodeck.

The new Maxwell-based GPUs are just two major examples of why virtual reality is having a breakout year, with startup Oculus becoming a poster-child for VR after it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in March.

Maybe the surest sign of the virtual reality community’s confidence: it’s not afraid to poke fun at itself.

Hosted by Thomas Middleditch, from HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” the show included a bit featuring a cynical character called “virtual boy,” who brought a bottle of whiskey on stage with him from the 1990s.

“He has seen this show before, and he wasn’t impressed,” the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reported.

Another way to look at it: some of virtual reality’s oldest promises are starting to be fulfilled.