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nVidia’s VP for CUDA and PhysX moves to AMD?

Word has reached KitGuru that Manju Hegde, nVidia’s VP for CUDA and PhysX, is moving to AMD. What can we infer from the situation, when Vidia’s own VPs seem to believe that Fusion is the Future?

The former professor of electrical engineering for Washington and Louisiana State Universities, founded Ageia in 2002 and has been as responsible as anyone for putting physics and GPGPU centre stage in the evolving graphics market.

As nVidia confirms, Hegde has been on a mission to improve game play and Jen Hsun Huang was so impressed with the physics guru’s talents that, after buying Ageia out, Hegde was given a critical role in leading the development and deployment not only of PhysX, but also CUDA.

Historically, nVidia was recognised as a great company to work for. Hegde has made a fortune and been given a senior position within the organisation, so why has he chosen to leave is the question we most want answered.

Having chosen to leave, why would Hegde choose AMD?

KitGuru has contacted nVidia for a formal comment on the loss of Hegde, but we have not received an official response yet (possibly, the senior execs are heading out to Taiwan for the massive push on GTX465/490 etc). If we hear back, then we will, of course, update you.

Does the loss of Hegde spell major issues for nVidia?   KitGuru thinks this is highly unlikely.

Inventor of the GPU, nVidia has pioneered many changes over the years and, like all companies, has had its share of ups and downs.  The most remarkable thing we’ve noticed about the charismatic Mr Huang is that no matter how late nVidia is with new products etc, the market hangs on his every word. And nVidia’s share of the GPU market is very strong, despite the 8.2% pick-up by AMD reported by Fudzilla yesterday, following the launch of the Radeon HD 5000 series and the delays to Fermi. In one of the toughest trading environments ever seen, nVidia even managed to increase its share of the notebook space slightly.

So how has nVidia managed to maintain sales in such circumstances?

They plug DEEP into the developer community. The astonishingly well-funded TWIMTBP programme has helped – and nVidia has similar support in place for PhysX and CUDA.

At the same time, AMD has found it consistently difficult to get the community to buy-in to some of its programmes. Notable project here was HDR with AA (high dynamic range rendering with anti-aliasing), where the technology existed in the graphics hardware a full generation ahead of nVidia’s cards, but (we hear) there was not enough resource to push all the triple-A games to use it.

Enter Hegde.

Manju Hegde is a visionary. No two ways about it. The creation of Ageia captured the hearts, minds and imaginations of an entire generation of gamers, designers and, most of all, tech journalists.

We remember the days when Havoc ruled the planet – nearly unopposed in the 3rd party physics engine market until Hegde’s upstart company exploded on the scene.

KitGuru also remembers nVidia’s Chief Scientist, David Kirk telling us that “Moving physics processing to the GPU is a natural progression enabled by the high programmability in today's GPUs,” and that “By combining expertise with Havok, nVidia has produced a fantastic solution for game developers that will lead to more compelling game-play and more realistic gaming experiences”… but that was before Intel bought Havoc.

KitGuru has always struggled to enthuse about the rolling rock/folding cloth demos – but millions became certain that physics was suddenly ‘cool’ and a ‘must have' technology. So much so that Intel reacted to nVidia buying Ageia, by purchasing Havoc. So that leaves Intel and nVidia with cool technologies (both of which claim to be ‘open’ ?).  Which brings us to the real trick.

The real trick is not to have a really cool technology. Nope. That's just for ego. The real trick is in getting the world's developer community to buy-in and use it.

Manju Hegde is nVidia's VP in charge of CUDA and PhysX

Manju Hegde is THE guru at doing just that. Operating a company that was sold for little more than £10m, Hegde got the whole world speaking his language.

Now he will be at AMD – presumably doing the same thing.

If the nVidia VP in charge of PhysX and CUDA has decided that the future is Fusion, then the battleground has been set for a monster battle to win over the leading developers.

Going forward, if Hegde succeeds, then KitGuru expects AMD to be able to deliver events like these.

KitGuru says: We have positioned our Inada D6 robotic massage chairs, ordered enough popcorn to feed a fanbois army and we’re donning a pair of (non-affiliated) 3D specs to watch this war unfurl in all its high-definition glory. But there is always the chance that we’re wrong and we stand to be corrected. Maybe Hegde will stay put, continue to help the world appreciates CUDA in all its glory and you’ve just spent 5 minutes reading idle speculation.  Maybe.  Just maybe.

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