Nvidia releases non-graphics apps for GPUs

Nvidia reduces CPU workload with first GPU software powerpack

David Bayon
12 Aug 2008

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia today released a free pack of applications that make use of the GPU for non-graphical tasks.

The first GeForce Power Pack comprises applications designed to significantly reduce the workload on a PC's CPU by transferring it to the more efficient GPU.

Stanford University's Folding@home distributed-computing, protein-folding client is the most well-known of the applications in the pack. Also included is a trial version of Elemental Technologies' Badaboom video transcoder, which Nvidia claims can convert a video file up to 18 times faster on the GPU than via traditional CPU methods.

Utilising Nvidia's CUDA C-Programming technology, the applications are compatible with GeForce 8-Series cards and above. Such cards can feature up to 240 processing "cores", compared to the four in today's quad-core CPUs.

PhysX support

Nvidia has also released a collection of games, demos and mod packs, as well as new graphics drivers to bring PhysX functionality to GeForce 8-Series cards and above.

The full game, Warmonger, is joined by an Unreal Tournament 3 mod and three PhysX-enhanced game demos. Also included is an intriguing demo for the upcoming Nurien social networking service (right), which is built upon the Unreal 3 engine.

Nvidia acquired PhysX in February of this year, and claims PhysX allows the GPU to "handle 10-20 times more visual complexity than what's possible on today's traditional PC platforms".

The CUDA applications, game demos and PhysX mods are available to download here.

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