Issue: Show Daily - Apr 22, 2004

Nvidia hits film rendering and HD broadcast markets

Nvidia, best known as the maker of high-end graphics processing boards, announced two new graphics cards, the Quadro FX 4000 and Quadro FX 4000 SDI, and a software render engine Gelato that catapults them head-on into the film and HD television productions markets.

Gelato is a film rendering engine designed by an impressive cast of software developers including Larry Gritz, formerly of Exluna, Daniel Wexler formerly at PDI, and Eric Enderton, formerly at ILM.

Beth Loughney, general manager of Nvidia's digital film group, says that after a comprehensive examination of the film production process from pre-visualization to film-out Nvidia decided to enter the film rendering area hard core and build a product that would take full advantage of the enormous capabilities of the Quatro FX series of cards, including the new 4000 graphics card.

The Nvidia FX 4000 features a true 128-bit floating point graphics pipeline with 12 bits of sub pixel precision, parallelized vertex engines, an on-chip vertex cache, a programmable 8-pixel pipeline, occlusion culling, lossless depth Z buffering, and color compression capabilities. The processor achieves up to 100 million lit and textured triangles per second and a 3.3GB-per-second fill rate. The card will sell for $2199 MSRP.

Gelato is optimized out-of-the-box for multithreading and scaleable to take advantage of Intel's PCI express. The software features accelerated scanline and ratraced rendering, global illumination, ambient occlusion, and support for the full range of geometric primitives, NURBS, bicubic and bilinear patches, polygon meshes, subdivision surfaces, points, curves and procedural geometry. Gelato renders 2 to 5 times faster than CPU-bound rendering software.

A new shading language written specifically to take advantage of the Quadro FX family enables layered shaders to be built. Current owners of the Quadro FX series can download a free evaluation copy of Gelato. Purchase price is $2750 per node. Plug-ins for Maya, Python binding, and others will be available in May. Gelato is already being tested at visual effects house Industrial Light and Magic.

Nvidia's Quadro FX 4000 SDI adds to its substantial graphics capabilities the additional technology of dual link HD SDI which allows the easy processing of 4:4:4 10-bit RGB uncompressed 1920 x 1080i. The card converts composited video and graphics to uncompressed 8-bit or 10-bit SDI and provides two channel output - either two fill channels or a fill and a key channel. There is full support of SMPTE HD and SD formats as well as analog or digital genlock. The board will be available for $5,999 in July.

Jeff Brown general manger of Nvidia workstation business says, "We've been blown away at the enthusiastic reception of the product here at NAB. Our vision is to deliver stunning graphics. By combining that with HD output we believe this technology is going to change the quality and content that people see in broadcast and film."