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Nvidia seeks 'PC soul' software

$5m could be yours

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Nvidia wants to give you between $0.5m to $5m (£0.36 to £3.6m), plus partner with you on marketing, development, distribution, and more. All you need to do is come up with great software that exploits the processing power of an Nvidia graphic processing unit (GPU).

On Tuesday, Nvidia announced its new GPU Ventures Program and GPU Venture Zone website to support its new market-building effort.

The GPU Ventures Program is "all about building the GPU ecosystem," Nvidia spokesperson Andrew Humber told The Reg.

Nvidia is in good company. GPUs and GPGPU (general-purpose computation on GPUs) are quite the rage these days, with developers and manufacturers working to accelerate media, scientific apps, games, and other apps that can benefit from a GPU's massively parallel computational pipelines.

Outspoken Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says "the soul of the PC is shifting quickly to the GPU."

GPGPU got a shot in the arm last December when the Khronos Group, an open-standards organization that focuses on developing APIs for dynamic media, released the OpenCL 1.0 specification, described as "the first open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming of modern processors."

In other words, for GPUs.

Nvidia has its own such set of proprietary APIs, which it calls CUDA, that accomplishes much the same GPU-exploitation as does OpenCL 1.0.

OpenCL 1.0, however, is rapidly becoming an industry standard, having been adopted by over two dozen companies and organizations, including AMD, Apple (which first introduced it), ARM, Freescale, IBM, Intel, and Texas Instruments, among others.

Nvidia's CUDA is, well, Nvidia's CUDA.

And so you might expect that Nvidia formed the GPU Ventures Program to support its own APIs. But if you thought that way, you'd be wrong, according to Nvidia's Andrew Humber.

Even though Nvidia's GPU Ventures Program website makes no mention of OpenCL, and even though it says, "We would like to hear about your use of CUDA GPU computing software," we were assured by Humber that the APIs used by companies wishing to compete for support "need not necessarily be CUDA."

It's all about the GPUs, he said, not about CUDA.

And so if you're developing an application that leverages a GPU's parallelism, and your application is built using OpenCL 1.0, CUDA, or, for that matter, ATI's Stream SDK, Nvidia wants to hear from you - and maybe toss you a chunk of cash. You can find details of how to submit your proposal on their GPU Ventures Program website. ®

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