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nVidia set to seal its lock on the workstation market

Learning to ‘follow the money' is one of life's most important lessons. It helps answer so many questions – in every walk of life. Sure sex and drugs and rock-n-roll plus the need for weapons and violence figure into the equation, but the money trail is crucial. For graphics, that means “How will future generations of gaming chip be funded?”  Over at Distree 2013, KitGuru operatives recently caught up with the man leading the professional solutions drive for the UK, Middle East and Africa for Quadro.

Before landing at nVidia's professional solutions partner, PNY, Peter Butler worked his way through a lot of the industry's top tech brands – including Microsoft, Elonex and Asus.

Peter explained that the only real decision faced by customers looking for professional solutions in 2013 is whether to pick a solution created by one of the multi nationals – or to choose a local vendor.

It seems that nVidia maintains direct contact with HP and Dell, while PNY takes care of the Quadro, Tesla etc sales into systems sold by specialists like Armari. Our man was told, “Quadro has the vast majority of the workstation market these days”.

“It's not just pure graphics”, said Peter. “Products like Tesla don't really have any competition in the market”.

There's a famous story of how a journalist working for one of the UK's top design magazines was asked ‘How should you choose the best workstation card for a given application?' and started his response with “Well, the number of Cuda cores is going to be vital”.

While Radeons might vie for parity in the desktop graphics space and it looks like a clean sweep for APU into the next generation consoles, the workstation area seems saturated with a specific shade of green.

But nVidia is far from resting on its laurels.

During the unveiling of its 7 billion transistor mega chip, nVidia's CEO Jen Hsun Huang was quoted as saying “The GK110 is the most complex IC commercially available on planet”.

The k6000 workstation product variant is expected to launch this month, but when asked about details, PNY's Peter just smiled – refusing to be drawn. We'll read into that steely confidence that it's gonna be a killer product.

Yet the power being delivered by these products is still only the tip of the titanic iceberg that nVidia is floating into the market over the next four years. The Maxwell architecture should begin to make an appearance around the end of 2014, once the new 20nm process has been proven. From there, the drive to creating an ExaScale system inside 4 years is on.  128GB graphic cards anyone?

While AMD is approaching the supercomputer market with SeaMicro 'bricks', nVidia is looking to pour a few thousand tons of concrete on the problem of 'slamdunk technology for next generation mega machines'. PNY's Peter Butler is a very happy chappy.


KitGuru says: While AMD might have the lead in certain professional applications, like password checking, overall the connection nVidia seems to have with Hollywood and the major design houses will be hard to break. And all of that phat profit margin will be funding serious, on-going graphics research and development. What's the Radeon reply? How will AMD fund the 9000 and 10000 series high end products?

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